One of the biggest takes from ‘The Last Dance’ came from Reggie Miller. He claimed that the Indiana Pacers had a better team than the Chicago Bulls in the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals.
However, he did acknowledge that they lacked Championship experience and DNA and that’s what eventually turned the table in favor of the savvy, veteran Bulls team, who overcame a late-game deficit to take the series in 7 games.
And, according to Northwestern University’s director of Sports Journalism J.A Adande, that argument isn’t that far-fetched at all, and the same could be said about the 2002 Sacramento Kings, who were a better team than the Los Angeles Lakers, at least in the paper:
“I don’t think Reggie’s wrong for saying the Pacers were the better team that year. The Sacramento Kings were definitely better than the Lakers in 2002. But like Reggie said, championship DNA,” Adande said.
Well, for starters, the 1997-98 Indiana Pacers had a stacked team. They featured Mark Jackson, Jalen Rose, Antonio Davis, Dale Davis, Chris Mullin, Reggie Miller, and Rik Smits.
The Bulls were also quite a decent team with Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Ron Harper, Toni Kukoc, and Steve Kerr, but most of their stars were already worn out after over a decade in the league.
The same goes for the 2002 Sacramento Kings. They had Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic, Mike Bibby, Doug Christie, Vlade Divac, Hedo Turkoglu, and Scott Pollard.
The Lakers, on the other hand, Derek Fisher, Rick Fox, Robert Horry, Brian Shaw, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kobe Bryant. I guess that when you have historically great talents with a true winning mentality, sometimes the rest figures out itself.