Every great basketball analyst has their opinions on the greatest NBA starting line-up of all-time. Whether you ask Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller, David Aldridge or any of the other analysts that you see on TV, their versions of the greatest starting line-up of all time are probably similar, considering their knowledge of the game and the fact that many of these analysts were superstars in the NBA before they retired.
So now, here's my version of the greatest starting line-up of all time. Remember, this isn't a list of the greatest players necessarily, but the greatest starting line-up of all time. That means one player per position, starting with the point guard.
Point Guard (PG): Earvin "Magic" Johnson was simply a freak of nature. Not in a bad way, but in a basketball sense. I mean, when was the last time you saw a 6'8" point guard bringing up the ball? Magic had such a size advantage that it seemed unfair to have to defend him. Consider this. In the NBA today, Chris Paul is supposedly the best point guard in the league. Imagine Magic Johnson going up against Chris Paul. How are you supposed to defend a guy that has excellent court vision, a second to none basketball IQ, and is a full head taller than you?
Shooting Guard (SG): This is a hard decision. It's between Jordan and Kobe (although my mom is adamant that Jordan is better). I've always been a Kobe Bryant fan, but from a basketball standpoint, there's not much that differentiates them. No disrespect to Kobe, but Jordan is as every bit as good as him, except for the fact that Jordan has 6 championship titles, while Kobe has 5. If you look at both of their games, you'll notice that they almost look identical. Even the their championship celebrations are the same. They're both dynamic scorers, they're both team leaders, they're both clutch performers, and they've both become sports icons. I mean, when you think of professional basketball, you always think Jordan or Kobe (and maybe even Lebron, but we'll get to him later). So for this one, I'd say either one.
Small Forward (SF): Now, the choice for the greatest small forward of all time is a no-brainer, unlike the shooting guard. Lebron James. The heralded "King of Hoops" has come to take his throne atop the NBA kingdom. His undeniable talent has resulted in back-to-back NBA championships for the Miami Heat. Of course, this success was inevitable after James decided to join forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to play for the Heat, in a decision that fans and critics labeled "cowardly" and "unjustifiable" as the NBA's newest super-team was formed. With career averages of 27.6 PPG, 7.3 RPG, and 6.9 APG, Lebron James will certainly go down in history as one of the best basketball players of all time.
Power Forward (PF): The Big Fundamental, Tim Duncan. Man, it seems like this guy has been in the league forever! And. indeed he has. The 37 year-old big man has led the San Antonio Spurs to 4 championship titles, with their recent championship run to the Finals, ending in a near title. He is also one of a few reasons the aging San Antonio Spurs roster has been able to remain competitive in the Western Conference. The 2-time MVP, 3-time Finals MVP, 14-time NBA All Star, 14-time All-NBA Defensive First Team, and sure-fire future NBA Hall of Famer, has much to be proud of.
Center (C): There have been so many great centers in league history from Wilt Chamberlain, to Bill Russell, to Shaquille O'neal, and to Kareem Abdul Jabbar. But you have to remember that most of these great centers played before rules like the 3-second violation and goaltending were established. For me, this decision comes down to personal preference. If you don't already know, my favorite player in NBA history is Hakeem Olajuwon, so I'll go with him. When I think of an elite center, I want a player that can lead the team in rebounds, score in the low post, and run the floor. Hakeem can do all of those things. With his signature "Dream Shake", and a plethora of other post moves, he became an unstoppable inside force. Not only that, his excellent footwork allows him to get into good positions for both defensive and offensive rebounds (for a career average of 11.1 RPG). To put the icing on the cake, during both of Houston's championship runs (94' and 95'), Hakeem was matched with two elite centers in back to back years in the NBA Finals. In 1994, Hakeem was matched against Patrick Ewing, while in 1995, Hakeem was matched against the rookie big man, Shaquille O'neal. Hakeem dominated both, leading to back-to-back NBA Championships for the Houston Rockets. Case closed.
And there you have it. Magic-Jordan/Kobe-Lebron-Duncan-Olajuwon. The greatest starting line-up. Ever.