Basketball is a sports team and therefore, you need more than just an individual performance to pull it off, becoming more of a team effort than pretty much any other single competitive major sport.
Nonetheless, it’s pretty safe to say that every team relies either on the offense or defense of one of its talented players, but more often than not, those guys have to settle with individual distinctions due to the lack of collective success their respective teams have.
But, imagine if you could take those guys to your local YMCA and watch them play for glory one against the other, just the two of them on an ultimate faceoff without having to worry about screens, help defense or setting their teammates up.
Today, we’ll do precisely that, taking a look at the ultimate top 10 1 on 1 matchups you could expect on a basketball court.
10. Elgin Baylor vs. Julius Erving
Following this old school matchup kind of thing, we’d thrive to watch Dr. J and Baylor try and beat each other as two of the most talented players in the small forward position to ever lace them up.
Baylor would have an upper hand when it comes to versatility, but Erving’s athleticism and speed would mean a lot of trouble for the former Laker, giving him the upper hand in this 1 on 1 scenario.
9. Kawhi Leonard vs. Scottie Pippen
This would definitely be one of the most interesting matchups ever, with both players being defensive standouts that could also put a lot of numbers on the scoreboard with their strength and versatility.
Still, this matchup would be definitely settled with the last shot, and defense would set the tone all the way here. Expect at least 8 combined blocks and the same number of steals, as these guys are practically the same player, and they’re two of the best defenders in the history of the game.
8. Tracy McGrady vs. Vince Carter
T-Mac is definitely one of the most talented offensive players this game has ever seen, and he was virtually unstoppable during his prime, while Carter has always been an athletic freak that could dunk over pretty much everybody.
On top of that, these guys are actually cousins, so they have to know each other perfectly and the way they play with their flukes and advantages, so even if McGrady seems like the favorite here, we’d be watching a very close matchup between the two.
7. Kevin Garnett vs. Tim Duncan
Modern basketball lovers would probably hate this matchup, as neither of these guys is the most flashy or entertaining to watch, but we would be witnesses of a die hard battle in the paint if the big ticket and the big fundamental faced each other once again.
With both being giant superhumans with a sick wingspan and a lot of defensive awareness, this game would be completely physical, with Duncan having the advantage on defense while Garnett would be more suited on the offensive end of the floor.
6. Bill Russell vs. Wilt Chamberlain
While Bill Russell won 11 NBA rings with the Boston Celtics, Wilt Chamberlain became the most dominant scorer and rebounder in the history of the game, being able to post a 50 point 25 rebound game on any given night.
Of course, the game has changed a lot, but wouldn’t it be crazy to watch these couple of incredibly tall and skinny centers go at it to determine the best player of all times (before the surge or Jordan) dispute?
5. Shaquille O'Neal vs. Hakeem Olajuwon
Wow! This would be just incredible. This duel would feature the most dominant center against the most talented center in the history of the game and perhaps one of the few players that could actually make Shaq struggle on offense.
Hakeem’s feet game and his incredibly developed offensive game would give him the upper hand against Shaq, although I can’t imagine somebody ever trying to slow O'Neal down one on one if he takes you to the rim.
4. Allen Iverson vs. Kyrie Irving
These guys probably own the best handles and crossovers in the history of the game, and considering how questionable both guys are on the defensive end of the floor, we could be in for an offensive treat.
Just picture Iverson crossing Irving or Kyrie fading on Allen, and we could be watching perhaps the most versatile offensive clinic in the history of the game, with Kyrie showing a lot of tricks from the bag and Iverson taking him all the way to the rim with his explosiveness and athleticism.
3. Larry Bird vs. Magic Johnson
This is one of the most fierce rivalries in basketball history, and even though they faced each other dozens of times through their careers, it would be a hoot to watch them hoop one on one to finally settle the dispute between the two.
Bird’s range could help him beat Magic, but Johnson’s speed, wingspan and versatility would give him a huge advantage against Larry Legend. In the end, we’ll be thrilled with whoever wins, and we should definitely make this happen.
2. LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant
James has been at the top of the world of basketball since the very first day he set foot on the court, but it’s pretty safe to say that Durant’s time has finally arrived after leading the Golden State Warriors to the championship.
Durant’s improved rim protection could mean trouble for LeBron, although it’s pretty clear that James has the upper hand when it comes to the physique. Nevertheless, Durant could easily take the triumph home with his unlimited range and crafty pull-up shots.
1. Michael Jordan vs. Kobe Bryant
And last but not least, we got the matchup of a lifetime, the best player in the history of the game against the ultimate leader of the league the decade after he decided to retire, with both players having a very similar offensive game.
Still, Jordan would overcome Bryant in this scenario due to his defensive ability, but considering the competitive nature of Bryant and how focused he could be on defense against elite offensive players, this game could actually go on and on for hours and nobody would even complain.