"The Match" NBA Edition: Who Would Win These Epic 2-on-2 Clashes?

Jordan Cohn
May 27, 2020 - 8:29 am

Two great sports rivalries were featured prominently this past weekend in “The Last Match.”

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have been arguably the two biggest faces of golf in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, and though Tiger seems to have the definitive edge in terms of accolades and statistics, Mickelson has gotten the better of him time and time again. In fact, when the two greats have stood atop the leaderboard in 1-2 finishes, representing their closest matches, Mickelson has been the “1” in five of those nine epic clashes.

“The Match”, both the 2020 edition and the initial 2018 challenge, allowed fans to watch the two of them go head-to-head as their rivalry flourished to its highest levels.

When Tom Brady and Peyton Manning joined the party, it brought another famous rivalry to the forefront -- though some would argue that Eli Manning is the true arch-nemesis of Brady. Though it was the rivalry’s first appearance on the golf course, we’ve seen the Brady-Manning clash many times on the gridiron: 17 times, to be exact. Brady was 11-6 over all, but Manning won more when it counted most, with three wins in five postseason matchups.

“The Last Dance” provided hours of much-needed basketball footage, giving NBA fans a behind-the-scenes look at Michael Jordan and finally allowing a younger generation of basketball fans to witness the greatness of the five-time MVP. Part of the expected fallout of the series was a resurfacing of the greatest-of-all-time debate, featuring MJ and LeBron James, and it sure has blown up throughout the NBA universe.

But whereas “The Match” allowed us to watch the rivalries play out, we’re still left wondering how the MJ-LeBron rivalry would have actually manifested itself on the court.

This rivalry and more are part of our “The Match: NBA Edition” hypotheticals, where we pin current and former players alike, envisioning them at their peaks for the sake of this exercise and predicting how each matchup would unfold. Take the interactive quiz at the bottom of the page and see if people agree with your choices!

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A matchup between MJ and LeBron would help to settle at least part of an age-old debate. Photo credit (Anne Ryan/USA Today)| (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Iverson and Harden both utilize(d) devastating handles to create space and embarrass defenders. Photo credit (Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images) | (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
The stars of the 2019 NBA Draft would face stiff competition in a matchup against the class of 2018. Photo credit (Derick E. Hingle/USA Today) | (Bob Donnan/USA Today)
The lobs would come early and often in this exciting, high-flying matchup. Photo credit (Harry How/Getty Images) | (Brian Bahr/Allsport/Getty Images)
The organizers of this match might want to move the three-point line back a few feet. Photo credit (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) | (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
An established duo of superstar wings would use their experience to their advantage over an up-and-coming duo. Photo credit (Tom Szczerbowski/USA Today) | (Jeff Hanisch/USA Today)
The Blazers and the Wizards are both attempting to sneak into the playoffs in 2020. Photo credit (Steve Dykes/Getty Images) | (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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