During this year’s NBA Finals, LeBron James unintentionally sparked a huge debate about what constitutes an NBA “superteam.”
It was Clyde Drexler’s turn to weigh in on the matter Sunday, and the former Houston Rockets star brought the superteam’s origins all the way back — way before James’ Miami Heat teams, the Boston Celtics’ 2008 championship club and even the Los Angeles Lakers’ early-2000s mini-dynasty.
“You know, I love LeBron and anything he says is gold. But I’d really like to give you a different opinion,” Drexler told ESPN.com at the BIG3 League’s debut at Barclays Center. “The Big Three was the Lakers’ Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar), (James) Worthy and Magic (Johnson), way before (the Celtics’ Larry) Bird, (Robert) Parish, (Cedric) Maxwell, (Kevin) McHale and D.J. (Dennis Johnson). Those great teams always had four, five great players. Not only three — they had four to five great players.”
But in Drexler’s mind, the original superteam dates a full two decades before those great Celtic and Laker squads.
“The early Celtics from the ’60s with Bill Russell, (John) Havlicek, (Bob) Cousy and Sam Jones, that was the first Big 3,” Drexler said. “So, it goes further back from that.”
Drexler actually was responding to a compliment from James, who told teammates Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye earlier this month on the “Road Trippin'” podcast that the 1990s Rockets, with Drexler, Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley, started the superteam trend.
“To LeBron, I appreciate the comment, but it went further back than Phi Slama Jama or the Houston Rockets,” Drexler said.
Of course, the NBA landscape looked a lot different back in the 1960s. But it’ll be nearly impossible for anyone to top the nine of a possible 10 titles that Celtics squad won during that decade.
Thumbnail photo via Bob Donnan/USA TODAY Sports Images
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