When you think of the greatest teams in history, you have to think about the Los Angeles Lakers and the Chicago Bulls. What if the two teams followed the trend of creating superteams? The histories of the two teams alone have enough star power to go against any physical specimen in the world. With that said, what if two more legacy teams joined together as well?
If the Warriors teamed up with the Lakers, would it be game over? After all, the Lakers have at least three players in team history that could stand on a basketball Mt. Rushmore. The Warriors may have just one player to contribute, but he is potentially the greatest shooter of all time.
What about another great legacy team in the Bulls? Imagine a world where the Bulls and Rockets formed a team. The Bulls featured the youngest MVP in league history and potentially the greatest player of all time. On top of that, the Rockets had the second-greatest player during the Michael Jordan era, as well as one of the most natural scorers we have ever seen. In a game of 5-on-5 that goes to a seven-game series, who would come out on top?
Point Guard: Stephen Curry vs. Derrick Rose
Curry would make it difficult for Rose defensively. Curry can sometimes have unbelievable ball handling which can create offense at any given time on the floor. He also has a deep range of shot-making ability. If Rose is not careful, Curry would pull up from deep. We know he can make it as he inches in on becoming the all-time leader in three-point field goals in NBA history.
We are assuming that is the healthy version of Derrick Rose. The one that went on to win the MVP award at 22 years of age. At the time, Rose was a high-flying athlete that could dribble, dunk, and slash. The hang time on his jumps made you think back to a time of another great athlete in Bulls history in Michael Jordan. In a seven-game series, Rose would make it tough for Curry to guard him one-on-one because of his ability to blow by opponents.
Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant vs. Michael Jordan
Imagine both players in their prime. This is the greatest matchup in NBA history. On one side, you have the greatest to ever play the game. Bryant would give Jordan a run for his money because Bryant was one of the better two-way guards in the league. He is the closest version to Jordan that we have, and may ever see. Bryant could connect anywhere on the floor. After all, there is a reason that the new generation yelled “Kobe” when they shot a paper ball into the trash can.
Jordan holds 10 scoring titles. He was the cornerstone of the Bulls franchise that won six championships, including two three-peats. Jordan was strong, quick, and incredibly difficult to guard. Gary Payton, one of the greatest defenders in league history, had a tough time guarding him.
Small Forward: Magic Johnson vs. Tracy McGrady
Because of the smaller lineup that the team would employ, Magic Johnson would be moved to the small forward position. This allows Curry to play more off the ball and keep the Lakers-Warriors team dangerous from deep. There are times that LeBron can play point guard, which could open up more opportunities for both guards. After all, his 11.1 assists per game career average is an NBA record, so he is more than qualified to switch responsibilities from time to time.
There was a stretch in time that Tracy McGrady was doing what James Harden did before he was ever in the league. Harden was snubbed from this team because of the backcourt previously mentioned, but McGrady was just as good of a scorer back in the day. McGrady won the scoring title in 2003 and 2004, which included once averaging 32.1 points per game. McGrady was such a natural athlete that he would be the main beneficiary of playing alongside Rose and Jordan because he would always be open.
Power Forward: LeBron James vs. Scottie Pippen
This would be a tough defensive battle for Pippen. We often forget that Pippen was a 10-time All-Defensive Team winner, which included making it eight times on the First Team. LeBron would have an equally tough assignment. Pippen was no slouch on offense as he could give about 20 points and come down with eight rebounds each night. LeBron is so talented that he could find a way to get his points. LeBron is also bigger than Pippen by about 25 pounds. Pippen was listed at 6-foot-8 and 225 pounds, while LeBron is listed at 6-foot-9 and 250 pounds.
Pippen would be charged with the task of having to guard LeBron James. Pippen’s offense would likely take a hit, but if he can contain the second-greatest player ever, it would be an even tradeoff. Pippen could score, rebound, pass, and defend, so this would be a truly intense matchup to keep an eye on.
Center: Shaquille O’Neal vs. Hakeem Olajuwon
The real question is could Olajuwon contain Shaq by himself? Shaq is listed at 7-foot-1 and 325 pounds. The estimated 70-pound difference between the two players gives Shaq the advantage. Shaq was so dominant in the paint that he is the last center to ever lead the league in scoring. The last time a center led the league in scoring was 1999-2000, which featured an era of dominant centers.
This would be a dogfight in the paint. Outside of Jordan, there is a good case that Hakeem Olajuwon was the second-greatest player during the 90s. When Jordan retired, as well as his comeback in 1995, the Rockets were the best team in the league. Olajuwon won the Finals MVP in 1994 and 1995 on route to leading the team to championships. Listed at 7-feet-0 and 255 pounds, was a great double-teaming agile defender that led the blocks three times, including 4.6 blocks per game once in 1990.
Team Lakers-Warriors Advantages
Outside of having the best shooters in NBA history, the Lakers have the best point guard in NBA history. Just because Johnson was moved to the small forward position, it’s not going to mean that Johnson won’t run the offense. Because Johnson is such a masterful magician when it comes to running the show, it could mean that Curry will find a way to get open after all. If not Curry, Johnson will find a way to get either Bryant or LeBron going because that is what he does.
The size advantage can’t go unnoticed either. LeBron and Shaq have a size advantage over Pippen and Olajuwon. Both are Hall of Famers, so they would find a way to get the job done at times, but the paint would have to be the first place to look. LeBron would have to go back to work the post, rather than his modern-day approach. Having the size advantage would draw double teams as well, which would probably free up Bryant and Curry for outside shooting opportunities.
Team Bulls-Rockets Advantages
The backcourt advantage of Rose and Jordan would be a tough matchup to stop defensive. Given how explosive both are when they are off the dribble, it would force the Lakers-Warriors to devise a specific defensive scheme, which could take away on the offensive side. Rose would draw double-team after double-teaming when he entered the lane and the same goes for Jordan. Given how many fouls each would draw, they would get a lot of points at the free-throw line.
Another secret weapon would be McGrady’s hot shooting hand. Because Rose and Jordan are going to be keyed in on, it would leave McGrady open on the wing. If McGrady can shoot the way he normally does, it might be enough to cancel out the production of Curry. Outside of Curry, the Lakers-Warriors are not a strong three-point shooting team. If McGrady can get his hot hand going, it might be enough to get the team to a series win. A final secret weapon would be that Olajuwon knows how to beat Shaq. Back in their playing days, Olajuwon bested Shaq in the NBA Finals, so we know he is capable of doing it again.
Who Wins A Best-Of-7?
Game 1 will be a dog fight from the tip-off as both teams are going to want to have the title of best legacy. Both teams feature a lot of ego power that has been considered among the best of the best. You have the storyline of Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James, which would be enough to fill a sold-out arena. In the end, Team Bulls-Rockets would find a way to stifle the Lakers-Warriors defensively. Curry would have a very poor shooting night, while Pippen would lock down LeBron and force the team to go back to the drawing board after a 101-90 victory.
The next game would feature the Lakers-Warriors making adjustments. Instead of reverting to the modern game of an uptempo offense, the team would go much more traditional. They would utilize their size and feed Shaq and LeBron in the post. Both would bring back memories of the Twin Towers and score 35 points apiece on route to a 115-100 win. The Lakers-Warriors would also win Game 3 as they would utilize the inside-outside tandem and finally allow Curry to erupt on offense. Curry would go on to outshoot his entire team and score 40 points because you know when the Chef starts cooking, his hot hand will not cool down as the team wins 120-95.
The Lakers-Warriors would win their third game in a row with a complete team effort victory by a score of 98-91. We never got to see LeBron and Kobe fully play together, but this would be the game that greatness would take over. Shaq would contain Olajuwon to single digits in points, while LeBron and Kobe would be masterful on offense. Johnson would finish the game with 20 assists as the team would be one game away from winning the series.
Naturally, when you push a great player’s back to the wall, the best will come out of them. Jordan is not going to go out quietly, so it will be his turn to take over in Game 5. Jordan would score 50 points and remind everyone that he is the greatest player of all time in a close 98-87 win. Olajuwon would come up with a triple-double with blocks as the two stars of the 1986 draft come alive. In Game 6, Rose, Jordan, and McGrady would each score 30 points. McGrady, who had been quiet most of the series, would be the difference-maker in a complete blowout. Thanks to McGrady’s outpour, the Bulls-Rockets win 135-90, making the team believe they can pull off the upset.
In the end, despite his Airness, Jordan would lose his first-ever Finals, if you want to call it that. The Lakers would regroup and we would see vintage Kobe take over. It would feel like the passing of the torch given the two’s relationship. Bryant would lead all scorers with 35 points. LeBron would have a triple-double, while Johnson would have a double-double with points and assists. Shaq and Olajuwon would go toe-to-toe, but thanks to an additional 25 points from Curry, the Lakers-Warriors won the game 100-91. The Lakers had too much size, more compatible players, and the best shooter on the same team, which led to their series championship.
Final Result: Team Lakers-Warriors vs. Bulls-Rockets 4-3
Finals MVP: LeBron James