A best-of-7 series is the standard game format for teams looking to battle each other in the playoffs. What if we were to pit two 5-a-side teams in a head-to-head battle with all the marbles on the line? Each team will have 5 superstars that captured MVPs during their era against each other, more specifically the 1990s MVPs against the 2010s MVPs. The 1990s is considered the greatest era ever because we saw superstars such as Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon win multiple titles while others such as Magic Johnson joined them to win multiple combined MVPs.
During the 2010s era, we saw the likes of LeBron James dominate the league throughout the decade while winning 3 MVP awards. Of course, Stephen Curry changed the game with his three-point shooting and won another 2 MVPs while Giannis Antetokounmpo has recently won 2 MVPs in 3 years. By creating a best-of-7 series between both sides of MVPs, here is how the matchups and eventually the entire series pans out.
Magic Johnson vs. Stephen Curry
Magic Johnson is a master at controlling the tempo of games and making the game easier for everyone around him. The 5-time NBA champion made an entire career off impacting the game with his all-around play, and he normally dominates any point guard matchup.
Stephen Curry is the greatest shooter ever, and he will be able to get his shots off against any opponent. Magic’s size will be an issue for Curry to shoot over him, but the Warriors legend will still be able to move off the ball for good looks as well.
Michael Jordan vs. James Harden
Michael Jordan is the most dominant scoring and defensive shooting guard of all time, and it is almost impossible for any other shooting guard to come close to that level. Jordan will lead his team in scoring although he will surprisingly accept a playmaking role at times.
Meanwhile, James Harden is recognized as one of the greatest isolation scorers ever who has a tendency to create his own three-point shots. Unfortunately for The Beard, his impact on the game will be slightly nullified because Jordan is much superior on defense.
Charles Barkley vs. LeBron James
The low-post forward Charles Barkley prefers to be in the paint on almost every possession, except he won’t have the easiest time bullying a beast of a man in LeBron James. Still, Barkley will adapt and will start average double-digit rebounds over the series.
Meanwhile, LeBron James handles the ball for his team on most occasions and acts as the most dominant fast-break lob partner alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo. The King won’t need much to get going with the ball in his hands and will be the most important player for his team.
Karl Malone vs. Kevin Durant
In another lopsided matchup, Karl Malone will dominate Durant in the post due to his size and strength. The Mailman will also get open from mid-range and will score the ball at will no matter what. On defense, it’s a different story.
Durant will lead his team in scoring, putting up 29 PPG over the series along with 8 RPG and 5 APG. The Slim Reaper dominates all areas of the floor with ease and makes it look easy for his team to rely on him. As great as Malone is on defense, he will struggle to keep up with KD on defense.
Hakeem Olajuwon vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo
If there is a player that can help form a wall to stop Giannis Antetokounmpo from taking over a series, it’s Hakeem Olajuwon. The legendary Rockets center is a fantastic defensive player who also has the best post moves in NBA history.
Meanwhile, Giannis will push the pace with the ball in his hands and also act as the team’s primary rebounder. As athletic and physical as Giannis is, he will not be able to help the 2010s MVPs from losing the battle of the boards.
1990s MVPs Advantages
The 90s MVPs have an incredible mix of dominant players with toughness and winning intangibles. The 5 starters are easily capable of filling up the stat sheet, but their success comes down to their ability to make the right plays at the right moments.
Magic Johnson is the greatest playmaker ever, Jordan is the greatest scorer ever, and the trio of Malone, Barkley and Olajuwon are capable of dominating around the rim. With incredible basketball IQ in their play, the 90s MVPs will dominate the majority of the series.
2010s MVPs Advantages
The 2010s MVPs have the advantage of shooting the ball, and their wins in this series will come down to that. Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant might be the best shooting duo of all time, in terms of shot creation and accuracy. James Harden is also proficient in creating his own three-point shots whenever he wants.
LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo are not known for their shooting, but their combined athleticism and playmaking will create a ton of scoring opportunities for the team on many occasions. With a unique blend of players, the 2010s have great offensive firepower.
Who Wins A Best-of-7 Series?
This game comes down to intangibles and it is sincerely difficult to bet against the dominant 90s superstars. The stars in the 90s were not influenced by the stat sheet and analytics, and often used intangibles such as controlling tempo and toughness to get the job done. It will be very hard for the 2010 MVPs to compete over a 7 game series.
Game 1 goes to the 1990s MVPs, led by the fantastic duo of Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. The backcourt duo is simply clicking on all cylinders as the former drops a monster 36 points on 11-18 shooting. Magic contributes 21 points and 15 assists, picking apart the 2010 MVPs. LeBron James and James Harden combine for 59 points, but it isn’t enough.
Game 2 also goes to the 1990s MVPs, this time due to the dominance of Hakeem Olajuwon, Karl Malone, and Charles Barkley. The trio combines for 78 points and 30 rebounds, owning the paint and preventing the 2010s MVPs from playing uptempo basketball. LeBron James and the company need to respond, which they do in Game 3.
The 2010s MVPs go hot from the perimeter in Game 3, nailing 17 three-pointers in an all-out assault. Curry, Harden, and Durant find their range while LeBron sets them up consistently from the perimeter. The ‘90s MVPs trail the entire game although they cut the deficit to 4 in the 4th quarter. Giannis scores a big 10 points in the 4th, sealing the deal.
Game 4 is more of the same, except it comes down to the wire. The 2010s MVPs nail 15 threes, but their lead is only 3 with 1 minute left in the 4th quarter. Kevin Durant misses a chance to make the lead 5 points, and the 90s MVPs respond with a Michael Jordan layup. LeBron drives and kicks to an open James Harden, who fails to hit the mark leaving the 1990s MVPs with a chance to win the game. Michael is double teamed and the Bulls guard finds Malone for a bank shot to win the game.
Despite facing a 3-1 deficit, the 2010s MVPs go off for a 35-point third quarter which puts the game out of reach for the dominant side. With the game basically over with 5 minutes remaining in the third quarter, the 1990s MVPs accept defeat to Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, and a team with their backs against the wall.
Unfortunately for the 2010s MVPs, they cannot force a Game 7. Magic grabs a triple-double, Jordan drops 29 points, and the dominant trio dominates the boards against a cold-shooting 2010s side. LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Kevin Durant have solid games; but missed shots throughout the game by Curry and Harden hurt the team. The 90s MVPs have too many winning intangibles and end up dominating a 7-game series through 6 games.
Result: 1990s MVPs vs. 2010s MVPs 4-2
Finals MVP: Magic Johnson