Memorable NBA player duels
George Mikan vs. Harry Gallatin
By now, the story is legend, of how Mikan would roll into New York with his Minneapolis Lakers and the Madison Square Garden marquee would read "Geo. Mikan vs. the Knicks."
History, of course, would say otherwise. During each of Mikan's four All-Star seasons, from 1951 through 1954, Harry Gallatin, who often helped man the middle for the Knicks, also was an All-Star.
Paul Arizin vs. Mel Hutchins
While Arizin, a Hall of Famer, could sizzle with his jumper as well as jump over you, Hutchins did a great job of keeping the versatile forward grounded when Arizin's Warriors faced Hutchins' Hawks, Pistons and Knicks.
Hutchins never matched Arizin's scoring totals during their matchups throughout the 1950s, but he made it difficult for Arizin to get his shot off and knocked him around.
Bob Cousy vs. Slater Martin
They were the floor leaders of the NBA's first dynasties, Martin with the Minneapolis Lakers, Cousy with the Boston Celtics.
They often were overshadowed by their rosters' depth of talent.
But they were the little engines that not only could, but often had to make the difference in a rivalry that spanned the 1950s.
Jerry West vs. K.C. Jones
This is a tough one, only because it comes at the expense of another deserving West matchup, his meetings with Oscar Robertson.
While Jones considered West and Robertson his toughest covers, West flat out called Jones his defensive nightmare.
"When Cousy retired," West once said, "I then had to play against K.C. And I couldn't stand playing against K.C."
Bill Russell vs. Wilt Chamberlain
Size up Chamberlain against Russell in the record book and Wilt towers over his Celtics counterpart. Take a measurement of the man by the standings, and Russell, as often was the case, swats Chamberlain aside.
In all, Russell and Chamberlain met 142 times over a 10-year period, with Russell's Celtics winning nine NBA titles and Chamberlain's Lakers one.
Walt Frazier vs. Earl Monroe
For three consecutive years, starting in 1969, Monroe's Bullets would meet Frazier's Knicks in the playoffs.
Consider it arguably the NBA's flashiest rivalry, Monroe's offensive theatrics versus Frazier's silky smooth retorts.
A fourth consecutive playoff meeting was foiled only when Monroe was dealt to the Knicks in 1971.
Julius Erving vs. George McGinnis
Mostly, it was perhaps the ABA's ultimate rivalry. For three straight seasons, Erving and McGinnis stood 1-2 in the ABA in scoring.
McGinnis would move to the NBA and the 76ers in 1975-76. A season later, Erving would join him in Philadelphia. There, the partnership was uneven and taxing. Somehow, even on the same team, they were cast as rivals.
Larry Bird vs. Magic Johnson
It started with Johnson's Michigan State defeating Bird's previously unbeaten Indiana State in arguably the greatest NCAA title game in 1979.
It continued through epic Lakers-Celtics battles on the NBA's ultimate playoff stage. Magic won titles in 1980, '82, '85, '87 and '88. Larry in '81, '84 and '86.
Michael Jordan vs. Joe Dumars
While few equate Dumars making Jordan better, as perhaps Larry Bird and Magic Johnson did with each other, their early showdowns made it clear that there had to be more than Jordan going one-on-five. Chicago eventually moved to the triangle offense and Jordan emerged as a more trusting teammate.
Charles Barkley vs. Karl Malone
They were the quintessential power forwards in the NBA in from the late '80s through the mid '90s - even if they were Mutt and Jeff in appearance.
Karl Malone was long, muscular. Charles Barkley wasn't and wasn't.
Both will be remembered for failing to secure a championship, with Michael Jordan standing in the way for each.
Shaquille O'Neal vs. David Robinson
Real or imagined, Shaq spent most of his career feeling disrespected by Robinson, a sense he said dated to his high school days in San Antonio, amid rebuffed attempts to get autographs from Robinson.
Then came closing day in 1994, when, needing to outscore O'Neal by four points to win the scoring title, Robinson poured in 71 against the Clippers. Robinson ended with a 29.8-29.3 edge.
Lebron James vs. Paul Pierce
Many would argue LeBron-Kobe, some would argue LeBron-Durant, but Paul Pierce vs. LeBron James in the Playoffs trumps them both.
The sensei (LeBron) eventually became the master, but not before King James left his hometown for South Beach. The pair faced each other in five Eastern Conference series since 2008.
Pierce took the first two, James the next three.