We are living in the era of superteams. It seems every year, there are teams with incredible talent that are expected to win it all. Until more recently, there was little to no parity in the league. And it has been the case since the Boston Celtics pulled off the biggest heist in NBA history to acquire Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in 2008.
The Big Three of Pierce, Garnett, and Allen made it to the NBA Finals the same year and won the NBA title. Not to be outdone and hungry for his first NBA title, LeBron James left Cleveland in free agency to join forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. Clearly the favorites every single year, LeBron won 2 NBA titles in 4 years with the Heat. LeBron then took the trend further by joining Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love in Cleveland.
Of course, Kevin Durant took that trend to a different level by joining the 73-9 Golden State Warriors to make them unbeatable. Today, we have Kevin Durant once again in the mix of things alongside James Harden and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn. The amount of superteams we have seen in recent years is unprecedented, and looking back at NBA history, what if there was a similar trend back then?
All-time great Reggie Miller scoffed at the notion of ever joining forces with competitor Michael Jordan because he wanted to beat the best and not join him. It seems the era of pride and competitive spirit is long gone, and if things were similar back then, the superteams created would have been the best ever.
By pairing the greatest players from the '90s into 5 separate superteams, here is how the competitive legends would fare today.
5. Seattle SuperSonics Superteam
Superstars: Gary Payton, Tim Hardaway, Shawn Kemp, Alonzo Mourning
The SuperSonics had a deadly duo with Payton and Kemp, even reaching the NBA Finals in 1996 in a losing effort to Jordan and the Bulls. But imagine if they had the chance to snag point guard Tim Hardaway from the Warriors and All-Star center Alonzo Mourning from the Miami Heat?
Kemp and Payton were already dominant, averaging 16.7 PPG and 16.3 PPG respectively while making a combined 11 All-Star Teams in the '90s. During that period, Payton also won the Defensive Player of the Year and made 6 All-NBA Defensive Teams.
Tim Hardaway is one of the most underrated stars in NBA history, as he was a dominant point guard with exceptional handles and scoring ability. Over 10 seasons with the Warriors, he averaged 19.4 PPG and 9.0 APG which he would have brought to the duo of Payton and Kemp.
Adding in All-Star Alonzo Mourning, who averaged 21.0 PPG and 10.2 RPG to go along with 3.0 BPG, the Sonics would be unbeatable. If superteams were the norm back then, the Bulls would not have gone 6-0 in the NBA Finals and the SuperSonics would have been NBA champions at least a few times.
4. Houston Rockets Superteam
Superstars: Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, Grant Hill, Dikembe Mutombo
Clyde Drexler in his prime was one of the best guards in the NBA. He was a 7-time All-Star in the '90s and averaged 20.9 PPG over 9 seasons. Of course, Drexler would win his first NBA title with the Rockets in 1995 alongside Hakeem Olajuwon.
With Hakeem down low, the Rockets were a force on both ends of the floor. Arguably the second greatest player in the 90's, Hakeem won the 1994 MVP Award and 2 titles with the Rockets. Clyde and Hakeem were a dynamic duo in 1995, and there was no wonder why Houston became a winner. But if they had a superteam with two more All-Stars, they would have won much more.
Had Grant Hill stayed healthy, we are looking at a young LeBron James. He only played 5 seasons at an elite level with the Detroit Pistons before injuries summed up his legendary status. If the Rockets acquired prime Grant Hill, their wings would have been perfect. Adding to that 3-time Defensive Player of the Year Dikembe Mutombo, the Rockets would have won multiple rings.
Mutombo led the NBA in blocks 3 times over 8 seasons in the 90s and made 5 All-Star Teams. Mutombo and Hakeem would have formed the most dominant defensive duo in history because the paint would be completely clogged for opponents. Hakeem went back to back with a bunch of role players, so imagine if he had Mutombo and Hill joining him.
3. New York Knicks Superteam
Superstars: Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller, Kevin Johnson
The Knicks were a force with Patrick Ewing, one of the best superstars to have never won an NBA title. In the 90s, Ewing averaged 24.1 PPG, 11.0 RPG, and 2.7 BPG. He also made 8 All-Star Teams in that period with a 1994 Finals loss to the Rockets and a 1999 Finals loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
If Ewing had superstar help in the forms of a dominant Phoenix Suns duo and Reggie Miller, there is no doubt that he would retire a multiple-time NBA champion. Kevin Johnson and Charles Barkley made the Finals together in 1993 but fell to Jordan and the Bulls. Johnson was an All-Star player during the '90s, making 3 All-Star Teams and averaging 17.9 PPG and 9.1 APG over his career.
Charles Barkley, one of the greatest power forwards of all time, averaged 22.4 PPG and 11.6 RPG while making 8 All-Star Teams. Of course, Barkley won the 1993 MVP Award during the regular season. If the duo of Barkley and Johnson truly didn't believe they could win a title, joining forces with a superstar like Ewing would have given them an easier path to the title.
To finalize a top-3 superteam of all-time, Hall of Famer and legendary marksman Reggie Miller finished a Big Four. Miller averaged 21.0 PPG on 40.5% 3-PT shooting during the '90s, making 4 All-Star Teams. With Barkley and Ewing dominating down low and Miller and Johnson controlling the perimeter, the Knicks would have multiple titles with Ewing as their franchise player.
2. Utah Jazz Superteam
Superstars: John Stockton, Karl Malone, David Robinson, Penny Hardaway
The Hall of Fame duo of John Stockton and Karl Malone was incredible to witness. Karl Malone, after Tim Duncan, was the most dominant power forward ever. He won 2 MVPs in the 90s and made a whopping 10 All-NBA First Teams. Averaging 27.2 PPG and 10.7 RPG during the 90s, The Mailman was unstoppable.
Alongside him was John Stockton, who leads the NBA all-time in assists and steals. Playing with Malone padded his stats but he was a master in the pick n roll, and the point guard led Utah to the playoffs every single year he played. Malone and Stockton made it to the Finals in 1997 and 1998 but lost both times to Michael Jordan and the Bulls.
Had they inherited the idea of forming superteams, imagine the Big Four in Utah with Hall of Famer David Robinson and All-Star guard Penny Hardaway in town.
Robinson was arguably a top-3 player in the 90s, winning the MVP in 1995 and later the NBA title in 1999 with the Spurs. The Admiral also captured the Defensive Player of the Year Award in 1992 and made 8 All-Star Teams in the 90s. He was a franchise player on his own, and he would have delivered multiple titles to ringless superstars Malone and Stockton.
Penny Hardaway was Shaquille O'Neal's sidekick in Orlando and was a bonafide stud. Injuries took away what would have been a first-ballot Hall of Fame career, but he was still a dominant guard. Standing tall, Penny made 4 All-Star Teams and 2 All-NBA First Teams in the '90s. Penny and Shaq made the Finals in 1995 but were swept by Hakeem and the Rockets.
Penny retired without having an NBA title, an unfortunate fact about Malone and Stockton as well. Playing together and adding an MVP in David Robinson would have made the Utah Jazz one of the greatest superteams ever. In fact, they might be number one if not for one more Big Three.
1. Chicago Bulls Superteam
Superstars: Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Shaquille O'Neal, Dennis Rodman
Many claim that the trio of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman were already a superteam. After all, they went undefeated to help win 6 championships for Jordan and Pippen without ever playing in a Game 7. But that was mainly due to Michael Jordan's greatness more than anything, not because they had a superteam.
If superstar players joining forces was the norm back then, the Bulls would have signed dominant center Shaquille O'Neal. Before O'Neal decided to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency, he was looking for max money and a chance to win titles. With Chicago, he would have got that and much more.
If there was any chance for Jordan to ever come close to getting close to Bill Russell's 11 rings, this would be it. O'Neal would go on to win an MVP and 3 Finals MVPs with the Lakers, so it is not out of the question that the Bulls superteam would have won at least 3 or 4 more championships together.
The most accomplished trio ever adding arguably the most dominant center ever would be a perfect match, because Chicago thrived in the half-court, and playing through Shaq and Jordan would have been the greatest offense in history. Jordan was easily the best player in the 90s, winning 4 MVPs and 7 scoring titles.
Jordan also made 7 All-NBA First Teams and 7 All-Defensive First Teams. Alongside him was his sidekick Scottie Pippen, a 7-time All-Star and an 8-time All-Defensive Team performer. Pairing them with 6-time All-Star and 1995 scoring champion Shaquille O'Neal would have been utterly ridiculous, creating the single most dominant superteam in NBA history.