Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh might be the NBA's hottest 1-2-3 combination, but they need to win a championship to be considered one of the greatest all-time trios. To qualify for this list, a group must have won at least two championships, which leaves out some terrific trios such as Julius Erving-Moses Malone-Maurice Cheeks for the 76ers and Wilt Chamberlain-Jerry West-Gail Goodrich for the Lakers. In chronological order:
Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, Tom Heinsohn
The Celtics won six titles with this core group, and they continued winning with Russell anchoring the franchise, even after Cousy and Heinsohn retired. The dynamics of the league evolved greatly since the early 60's, but it is difficult to ignore three Hall-of-Famers (comprising the right half of this photo) playing together in their prime.
Dave DeBusschere, Walt Frazier, Willis Reed
These three Hall-of-Famers (who are joined in this photo by Dick Barnett on the left and Bill Bradley in the middle) took the Knicks to three finals appearances in four seasons with championships in 1970 and 1973. Another Hall of Famer, Earl Monroe, joined them on the second title team, showing how a collection of stars could share the ball and win.
Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish
The Celtics won three titles and went to five finals with this Big Three. One of Red Auerbach's legendary moves was trading the first overall pick in the 1980 draft to the Warriors (who took Joe Barry Carroll) for Parish and the third overall pick, which the Celtics used to snag McHale.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, James Worthy
The Lakers had already won two titles with Kareem and Magic before they drafted Worthy. But his addition helped them secure three more rings, and in 1988, the Lakers became the first repeat champion since Bill Russell's Celtics on the 60's.
Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman
Rodman replaced Horace Grant at power forward in the Bulls' second set of three-peats. They played together for three seasons and won three titles. Their 72-10 regular-season record in 1995-96 remains the best of all-time.
Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, Derek Fisher
No question that Fisher is several notches down in the pecking order compared to some of the all-time legends cited here. But the Lakers probably don't pull off their three-peat without his ability to make big shots when all the chips are on the table.
Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili
The Spurs were never the sexiest team in the league, but they were brutally efficient while parlaying sound fundamentals into three championships. Duncan had a previous title, tag-teaming with David Robinson.