|Top 10 "What If" Combos|
|Written by Mark Grey|
by MARK GREY
10. Steve Nash & Dirk Nowitzki - Best friends off the court, Dirk and Nash gave the Mavs two of the best shooters in the NBA (and you can add Mike Finley in there, too). After the 03/04 season, questions aroused about Nash’s health and if he was still the same point guard. After the two split, they went on to win 3 straight NBA MVPs combined (Finley went on to win a Championship). Who knows if the big 3 would have ever been able to get over the hump in the West, but Nash still had more basketball left in him than the Mavs thought.
9. RUN TMC - One of the highest scoring trios of all time, Golden State had Mitch Richmond, Chris Mullin, and Tim Hardaway all at a young age. The trio was only together for two years and made it to the conference semis. In Hardaway’s second year in the NBA, all three of them scored 23 points a game or better. Mullin and Richmond were two of the best scorers in the league and there’s no telling how far they could have gone with a young Hardaway running the point. All three went on to have great careers, but who knows how many points they could have scored.
8. Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning - Johnson was the number 1 pick overall in 1991 and Mourning was number 2 the following year. The young low post powers gave the Hornets two 20-10 threats. In the pair's first year together, they gave the Hornets team its first winning season in team history along with its first trip to the playoffs. Once in the Playoffs, they upset the Boston Celtics and put the NBA on notice of their arrival. After recording a franchise record 50 wins in the 1994-1995 season, the Hornets shipped Zo off to the Heat for Glen Rice and others. We can only wonder what kind of front court Grandma-ma and Zo could have become.
7. Daunte Culpepper & Randy Moss - The NFL’s biggest arm paired with the fastest legs yields a lot of touchdowns. In their five years together, Moss and Culpepper hooked up for 49 touchdowns. In 2003 and 2004, the two seemed to be clicking better than ever as they had hooked up for 30 tds in 29 games. Moss had a career high 1,600 yards in 03 while Culpepper threw a career high 39 tds and 4,700 yards in 2004. After the ‘04 season, Moss was shipped off to Oakland where he almost saw his career die while the Raiders played musical chairs with coaches and quarterbacks. Culpepper was never the same after Moss’s departure. We will never know how many touchdowns and big plays the two would havecombined for.
6. Shaq & Penny - In the duos' first year together, they took the Magic to their first playoff appearance in franchise history. By their second year, they were in the NBA finals. After being swept the following year when they met the 72 win Bulls team in the Playoffs, Shaq left for LA after just 3 years together. After Shaq’s departure, Penny was left to carry the team by himself and it proved to be too much as he was plagued with injury after injury. Shaq went on to win 3 rings with new teammate Kobe Bryant. Had Shaq stuck it out, could he and Penny have won even more rings?
5. Chris Webber and Juwan Howard - The two wreaked havoc in college and were well on their way to doing the same in the NBA. Washington had such a young collection of talent with both Ben and Rasheed Wallace joining them at some point. In 1998, the two led the Wizards to the Playoffs for the first time in nine years and played the Bulls tough in the first round. With Howard coming into his own while Webber was out with an injury, it looked like the two were ready to put Washington D.C. basketball back on the map. That off-season, Washington shipped a young Webber off to the Kings, where he went on to have an All-NBA career, and Howard was never the same.
4. Terrell Owens & Donovan McNabb - One magical season that will never be forgotten in Philadelphia is when the two teamed up to lead the Eagles to their first Super Bowl in 24 years. T.O. brought his A game to the big stage; McNabb didn’t. T.O. then called him out about it in the media, and just like that, the honeymoon was over. When on the field together, the duo clicked immediately as McNabb had his best season ever, becoming the first quarterback ever to throw for over 30 touchdowns and less than 10 interceptions. Ever since Owens' departure, the Eagles have failed to get McNabb an elite receiver and he has never come close to putting up the same numbers. Who knows how many more Super Bowls could have been in their future if they could have gotten along off the field.
3. Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier - The NHL’s top 2 all-time leading scorers were the leaders of one of the greatest dynasties in all of sports history: they helped lead the Edmonton Oilers to 5 championships in 7 years, while rewriting the NHL record books. After winning the Stanley Cup in 1988, the Oilers traded a 27 year old Gretzky to the Los Angles Kings for a king's ransom, bringing an end to the pairing of two of the best scorers hockey has ever seen. Both Messier and Gretzky were still in their primes and there is no telling how many more Stanley Cups they could have brought to Edmonton.
2. Alex Rodriguez & Ken Griffey Jr. - Two of the most complete baseball players of all time, these two players parted ways early in their careers. In A-Rod’s rookie season, the two combined for 85 homeruns and 263 RBIs as they led the Seattle Mariners to the most wins in club history, all while setting the record for most runs scored by a team in a season. In just their second season together, the Mariners won the division title and Griffey was named MVP of the league. Lack of strong pitching prevented the team from advancing in their four years together, but they put up eye-popping numbers every year. With names like Jay Buhner and Edger Martinez joining the lineup, these two MVPs could have gone down as the best one-two punch in baseball history.
1. Shaq and Kobe - The most dominant big man in NBA history and the best wing player not named Michael Jordan formed an unstoppable duo. Shaq and Kobe led the Lakers to 3 straight NBA titles, including an NBA record 15-1 run through the playoffs in 2001. In a six year span, the two went to the finals 4 times. As well as they mixed on the court, they couldn’t coexist in the locker room and Shaq was shipped out to Miami. With Shaq still at the peak of his game and Kobe only getting better, there is no telling how many more titles the pair could have won while cementing their names in basketball history as the best center/guard combo in history.