In the NBA, we always talk about the greatest players ever, but what about the greatest teams?
Basketball is a team sport, after all, and even the greatest of players needed a supporting cast if they wanted to go far in the postseason. While we have seen a number of stellar teams in the past, it came down to two in a fan voting bracket on Yahoo Sports.
To nobody’s surprise, the final two included the 2017 Golden State Warriors and the 1996 Chicago Bulls.
The 2017 Warriors received 53 percent of the vote in a narrow win over the 1972 Los Angeles Lakers. Recent bias could have sent the Warriors breezing into the finals, but a likely combination of the vast L.A. faithful and a healthy respect for Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain kept it close. On the other side of the bracket, the 1996 Bulls trounced a loaded 1986 Boston Celtics squad, receiving three quarters of the vote. The Jordan mystique is a powerful thing.
The final poll (which had over 30,000 votes) gave the victory to the ’96 Bulls by a pretty large margin and when comparing the two, it’s easy to see why.
To the Warriors’ credit, that team owns the best playoff record in history while starting four All-Stars and two MVPs. They had both offensive and defensive firepower that had no hope of being matched that year. They had an offensive rating of 115.6 and a defensive rating of 104.0.
But the Bulls had no shortage of talent in 1996 either. With Jordan, Pippen, Kukoc, and Rodman, they weren’t an easy matchup for anyone. They had the highest total net-rating in history and set a regular-season win-loss record that went unbroken for decades. Plus, this was the year they won their fourth out of eight titles. All of this came at a time with hand-checking rules and a league that allowed for much more contact between players.
So while it’s easy to remember just how good the Warriors were, the Bulls were just a different animal. They played in a much slower, more physical era and had almost no weaknesses on the basketball court.
It seems the majority of fans agree that they deserve the nod.