Thursday, December 17th, 2009 at 8:00 am  |  53 responses

Decade’s Best: Backcourt

Rip and Chauncey: Consistent. Effective. Exciting?

by Quinn Peterson

At first, I had trouble coming up with a good answer for this. It’s hard to think of two guys — if not more — who had the perfect combination of impressive stats, post-season success, and years playing together.

Steve Nash and JKidd are no doubt the two best PGs of the decade, but who were their running mates? Leo Barbosa and Jason Richardson in the case of Nash. He had Joe Johnson by his side at one point, but that was only for a year. JKidd had Vinsanity for a few years but they never won anything. And Kerry Kittles… (Pardon me I had to laugh at that.)

Tony Parker was also had a great PG of the ’00s, but like Nash and Kidd, Parker’s sidekicks were never been up to par. Michael Finley and Manu Ginoboli are both solid, but few would call them top 2-men in the NBA.

DWade and Kobe are probably the best 2 guards of the decade. But, DWade has never played alongside another guard anywhere near his caliber.

How about Kobe and DFish, though? For a while, I was convinced it was those two who made up the “Best Backcourt of the Decade.” Four NBA Championships, plenty of Ws, and about as many clutch baskets as there are years on a “Spike Lee Joint” New Era. Kobe is Kobe, and we know this. Derek Fisher plays his role in Phil Jackson’s offense perfect to a T. At the same time, Fish has never been an all-star and isn’t on the top of anyone’s list when it comes to talking about top PGs in the NBA. A case could be made for those two, but it’s a rather lopsided tandem, and I was convinced that there just had to be one backcourt that was better.

Then it hit me in the face like Paq-man: Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton.

Both arrived in the The D in ’02 (word to Joe Dumars), and from then until 2008, there was not a more consistent duo in the L. Boring? Maybe. But night in, night out, you knew what you were going to get.

Every game was business as usual with those two. That great defense that dominated (and killed?) the League for so many years started with Chauncey. And Mr. Big Shot was as cool and clutch as they come. Meanwhile, Rip, trademark facemask and free-throw routine and all, replaced Reggie Miller as the best moving without the ball in the League. He was the best mid-range shooter in the L, the best shooter coming off screens in the L, and a top free-throw shooter. They were the No. 1 and No. 2 leading scorers for the Pistons in every one of those seasons they shared together in the D. Both three-time All-Stars, Chauncey the 2004 Finals MVP.

Those Pistons everyone loved to hate. As a Pacers fan I initially hated them as much as anybody, but by the latter half of the 00s, I loved that “swagger” that they had that let them walk into every gym not caring who the opponent, but knowing they could beat them. Regardless of their record or most recent showing, there was always the feeling that on any given night, they could take down anybody — when they felt like it. I’m sure there are some reading this that hated those Pistons teams, too, and probably still do. At the end of the day, though, men lie and women lie, but numbers don’t.

Check the stats, though, and you see their resume is impeccable: six-straight 50-win seasons. Six-straight trips to the Conference Finals. Five first place finishes in the Central Division and the Eastern Conference (Indiana won both in ’03-04). Two NBA Finals appearances. One NBA Championship. A cumulative record of 334-158. Only San Antonio and Dallas have more impressive records during that six-year span.

‘Sheed and Big Ben weren’t there for all of those years (of course, Detroit was certainly at their best with both), but Chauncey and Rip were. Still stacking Ws. Equally impressive is the fact that they did it under three different head coaches. First Rick Carlisle, then Larry Brown and finally Flip Saunders. Three coaches in six years, but the wins kept coming.

Why? What was the one constant? The backcourt.

There were a number of good backcourts in the decade, namely the Spurs and Lakers as aforementioned. But with their rocksteady play, Billups and Hamilton stood out the most, putting the Pistons on their shoulders and steering the D back to NBA prominence.

Chauncey and Rip — Best backcourt of the Decade.


For more Decade Awards, check out the archive.

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  • Sporting-Lisbon-Blazers

    first…Manu´s obviously better than Rip!!!!!!!!!!!!!Parker and big shot maybe a wash…PARKER AND MANU OR Kidd and VC

  • http://www.basketballnonsense.com Melvin

    i agree so much…

  • German Reignman


  • http://www.forevercherishedproductions.com aaron

    I agree. There are a bunch of obviously better individual players, but no backcourt compares.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Ginobli isn’t a top shooting guard in the NBA? What?

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    I’m pretty sure its been known for a while that Ginboli is one of the best shooting guards in the game right now…

  • jdn41

    yeah they’re prolly the best, but how about the worst? id say sebastian telfare and marko jaric has to take it hands down horrible horiible backcourt

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne


  • LeoneL

    excitting? i would vote for cuttino mobley and steve francis…but the best? mosdef rip and chauncey.

  • d.j.

    i agree with this choice a 100% too….

  • Big Marv

    I can only agree. As with all the great teams, it only lasts for so long. Magic season of 2003-2004, feels like yesterday.

  • http://slamonline.com Adam Fleischer

    I like the thought process that lead you there and the break down of it. Nice piece.

  • max

    i almost stopped reading after your remark concerning mr. ginobili… however, the rest of it was a really nice read

  • http://www.teflinprague.com SAB

    yes, it’s hard to disagree, except with the Ginobili line, which is ridiculous

  • Cskin

    That Ginoboli comment discredits this whole article. The man was putting up Numbers comparable to Kobe’s for most of those years.

  • Elias

    Kidd and VC are better players than Chauncey and Rip, but the thing is that VC and Kidd never won a championship, CB and Rip won one, and they got to the confrence finals almost every year, so they win. I would take VC over Rip and Kidd(in his prime) over Chauncey.

  • UnRel

    since the best dunker of the decade never played an nba game.. the best back court.. hands down was jkidd and kobe.. or dwade and kobe.. from the re-deem team..

  • http://zsmart.blogspot.com zachsmart

    2004 they scorched the nets and with the help of the Prince, implemented the straightcoat defense on opponents Nice Work Quinn

  • http://freshnproper.com Q

    @cskin: comparable to who??? Manu has never played 82 games, averaged more than 30 minutes, and he’s only averaged more than 17 points once or twice. Never an all star. He was awesome for the Spurs – in his role. Like Fisher, he perfected his role with his team, but I don’t think that makes him a great shooting guard. Moreover, he and TP never had to carry the Spurs the way Chauncey and Rip did, especially offensively.

  • don

    manun not good enuf for you? wow.

  • http://dfinney0415@yahoo.com KR

    Detroit basketball…I assume eventually if they add a legitimate Center, Ben Gordon and Rodney Stuckey may compete in the 10s. We’ll see….

  • whooo!

    Q, Manu was an all-star in ’05, their championship year. many also felt he could’ve been Finals MVP with the way he played. the funny thing though is that Parker wasn’t that great in ’05, but 2 years later, he’s Finals MVP. that backcourt is no joke. in ’07, they averaged 35.1ppg, but on nearly 50% shooting! i think they do get hit in the sense that Duncan was clearly the foundation of those Spurs teams, but do not sleep on Manu’s efficiency just becauase the guy sacrifices minutes & a starters role for wins & championships.

  • Josh

    Ouch, I’m not sure about this. Billups and Rip were good, but I don’t think you should look at years played together. This is decades best backcourt, so I think you should look at one year at a time, like the decades best frontcourt was looked at. I think that article was done much better.

  • LA Huey

    Manu/Tony are great but Chauncey/Rip wins out due to their stability and durability.

  • http://freshnproper.com Q

    I stand corrected, Manu was an all-star 04-05. Thanks “Whooo!”, you make some great points….respect.

  • http://www.asternwarning.com mookie

    Give me Manu Ginobili any day over Rip Hamilton.

  • http://slamonline.com Jacob J

    @ mookie. Im certain its the other way around.

  • baller

    What about Kobe and Derek fisher

  • http://www.sonicbids.com doyouwantmore

    In what world is Manu not a top 2-guard, especially over the past decade? Chauncey and Rip might be a distant second, but no way do they show more success than Tony and Manu.

  • ab_40

    wow manu from 2000 till now not a top 2 man in the L. are you serious? and detroit had the best starting 5 of the decade not the phoenix sunblisters

  • ab_40

    and you can make a case for gulp… larry hughes and gilbert arenas together in washington. they were tough to stop both 20 + ppg scorers with hughes being one of the leauge leaders in steals

  • http://www.need4sheed.com Tarzan Cooper

    wow, this is more bs. slam is crapping the bed with these decades things. manu not a top 2 guard? tony and manu are many steps above billups and rip, when they got to the finals, they won. none of that choking in the conf finals stuff the pistons loved so much. it took a fish .4 shot to beat them on 04 and ot game 7 for the mavs to beat them in 06, or wed be talking 5peat for the spurs. hate all you want but they have 3 titles in 00s, one at pistons expense. whats a quinn peterson anyways? you should be fired just for the manu comments. hes only the greatest winner in basketball all over the world ever. euro, olympics, nba.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    You’re not making sense.
    The Spurs have lost in the playoffs with Manu and Parker playing. You gave two examples. Why should Chauncey and Hamilton be penalized for losing in the playoffs, but not Manu and Tony? I mean, Manu and Tony were playing with the greatest power forward of all time, in case you forgot.

  • blackpinoy

    its a tough discussion whether its billups / hamilton or parker / ginobili…id have to say parker and ginobili is a deadly backcourt but its just that hamilton and billups are straight up consistent every year..so id say yes to billups and hamilton though id take ginobili over rip everytime… billups over parker though

  • Atrain

    I’d take Kobe and Fisher over these two, or Parker/Manu

  • http://thegayestwebsiteever.com Big Ben

    Exactly. Switch Sheed with Duncan, and see how many titles the Pistons would have won. The Spurs barely beat the Pistons straight up, and the best player on the floor was Duncan – nobody else on either team even comes close. So yeah, switch Timmy and Sheed and then see how good Manu and Tony look – not anything against Sheed, he’ll always be my favorite player, but he’s not in Duncan’s league. Plus, just because Rip’s game is kind of dull, he always got the job done. He’s probably the most underrated top scorer on an elite team of the decade. I know Manu is a flamboyant Argentinian who throws down a sick dunk from time to time, but Rip is like a (much less talented) Duncan of shooting guards, quietly putting his mark on every game night in and night out. You might have your preferences one way or the other, but to say that Manu is head and shoulders above Rip is just silly.

  • D-R

    While I definitely found it to be absolute BS to say that Manu isn’t a top 2 guard in the league, even if you assume he is, he still doesn’t stack up as well as Rip does, and Rip is terribly, terribly underrated because of the raw lack of flash he has. But make no mistake, the man’s numbers almost never dipped.

  • J

    manu & tony, Chauncey & Rip fit exactly in their respective teams, but to say that “if we switch Tim & Sheed” would be somehow unfair. Tim is the main cog and Manu-Tony are the main supports, on the opposite, Chauncey-Rip are the main cogs(if there’s any in that Pistons team)and Sheed is the support.

  • chintao

    Manu’s overrated by 90% of the SLAMnation.

  • http://www.kb24.com The Seed

    Kobe and Fish would beat manu/tony and chanucey/rip in one on one anyday. First off to be best backcourt means you need to step up offensively and defensivley. RIP and MANU both are only offense and Tony and Chanucey are decent defenders. Kobe can do both and fish in his hayday, but not now, could take a charge from anywhere on the court, if you remember his games. The Lakers Kobe and Fish with 4 rings, clutch shots are the best. Then Manu/Rip, I would take nash/finley over rip/chanucey.

  • Nigel

    Agreed. No other back court had that kind of chemistry they had. Both had great D and we automatic on offense. They where very big, which helped them on both ends of the floor. As well.

    Some others to ponder…


  • http://www.kb24.com The Seed

    Nigel, Rip and Chanucey did not play Defense, they had great frontcourt players who could be consider the decades best frontcourt of Wallace, Wallace and Prince made up for the backcourt. When did Rip and Chanucey every shut people down. Thats why in my above argument Kobe and Fish should win, because when fish was younger he could stay with and take a charge like no other and we know Kobe can lock people down.

  • Ben Flook

    I no most people have already commented but still, Manu not one of the better/best two guards in the league the last decade? I read that part then went straight to comments to see if anyone else picked that up. Like someone else said i feel that discredited the whole article slightly. However i agree with Billups/Rip best back court, im going to assume that was just a massive blunder in judgement for a split second

  • Ben Flook

    Also what you wrote back about Manu being excellent in his role for this team, if you put Manu on another team that needed a proven scorer at the 2 and gave him the minutes i feel he could average 20 on the season no doubt. Maybe not anymore but a few years back definitely

  • Brian

    Big Ben was actually there before Chauncey and Rip. Ben arrived in the the D in the summer of 2000. You might remember himself and Chucky Atkins being traded for some guy named Grant Hill.

  • davidR

    the seed. rip and chauncey play great one on one perimeter d.

  • davidR

    not the best, but baron and jrich are my fave (though short lived) backcourt. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeWYmWYLMZQ

  • Ken

    How soon y’all forget about the Starbury-Franchise backcourt.

  • http://www.kb24.com The Seed

    davidR, are you serious, rip can be posted up, can’t block shots and can’t even guard a stick post. Also if chanuncey plays D, show me the tape, because don’t let the Big shot statements go to your head, thats only for taking shots at crucial times in games. His defense is on par with derrick rose, they have big bodies, thats it. Can’t believe rip-trade me-shoot hamilton and chanucey I take big shots-miss more billups is best backcourt. People forget just years ago, Billups choked the pistons out numerous finals apperances, most notable choke games aginst the cavs and I believe if Billups played better at the point, my Lakers would have lost last year, he took alot of bad shots, trying to put the Lakers away and his defensive was atrocious for denver. Just watch this year with billups running the show.

  • J

    @seed: manu is only offense? you watch manu?

  • http://thegayestwebsiteever.com Big Ben

    @The Seed:

    First of all, being the best backcourt has nothing to do with who would win one-on-one – it’s a team game. Oh, and I think the Lakers and Pistons backcourt DID meet up in the playoffs a few years ago… how convenient! Oh, and how did that match-up turn out? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

    Of course, the Spurs and Pistons backcourts met up in the playoffs once too, but that’s clearly irrelevant…

  • http://www.slamonline.com Chris Deaton

    Nice. Chauncey and Rip made a consistent, efficient and winning duo. Ginobli has matched with Parker nicely, but the former hasn’t been steady enough to warrant the pair the decade’s best.

  • Peter Rumm MD

    Parker and Manu Ginobili are so more accompllshed vs Hamilton and Billups that it is not even debatable.

    They have been key contributors to three tiltes
    + Manu statistically is the MOST clutch player in the NBA (hit any search engine to prove it) and Parker toyed with the Pistons in his MVP finals and Parker CONSISTENTLY outplayed all the PGs your mentioned when it counted.