Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Stephen Curry all share one thing—NBA’s hero spotlight. These guys are known for averaging almost 30 a night, leading their teams to championship rings. But what about those who wittingly play their supporting casts? Basketball is a team sport, after all.
NBA superstars cannot carry their teams to victory alone; they need their reliable sidekicks—their Robins—to finish the job. Get to know some of the best Robins who’ve made the biggest impact in the NBA.
Scottie Pippen was the perfect co-pilot to Michael Jordan during the Chicago Bulls’ six-season championship run in the ’90s. Pippen was on hand to assist the captain; he was a great defender and versatile enough as a scorer to complement anything Jordan would do to dominate the game. Like a co-pilot who has undergone critical pilot training programs, Pippen had the talent and skills to take over a game if needed. If Michael Jordan is the GOAT, Pippen is the greatest NBA sidekick who ever played.
Dwyane Wade spent the majority of his NBA career in the Miami Heat. In his third season (2006), Wade took charge and carried the Heat to its first NBA title. He was also the NBA Finals MVP for that season. But when Miami Heat signed LeBron James in 2010, Wade willingly handed over the reins to James.
In an interview with ESPN’s Israel Gutierrez, Wade said, “LeBron is probably the most talented player we’ve seen in a while, but how good can we be? Are we going to be good if me and him are both scoring 27 a night? Yeah, we’re gonna be good, but it would be too much, ‘OK, it’s your turn, now it’s your turn.'”
Wade’s sacrifice paid off. With LeBron James and another great NBA Robin, Chris Bosh, Miami Heat was in four consecutive NBA Finals appearances (2011 to 2014) and won back-to-back titles (2012 and 2013).
Donning the Lakers uniform, Pau Gasol was an ideal Robin to Kobe Bryant during the Lakers’ back-to-back championship run in 2009 and 2010. Gasol’s high basketball IQ made him the go-to option in the post whenever contenders played their tight defense against Bryant. Gasol had steady hands for hook shots and was a smooth finisher around the rim—a perfect complement to Bryant’s ability to score in any spot.
Stephen Curry may be the face of the Golden State Warriors, but Klay Thompson has made huge contributions to make their duo one of the greatest NBA backcourts of all time. Thompson was the biggest reason the Warriors made it to the Finals in 2016 while Curry was sidelined due to injuries. Though Warriors failed to clinch the title in 2016, Curry, Thompson, and the rest of the team won back-to-back championships in 2017 and 2018.
Over the years, Thompson has managed to set multiple NBA records, including playoff record for most three-pointers made in a game (11) and most three-pointers made in a single playoff (98). Those numbers were a significant boost to explosive plays and leadership that Curry brought to the Warriors team.
Just like how Robin made Batman’s job easier, these exceptional sidekicks have helped their superhero teammate reach their full potential. They may not shine as brightly as the superstars, but they have made an enormous impact that has changed NBA history forever. After all, what would Batman be without Robin?