In a star-driven league like the NBA, it’s not surprising to see superteams.
While it is not until recently that building a basketball superpower gained significant traction, there’s no doubt that it has been in the league since its early years. After all, putting together the best collection of talent has always been the best way to win a championship.
Today, we take a look at the top five superteams ever assembled in NBA history and what made them unstoppable forces.
*Before we go further down the road, we should define first what a superteam is and what are the criteria for the top five.
The indicators that constitute a superteam are:
– At least three Hall of Famers or All-Stars joining forces, with at least one star coming from outside the team (via trade or free agency).
– The creation of the superteam disrupting the balance of power in the NBA
– We know it when we see it!
As for the criteria of making it to this list, we consider the collection of players the team has or had and — of course — if they won a championship or not.
Here goes our list (in no particular order).
Miami Heat (2010-2014) and Cleveland Cavaliers (2014-2017)
This is probably cheating, but it’s difficult to separate the Heat and Cavs given that they had the same denominator when they formed their superteams: LeBron James.
Many dubbed James’ highly publicized “The Decision” as the catalyst for the creation of the modern NBA superteams. He left Cleveland to form a three-headed monster with his good friend Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, eventually winning two championships along the way.
James then left the Heat to return to Cleveland, prompting the Cavs to trade Andrew Wiggins — that year’s first pick — in exchange for Kevin Love and form their own “Big Three” along with superstar point guard Kyrie Irving.
Golden State Warriors (2016-2018)
The Warriors may have won the 2015 NBA Finals, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2016 — when Kevin Durant joined them — that they became a legitimate superteam.
Golden State did great in drafting and developing Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green to the stars they are today, but Durant’s move altered the course of the franchise and made them heavy favorites year in and year out.
The Dubs have won back-to-back championships since KD moved to the Bay Area, including their recent NBA Finals sweep of the Cavs.
Boston Celtics (2008-2012)
When talking about the best superteams, who could forget about the Celtics? In fact, they can be considered as the “father” of today’s superteams after trading for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in 2007 to form a deadly starting lineup with Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo.
They won the coveted ring in 2008 and reached the finals again in 2010, losing to the Kobe Bryant-led Los Angeles Lakers.
Chicago Bulls (1995-1998)
An argument can be made that the Bulls weren’t a superteam back in the day and were merely a collection of players who complement each others’ weaknesses.
However, with Dennis Rodman pairing up with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in 1995, the team elevated from what was already a championship-caliber squad.
Of course, it doesn’t have the same impact as Durant joining the Warriors, but it should be remembered that The Worm was the reigning rebounding champion back then and was already a two-time All-Star and NBA champion.
Chicago went 72-10 in the trio’s first year together and won the first of the city’s second three-peat in the Jordan era.
Philadelphia 76ers (1983-1986)
Moses Malone. Julius Erving. Maurice Cheeks. Bobby Jones. Need I say more?
After losing 4-2 in the 1982 finals at the hands of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Lakers, the Sixers retooled and acquired Malone via restricted free agency. The team that also featured Dr. J along with former All-Stars Cheeks and Jones went on to win the title in 1983, losing just one game in the playoffs.
Interestingly, they swept the Lakers to impose their superiority as the new superteam. Unfortunately, they were not able to replicate their success despite keeping the core and drafting Charles Barkley in 1984.