The Golden State Warriors team this year has played as one of the greatest teams in the history of the NBA. Stephen Curry is showing to be an once-in-a-lifetime type player and combined with a group of really good players such as Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes, and Andre Iguodala, the team can run twelve deep. Hands down, they are the favorite going into the NBA Playoffs. That being said, if you go on any NBA social media, any mention of the Golden State Warriors amazing season is usually followed by a mention of the famous 1995-96 Chicago Bulls team. The Michael Jordan led squad went an NBA record 72-10 in the regular season and won their fourth title in a six year stretch. Ever great NBA team since then has had to be compared to what many people look at as the greatest team in the league’s history. Those people tend not to be old enough to remember Clinton’s presidency, the Crime of the Century, or Y2K, because if they did, they would go back a decade earlier and see that the NBA’s best teams reside in Boston and Los Angeles.
Throughout the 1980s, the capitals of the Basketball World were two cities over 3,000 miles away from each other. The Boston Celtics, led by the trio of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish won three titles in a five year stretch in the decade. While on the west coast, the “Showtime” Lakers won five titles in the entire decade. The team featured arguably the greatest point guard and center in NBA history in Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul Jabbar, as well as Hall of Famers James Worthy and Bob McAdoo. So it is only appropriate that they aren’t even discussed when talking about the best single season team in NBA History.
The 1986-87 Lakers went 65-17 and lost a total of three playoff games to win their fourth title in the decade. Magic Johnson earned his first of three MVPs this season averaging 24 points and 12 assist per game. The year prior, the Boston Celtics went 67-15 and lost only one home game throughout the season. The team featured league MVP Larry Bird and Sixth Man of the Year Bill Walton. Comparing the four teams, the Lakers featured six players who averaged double digit points per game while the Celtics featured five. Golden State has four and Chicago three.
The best quality of the 1996 Bulls was having one of the best defensive team’s in history, with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen proving to be two of the best on ball defenders in the league and Dennis Rodman leading the league in rebounding for a fifth straight year. Golden State is obviously the three point shot. Aside from that, the Lakers and Celtics had the best complete team. On offense, the Celtics’ front court of Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish averaged a combined 63.2 points and 27.4 rebounds per game. The Lakers offense averaged 117.8 points per game and shot over 51 percent from the field. Less we not forget that Kareem still had the game’s most unstoppable shot with the sky hook, which a seven footer couldn’t block so what hope do Draymond Green and Dennis Rodman had against it.
When the Bulls won their first title in 1991 against the Lakers, it was a completely different Lakers squad. No Pat Riley at the helm. No Kareem being an easy two points. An older James Worthy so to retirement. This was not the “Showtime” Lakers anymore. As much as I respect and love the Michael Jordan Bulls teams, the best Laker team or Celtic team in the 1980s would win a seven game series against any Bulls team. And Golden State may have the benefit of the three, but any team with defenders such as Michael Cooper, Dennis Johnson, or even a tall man like Magic would tire out Steph Curry, who unlike those other teams, still need to a great scoring game to be benefit his team. No player on the Lakers or Celtics need to average 30 points because they have six to nine players that can score 16 to 20 any game.