The 13 Best Sports Duos of All-Time, Ranked

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Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

So, you're wondering who the best sports duos of all-time are? Let's talk about it!

An athlete can be the best player to ever step foot on the planet, but without the proper support from teammates, it's difficult to fully excel. Some of the most memorable players of all-time earned their legacy with a little bit of help from colleagues who complemented their talents and pushed them to be the best.

Related: The 20 Best NFL Games of All-Time

Here, we'll break down some of the best and most memorable duos who joined forces and dominated their sports.

1. Michael Jordan & Scottie Pippen

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  • Years Played Together: 1987-1998

Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen arguably set the standard for dynamic basketball duos. Their years of playing together on the Chicago Bulls during the 1990s was a constant showcase of their talents that effortlessly complimented each other and created many years of unparalleled success. 

Michael Jordan's otherworldly ability to score mixed with Scottie Pippen's versatile ball skills allowed them to be an offensive and defensive power duo. Together, they lead the Bulls to six NBA championships. They played remarkably well together and their mutual respect and a shared passion to be the best of the best was amazing to watch.

2. Babe Ruth & Lou Gehrig

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New York Daily News Archive / Getty Images
  • Years Played Together: 1925-1934

The New York Yankees had many years of excellence with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig at the helm in the 1920s and 1930s. They are one of the most legendary duos to have played together due to the way that each of their talents complimented each other and made their team better. They were natural leaders who led the Yankees to numerous championships. Ruth's power-hitting and Gehrig's consistency made them a tough pair for opponents to face. 

The duo embodied the spirit of the game and will forever be remembered by the Yankees and all of baseball.

3. Magic Johnson & Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

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Andrew D. Bernstein / Getty Images
  • Years Played Together: 1979-1989

The Los Angeles Lakers in the 1980s were defined by the duo of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Abdul-Jabbar's hookshot and dominance at the post made him next to impossible to defend. Magic Johnson's extraordinary playmaking skills and ability to anticipate the next move was unrivaled. Together, they worked like a single unit, giving opponents a masterclass in teamwork. Johnson and Abdul-Jabbar were like a scoring machine that propelled the Lakers to multiple championships. They led the league with their ability to excel in fast-paced and electrifying basketball. 

Abdul-Jabbar and Johnson were able to succeed so well together because of their mutual admiration, which also inspired their teammates who looked up to the pair for leadership. They were so much fun to watch, and their legacy will live on forever. 

4. Venus Williams & Serena Williams

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Tim Clayton - Corbis / Getty Images
  • Years Played Together: 1995-2020

Fans of tennis have been blessed for decades by being able to witness the extraordinary duo of Venus and Serena Williams. The tennis siblings have a unique and unrivaled partnership that has forever changed tennis. Though they each have distinctive playing styles, they complemented each other like no other tennis pair could. Venus's powerful serves and skills at the net were enhanced by Serena's mighty forehand and backhands. 

Together, Venus and Serena shattered records, with 30 total Grand Slam titles between the two of them. They dominated as singles, and were virtually unstoppable as doubles partners. Their drive and overall passion for the sport has been inspiring for fans all of those who have been lucky to watch the superstars grow as players and become the legends that they will forever be remembered as, both on their own, and as a set.

5. Misty May-Treanor & Kerri Walsh Jennings

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Jamie Squire / Getty Images
  • Years Played Together: 2001-2012

When you think of the summer Olympics, Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings are likely to come to mind. The beach volleyball duo seem to have been around forever, as their unparalleled partnership was dominant for so many years. May-Treanor and Walsh-Jennings chemistry was a testament to their extraordinary athleticism and passion for the game. 

May-Treanor had defensive skills unlike any other and her precise ball control helped to set Walsh Jennings up to showcase her dominant net play and powerful spikes. Together, they won three consecutive Olympic gold medals and multiple World Championship titles. May-Treanor and Walsh Jennings' legacy is a well earned accolade that has defined the volleyball game forever.

6. Wayne Gretsky & Mark Messier

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Steve Babineau / Getty Images
  • Years Played Together: 1979-1988, 1996-1997

Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky are not only two of the greatest hockey players of all time on their own, but as a duo, they formed an extraordinary partnership that forever changed the sport of hockey. Gretzky was a natural playmaker and offensive powerhouse. Messier was a passionate leader who was a versatile player. While on the Edmonton Oilers together, they brought home multiple Stanley Cup championships. Though they spent several seasons apart in their career, they were eventually reunited again in 1996 on the New York Rangers toward the end of their careers.

7. Manny Ramirez & David Ortiz

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Chuck Rydlewski / Getty Images
  • Years Played Together: 2003-2008

David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez are two Boston Red Sox legends who together brought many years of success and exhilarating seasons to Red Sox fans. Ortiz was a clutch hitter who hit countless memorable home runs.Ramirez's hitting power allowed him to drive in run after run. Ramirez and Ortiz formed the heart and soul of the Red Sox lineup for many years, helping to lead the team to secure two World Series championships in 2004 and 2007. 

Ortiz is a charismatic personality whose attitude seamlessly melded with Ramirez's unconventional approach to the game. The duo's legacy as Boston sports icons is a testament to their remarkable talent and passion for the game of baseball.

8. Lionel Messi & Luis Suarez

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Tim Clayton - Corbis / Getty Images
  • Years Played Together: 2014-2020

The soccer world was blessed to be able to witness many years of Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez dominating the field together. Messi is one of the most skilled players of all time, with unparalleled dribbling skills, and playmaking abilities like no other. Suárez is a highly intelligent player whose level of conditioning allows him to perform at the highest levels. While playing together for FC Barcelona, the duo was unbelievably dominant. 

What made them so dangerous was their ability to anticipate each other's next move. Both players are highly intelligent, which made them so hard to compete against, especially as a duo. Their time together at Barcelona resulted in numerous titles, including Champions League championships and domestic league titles.

9. Mickey Mantle & Roger Maris

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Transcendental Graphics / Getty Images
  • Years Played Together: 1960-1966

Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris are two iconic baseball figures, who were exhilarating to watch when they joined forces as teammates on the New York Yankees. Mantle's natural athleticism, power hitting, and unique ability to switch-hit, paired with Maris's consistency at the plate made them one of the most successful combinations of hitters in all of baseball. 

They captivated the baseball world during the 1961 season, famously known as the "M&M Boys." Mantle and Maris were set out on a friendly rivalry toward beating Babe Ruth's single-season home run record, which added another level of excitement to their epic season. Maris eventually broke the record that season, but their legacy as a pair endured, making them one of  the most memorable duos in baseball history.

10. Tom Brady & Rob Gronkowski

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Jim Rogash / Getty Images
  • Years Played Together: 2010-2018, 2020-2021

For several years on the New England Patriots, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski formed a connection that allowed them to consistently deliver clutch plays and game-changing moments. Once Brady ended his epic tenure in New England, Gronkowski surprised the football world by following Brady to Tampa Bay, thus extending the quarterback-tight end duo.

Brady’s precision, leadership, and football IQ make him one of the greatest (if not the greatest) quarterbacks of all time. Gronkowski's physicality, exceptional catching skills, size make him a receiver who was insanely difficult to defend. The duo’s chemistry and trust in each other's abilities were evident in countless critical situations, including many pivotal playoff moments. Brady and Gronkowski will go down as one of the most memorable duos of all time.

11. Sandy Koufax & Don Drysdale

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Focus On Sport / Getty Images
  • Years Played Together: 1955-1966

It may seem odd that two players of the same position could be such a powerful duo, but Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale earned a place on this list because of their combined talents that created years of dominance on the mound for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Koufax had a blazing fastball, jaw-dropping curveball, and remarkable control. Drysdale had a powerful arm and was a fierce competitor with unbreakable determination. 

Their dominance in the 1960s is often referred to as "The Boys of Summer”. They left were a nightmare for opposing batters and ultimately led the Dodgers to multiple pennants and a World Series championship. The pair is solidified as one the most feared duo of pitchers in the game.

12. Shaquille O’Neal & Kobe Bryant

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MIKE FIALA / Getty Images
  • Years Played Together: 1996-2004

Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant, left an undeniable mark on the basketball world during their time together on the Los Angeles Lakers. Their contrasting playing styles created a dynamic synergy that was both mesmerizing and dominant.

O'Neal had a threatening presence in the paint, largely due to his imposing size and strength. He was perfectly balanced by Bryant's ball-handling skills. Shaq and Kobe led the Lakers in their era of dominance which resulted in multiple NBA championships. Their occasional on-court tensions only fueled their passion and therefore their performance, making their bond unbreakable. They will forever be remembered for some legendary alley-oop connections and overall ability to function as one unit who helped each other excel.

13. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson

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Adam Glanzman / Getty Images
  • Years Played Together: 2011-Present

Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, A.K.A. the “Splash Brothers", showcasing long-range shooting accuracy, court awareness, and ability to set each other up have revolutionized the sport. They never make it easy on the opposing team’s defense. Curry's deep three-pointers and mesmerizing ball-handling skills, mixed with  Thompson's quick release and textbook shooting form have helped them shatter records and transform offensive strategies. 

The duo has led the Warriors to multiple NBA championships and will likely continue to dominate for as long as they remain on the same team.

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