Best Third Wheel Stars in NBA History
Throughout NBA history, big threes have been one of the best recipes for a championship. The sad part of this concept is that the third wheel stars tend to go overlooked and often, do not get the credit they deserve. Case in point, Chris Bosh, of the big three Miami Heat, or Heatles, when people would normally focus on LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. However, Bosh is not the first third option to suffer from being overlooked nor will he be the last.
With all of this in mind, it is worth wondering who some of the best third wheel stars have been throughout NBA history. Without further adieu, let’s take a look at which third options were unbelievably talented but still get overlooked to this day.
Best Third Wheel Stars in NBA History
James Worthy was the third part of the star trio of the Showtime Lakers in the 1980s. While Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were the go-to options, Big Game James still had some great moments. A former teammate of Michael Jordan at North Carolina, Worthy made his mark as a great player in the clutch, thus the nickname of Big Game James.
Worthy would win three titles, make seven All-Star Games, and even earned himself a Finals MVP during his time in the league. Throughout his career, Worthy averaged 17.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game. It is a debate, but Worthy has a very good case for being the best third option in NBA history.
You cannot have a list with an all-time Lakers great without mentioning an all-time Boston Celtics great. In this case, we are not talking about Larry Bird compared to Magic Johnson. Instead, we are discussing the Celtics’ third star from their great trio in the 1980s. The often overlooked, Robert Parish. Before he became a journeyman and finished his career with the Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls, he was an integral part of the well-oiled Boston machine.
He would form arguably the best frontcourt in NBA history alongside Kevin McHale and Larry Legend. During his Celtics’ tenure, Parish averaged 16.5 points, 1.5 blocks, and 10.0 rebounds per game. Parish would end his long career with four rings, nine All-Star appearances, and two All-NBA Team appearances. Parish was truly an underrated facet of the great Celtics teams of the 1980s.
You cannot talk about third wheel stars without bringing up Dennis Rodman. Rodman fulfilled his role on the Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan led Chicago Bulls perfectly. He was there to rebound and defend. Say what you will about his character and personality, he provided that extra needed grit the dynastic Bulls needed.
During his time with the Chicago Bulls, he tallied 15.3 rebounds, a defensive rating of 98, and a defensive win share of 14.5. Many forget Rodman was a part of the Bad Boy Detroit Pistons as well which would result in five titles, two All-Star appearances, seven rebounding titles, and two Defensive Player of the Years on his NBA resume. Rodman is the definition of a third wheel star who knew his role.
Manu Ginobili was often the love-hate star on the Spurs’ deadly trio. Tim Duncan was the clear-cut first option, Tony Parker was the reliable point guard, but Ginobli was the energetic scorer who could turn the tide at any moment. He eventually was relegated to the bench where he would thrive. The result?
Ginobli would win a Sixth Man of the Year award and earn four titles, and two All-Star appearances throughout his career. Ginobli was the crafty, left-handed assassin before James Harden was even in the league. He averaged 13.3 points, 1.3 steals, and an effective field goal percentage of 50.3 percent for his career.
Of course, Chris Bosh of the Heatles was bound to appear on this list. Many forget how dominant he was during his time with the Toronto Raptors. When he got to the Heat, his hard work was finally rewarded as he would earn two championships with them. On top of that, Bosh also possesses 11 All-Star appearances, an All-NBA appearance, and made the All-Rookie Team.
In his six seasons with Miami, Bosh averaged 18.0 points, 9.4 rebounds, and a three-point shooting percentage of 34.4 percent before his career was drastically cut short due to a health condition. Many like to focus on King James and D-Wade when they talk about the Heatles, but CB4 deserves more credit for accepting a reduced role and helping them get to four straight NBA Finals.
- Kevin Love of the big three Cleveland Cavaliers.
- Draymond Green of the 73-9 Golden State Warriors.
- James Harden of the Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook led Oklahoma City Thunder.
- Bob Cousy of the 1960s Boston Celtics.