My choices for this team are not all top-6 all-time talent, but rather a group that could handle any opposing team, big - small- or mid-sized. A mix of offense, defense, playmaking, rebounding and ball-handling, with no glaring weaknesses. They all need to be 6'8" or taller.
Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were opponents in college and the pros. They were both 12-time All-Stars and three-time MVP's. Magic garnered five rings and Larry got three. Johnson could play any position on the court, and Bird could play either forward position. These two 6'9" super stars revitalized the NBA at a time when it was needed. Magic is at the point and Larry is the power forward.
Lebron James is still playing but has already collected three Championship rings, four MVP trophies and three Finals MVP awards. At 6'8", The King made the cut, and goes into the back court with Magic.
Hakeem Olajuwon, at an even 7-feet starts at center. He gets the nod over Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Shaquille O'Neal, mainly because of his versatility. He was a two-time NBA Champion, two-time Finals MVP, 12-time All-Star and 9-time All-Defensive Team. The Dream led the League in rebounding twice and in blocks three times.
Scottie Pippen, at 6'8", goes into the small forward slot. He has six Championship rings and was on the All-Defensive team 10 times. His talent and accomplishments can often be missed due to the fact that he played in the shadow of Michael Jordan. Pip could do quite a bit of everything on the court.
Every team needs a guy with size, talent, versatility and - most of all - the fire to compete. The 6'8.5" Dave Cowens had all that. He could handle the bigs like Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and he could move and defend anyone else of any size. Big Red was just plain quick and could jump out of the building. He was a 2-time Champion, MVP, 8-time All-Star and 3-time All-Defensive Team. Most of all, he was a tough competitor.
Once again, these may not be the top-six big men of all time, but as a unit taking on all-comers, I feel it would be tough to beat them. Looking forward to lineups from our readers.
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Bird/Johnson photo via Richard Mackson/SI
James photo via Jesse Garrabrant/Getty Images
Pippen photo via Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images
Cowens photo via Dick Raphael/NBAE/Getty Images
Alajuwon photo via Barry Gossage/Getty Images