Can You Name the NBA Team If We Give You Three of Their Franchise Legends?

Raj Chander

Image: tookapic / Pixabay

About This Quiz

Is it possible to think of legendary NBA players without also thinking of the team they played for?

Can we imagine Michael Jordan, for example, without the booming roar of announcer Ray Clay or the intense red of Chicago's jersey? Would Magic Johnson's easy charm and flashy on-court passes have been as legendary in a place that wasn't Los Angeles, home of the biggest stars in the world? 

While today's NBA stars don't feel as many qualms about changing teams, there was a time when finishing your career with a single franchise was considered a major honor. Single-team stars like Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant and Manu Ginobili have all etched themselves permanently in the history books of their respective franchises, if from nothing else than sheer longevity.

Conversely, there are a few stars who probably should have stayed on one team for their entire career Allen Iverson was a dominant force in Philadelphia, but never quite reached the same heights in his last few years on the Denver Nuggets and Detroit Pistons. After jumping to Los Angeles from his longtime home in Utah, Karl Malone made it back to the finals in his last season with the Lakers but came up just short, losing to the Pistons in a major championship upset.

Now it's time to test your knowledge of the stars and the cities they represented - at least for most of their careers. How many of these famous NBA players can you match to their franchises?  

Dennis Rodman was the bad boy, Michael Jordan was the uncompromising megastar and Scottie Pippen was the low-key glue guy - on which team did this combination of personas win three championships?

Jordan and Pippen had already won three titles before their partnership was enhanced by a Chicago trade for Dennis Rodman in 1995. Rodman's defensive toughness and prowess on the glass helped the Bulls take home three more championships in 1996, 1997 and 1998.

To many fans, they are the prototype for the "big three" player model. Where did sharpshooting guard Ray Allen pair with tough wing player Paul Pierce and intense power forward Kevin Garnett to win a title in 2008?

Pierce was the homegrown star, but Garnett and Allen were added to the team in the 2007 offseason. This trio was also nicknamed, "The Boston Three Party."

They were hated at first, but when megastar LeBron James joined up with guard Dwyane Wade and center Chris Bosh, this trio of NBA stars won back-to-back titles over the Thunder and Spurs while nicknaming themselves after the Beatles - where did they play?

After his much-derided "The Decision" broadcast special, where LeBron James announced he would be going to Miami to play with Wade and Bosh, the Heat got out to a slow start and lost in their first appearance in the NBA finals. Eventually they righted the ship, figured out who should run the team, and won back-to-back titles for Miami.

After their team had tremendous success in the '80s but a lackluster '90s, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal and Derek Fisher brought success back to the west coast home of "Showtime" basketball in the early 2000s - where did they play?

Although they enjoyed success, ego and personal clashes ended up destroying this group - Shaq asked for a trade in 2004 and was dealt to the Heat, where he would go on to win another title with young superstar Dwyane Wade.

Against a stacked Lakers team, sharpshooting point guard Chauncey Billups joined up with tough forwards Rasheed Wallace and Ben Wallace to bring home their franchise's first title in 14 years - where did they play?

The underdog Pistons actually might not have been that underrated, since they ended up making it back to the championship the next year, but were overwhelmed by the prime years of the Spurs' early 2000s trio of Parker/Duncan/Ginobili.

Facing the Miami Heat's fearsome trio in the NBA Finals, this Lone Star threesome of Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler and Jason Terry was successful in bringing their franchise its first title. Where did they play?

The Heat's Big Three was widely expected to win a title in their first year together. Though they made it to the championship, a lack of chemistry on their side didn't quite combine with the expert teamwork of this trio.

Led by dominant coach Gregg Popovich, international stars Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker combined with legendary forward Tim Duncan to sweep a young LeBron James in his first finals. Which team were they on?

The threesome, formed in 2002, went on to win three titles in 2003, 2005 and nine years later in 2014. Duncan retired shortly after winning his fourth ring (he won one in 1999 before Ginobili and Parker joined the team).

Consisting of scoring phenom James Harden, star point guard Chris Paul and Trevor Ariza, this trio pushed the Golden State Warriors to seven games in the 2018 Western Conference Finals. Who'd they play for?

The Rockets lost Ariza after this offseason, and many wonder if they will ever reach similar heights - especially after the Warriors upgraded by adding all-star center DeMarcus Cousins.

This young trio of Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Kevin Durant, which made the 2012 NBA Finals, consisted of three players who would all go on to win the MVP award. On which team did they compete?

Ownership never expected Harden to reach the heights he did - after his time in OKC, he went on to win the aforementioned MVP, make seven All-Star games, and be named to the All-NBA first team four times.

The legendary west coast threesome of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom was able to prove that Bryant could win without dominant center Shaquille O'Neal. Where did this trio play when they won the 2009 NBA Finals?

After a contentious divorce with Shaq, Kobe Bryant felt compelled to prove he could win without him. He ended up achieving this goal in back to back years, 2009 and 2010, though he was never able to match Michael Jordan's total of six rings.

In the 1995 finals, this threesome of Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler and Kenny Smith shut down the Orlando Magic and their young superstar center Shaquille O'Neal to win their second straight championship. Focused on "The Dream" and "The Glyde," where did this group call home?

After a series of embarrassing, high-profile losses by Houston sports teams, this era in the Rockets' history birthed a new chapter of performance in H-Town, earning Houston the nickname "Clutch City."

This big three consisting of the two "Splash Brothers" Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, plus enforcer Draymond Green, won a hard-fought championship battle with the King in 2015, claiming their franchise's first championship since 1975. Which squad were they on?

After winning the title in 2015, the Warriors followed it up with another unbelievable run, setting the NBA record for single-season wins with 73. Though they would fall to LeBron James and the Cavs in the 2016 finals, the Warriors got the last laugh, reloading later that summer by adding Durant.

This early version of "Showtime" included Magic Johnson, James Worthy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the towering center known for his devastating sky hook. Where did this trio play?

Magic Johnson, with his dynamic passing ability and trademark ear-to-ear grin, also helped build the legend of "Showtime," an era in Lakers history still discussed today.

Larry Bird, the "Hick from French Lick" teamed up with Kevin McHale and Robert Parish on this squad and ended up winning three titles in the 1980s - which team did they play for?

Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish anchored the Celtics in one of their most dominant eras: Between 1981 and 1988, the Celtics made the NBA Finals five times, winning three of them.

Shaquille O'Neal was the biggest name in this Florida trio that made it all the way to the NBA Finals in 1995. He was joined by Penny Hardaway and Horace Grant - who did they play for?

In 2018, Shaquille O'Neal expressed some regret about leaving the Magic to play for the Lakers before he got a chance to win a title with his first superstar running mate, Penny Hardaway. "I think if we had stayed together we definitely would have gotten one. Maybe two."

This potent northwest combination, headlined by Gary "The Glove" Payton, was a force to be reckoned with in the Western Conference of the mid-'90s. His running mates Shawn Kemp and Detlef Schrempf were a force on the court - unfortunately, they never took home a ring. Where did they play?

Payton and Kemp were known for their rough-and-tumble, physical style, while Schrempf added a slick European style to the team with great three-point shooting. Unfortunately, they ran into a team considered by many basketball experts to be the best in history - the 1996 Chicago Bulls won an NBA-record 72 games on their way to beating the Sonics in the championship.

In this Salt Lake City threesome, the "Mailman" Karl Malone, along with John Stockton and Jeff Hornacek, delivered almost everything - except a championship for the franchise. In the '90s, this group was denied twice consecutively in their bid for a ring by Jordan's Chicago Bulls - what team were they on?

Malone, Stockton and Hornacek were a great team for the Jazz in the '90s, but they had trouble with familiar foes throughout their time together. Their first nemesis was the Houston Rockets, who eliminated the Jazz from the playoffs in 1994 and again in 1995. After losing to the SuperSonics in '96, they lost back-to-back championship series to the Chicago Bulls in 1997 and 1998.

Although this group of three was initially created by Red Auerbach in the 1950s, they didn't hit their peak until the end of the decade. From 1959 to 1966, Bob Cousy, Bill Russell and Tom Heinsohn led their squad to an unbelievable eight championships in a row. Where did they play?

GM Red Auerbach pulled off another of his famous heists to put this group together, trading Cliff Hagan and Ed Macauley to the St. Louis Hawks for Bill Russell. While Hagan carved out a very respectable career for himself on the Hawks, Macauley only played two more seasons before leaving the game. Neither player would ever sniff the years of dominance enjoyed by Russell and his teammates.

These three players brought the late 2000s incarnation of their team to three straight semifinals, where they lost to the Cavs, Magic, and Bulls. In those first two series, the formidable trio of Al Horford, Mike Bibby and Joe Johnson were swept. Which team did they play for?

Through the years, LeBron James has been a particularly sharp thorn in the Hawks' side. His Cavaliers swept them out of the playoff to end three separate seasons: once in 2009 and twice in a row in 2015 and 2016.

The mid-2000s trio of Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison found some success, making the playoffs for four straight seasons between 2005 and 2008, but was ultimately broken up when one of the players admitted to storing guns in his locker. Which was their team?

Arenas was suspended for the second half of the 2010 season and convicted of a felony charge of carrying an unlicensed firearm outside a home or business. Though he came back to the Wizards next season (with a different jersey number), his relationship with the team was clearly damaged beyond repair, and he was traded just 24 games into the year.

Another present-day group that has already accomplished significant milestones, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson came together in 2016 to form what many believe is the best-scoring team in history. In every season they've played together so far, this trio has won the championship - what's their team?

Before Durant's arrival, the Warriors had already won a championship in 2015. They made it back the next year but lost to LeBron's Cavs. So far, the Warriors have made it to four straight NBA Finals, winning three.

The threesome of Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler and Joakim Noah wasn't as formidable as this team's mid-'90s version, but they still found some regular season success and made the playoffs consistently, with Rose winning Rookie of the Year in 2009. Where did this big three play?

After a dominant opening chapter to his career that saw him win Rookie of the Year and MVP in his first three seasons, Rose's career unraveled after tearing his ACL in 2012, missing a full year, then tearing his meniscus after just a month back in 2013 and missing the remainder of that season as well.

The trio of Charles Oakley, Patrick Ewing and Allan Houston was a big reason their team made the playoffs every year in the 1990s. They especially gelled in 1998, when their team made it to the Finals but lost to the San Antonio Spurs. Which NBA team did these three players suit up for?

With Oakley's toughness, Ewing's scoring and Houston's precision shooting, the Knicks were a formidable force in the east, making the playoffs every year during the '90s. Yet despite their combined star power, the Knicks were unable to win the big one and remain title-less since their ring in 1973.

Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, and Mike Conley were largely responsible for helping their team earn the "Grit and Grind" moniker in the early 2000s, as well as 7 straight playoff appearances beginning in 2011. Where did they play?

Like the Hawks or Clippers, the Grizzlies appear to be another one of those teams that perpetually competed in the postseason but never really came close to a championship. In seven straight appearances, the furthest they got was 2013's Western Conference Finals, where they were swept by the San Antonio Spurs.

Despite high expectations, the marquee trio of Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash never quite lived up to expectations and dissolved after 2013. Which team were they on?

Another big reason this group broke up was tension between Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant. When they met on different teams in 2014, Bryant famously called his former teammate "soft" for throwing elbows.

In the early 2010s, Paul George, David West and Roy Hibbert formed the basis for a strong Eastern Conference squad. Unfortunately, they ran into an even stronger competitor, losing to LeBron and the Miami Heat three years in a row from 2012 to 2014. What team was this?

After this incarnation of the team, another version of the Pacers in the late 2010s anchored by Victor Oladipo made the playoffs three times from 2016 - 2018. In two out of three of those years, they were eliminated by the same man who haunted the team's earlier version - LeBron James.

Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jornda, nicknamed "Lob City" for their penchant for throwing high-flying alley-oops, are unfortunately best known for blowing a 3-1 lead against Houston in the West Semifinals in 2015. Where did these three play?

Playoff failures combined with tension between head coach and star point guard Chris Paul led to Paul's departure for Houston in 2017. The next year, in 2018, Jordan and Griffin were traded, putting the final nail in Lob City's coffin.

This threesome consisted of Dwyane "Flash" Wade, Shaquille O'Neal and Antoine Walker. They bested Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs to take the title in 2006, giving Shaq his fourth ring. Where did these three play?

After championship highs in 2006, injuries and friction between Shaq and coach Pat Riley unraveled this threesome. Wade would have to wait another five years to compete for a title again, when LeBron James came to the Heat in 2010 and helped them win back-to-back rings.

The new-school big three of Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner is the engine of a young Midwest team that looks poised to compete for years. Which team do the pictured players represent?

Although hopes were high, in 2018 this trio's full potential was derailed by a season-ending knee injury for Oladipo. If they can stay together, they should be a tough team in the east for years to come.

In the early 2000s, the combined scoring prowess of Chris Webber, Mike Bibby and Peja Stojakovic gave Kobe and Shaq's Lakers a few memorable playoff battles but ultimately never made it past the conference finals. Where did they play?

This team was involved in one of Shaq's most famous quotes, when he dubbed them the "Sacramento Queens" in an interview before the 2003 season.

This squad, headlined by Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu, had some playoff success in the late 2000s, including a trip to the NBA Finals in 2009 where they would lose to the Spurs. What team did this trio play for?

This team was definitely the highlight of all three players' careers. Turkoglu is now retired, and Nelson has not been on an NBA roster in over a year. Howard is struggling to shake off lingering physical issues and a reputation as a bad teammate.

On this team led by Steve Nash, Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire, coach Mike D'Antoni coined the famous "7 seconds or less" offense that emphasized pushing the ball as fast as possible. Which western powerhouse did these three players represent?

D'Antoni later moved versions of this approach to the Knicks and the Rockets - it was especially successful on the latter team, serving as the foundation for Houston to make the Western Conference Finals in 2018.

LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love headlined the Believe-land trio that, in 2016, dethroned the fearsome Golden State Warriors to win the NBA Championship in 7 games, fighting back from a 3-1 deficit. Who did these three play for?

The Cavs enjoyed some success with LeBron, but 2019 hasn't been as nice to the team: The King has moved west to play with the Lakers, and star Kevin Love has missed significant time with injuries.

Before the 1983 playoffs, the famous center Moses Malone made a now-legendary prediction of how his team would perform in the playoffs: "Fo, fo, fo," indicating they would sweep all three rounds to win a title. Malone was joined by Julius Erving and Andrew Toney - which squad did these three play for?

This was also the year that Julius Erving performed his famous "Rock the baby" dunk, rolling the ball onto his forearm and slamming it home one-handed.

In the late 1980s, Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer and Joe Dumars helped their team earn the nickname "Bad Boys," thanks to a hard-nosed, aggressive style of play. It was a method that won them back-to-back titles in 1989 & 1990 - which team were these players on?

Besides the incident involving Isiah Thomas, Laimbeer was also famously the recipient of a hard forearm from Celtics legend Robert Parish. Despite knocking Laimbeer to the ground and drawing blood, Parish only received a common foul for the swing.

In the late '60s, the threesome of Elgin Baylor, Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain helped keep their team competing for titles. Sadly, it was only in 1972, after the oldest member of this trio retired, that their team was able to bring home a championship. Who did these three play for?

Guard Jerry West, who believed he had a bad series in the Lakers' 1972 championship, went on to become known as "The Logo," after designer Alan Siegel admitted that in 1969 he used a photo of West as inspiration for the silhouette that appears in the NBA's logo.

For the two full seasons that Mookie Blaylock, Dikembe Mutumbo and Steve Smith played together, they won 50 games and made the playoffs. The trio was headlined by one of the most fearsome shot blockers in NBA history - where did these three play?

While Mutumbo successfully ported his finger-wag to television commercials, Blaylock has had a darker time since his Hawks heyday: He was sentenced to multiple years in prison in 2014 after having an alcohol-related seizure while driving and causing a crash that killed a woman in Texas.

Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker won a title in 2014, but their potential was derailed in the 2018 season when mistrust involving an injury to the team's superstar player caused Kawhi to force a trade. Which team did this threesome play for?

This group completely broke up after the 2018 season, with Leonard getting traded to Toronto, Parker signing with the Hornets and Ginobili retiring after over 15 years playing for the Spurs.

Walt Frazier, Earl Monroe and Willis Reed brought one of the league's most historic big market franchises its last title, all the way back in 1993. Which team was their squad?

When flashy point guard Earl "The Pearl" Monroe was traded to the Knicks to pair with Walt Frazier, they earned the nickname, "The Rolls-Royce Backcourt."

Long before any splash brothers came around, the trio of Mitch Richmond, Tim Hardaway and Chris Mullin was formed in 1989 to help push the pace of their squad's scoring to historic levels. Which team was theirs?

Run TMC was a part of the highest-scoring regulation game in NBA history, a 1990 win over the Denver Nuggets with a remarkable final score of 158 - 162.

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