Regardless of what team you root for, there’s no denying that the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers are two of the best franchises in NBA history, not only because of how many championships they’ve won but also because of the players they’ve had.
There’s no denying that these teams have featured some of the best to ever do it, and it would be really great to see them go head-to-head and determine which is the best NBA franchise once and for all.
The debate recently started up again after LeBron James posted a picture of himself next to some of the best Lakers’ players in history, a team that looks poised for Championship contention in any different era.
So, with this in mind, and just for the sake of argument, we’re going to break down this story and put an end to the debate, predicting who’d win if the Lakers All-Time squad were to face off against the Bulls All-Time team.
Lakers All-Time Team
Point Guard: Magic Johnson
We’ve never seen a point guard as good as Magic Johnson. He could guard and play all five positions, was a great scorer in the post, and there was no stopping him in the fast-break once he got the ball on his hands.
Johnson still holds the record for the highest assists-per game average (11.2) and averaged double-digit assists in 9 straight seasons. Also, he shot the ball efficiently and was a great defender in passing lanes.
Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant is the ultimate Laker. He stayed there for his entire career, led two different eras to the NBA Finals, and even has both of his number 8 and number 24 jerseys hanging high in the rafters of the Staples Center.
Bryant won 5 NBA Championships and established a legacy for the Lakers organization: either you work harder than everyone else, or you’re just not good enough to play for the team.
Small Forward: LeBron James
We all agree that LeBron James hasn’t been around for long with the Lakers, so including him may seem a bit too early. Still, he’s already the best small forward to ever wear their jersey if we take a look at his career.
James can do everything at a high rate. He’s an efficient scorer, a strong, physical post player, and a top-notch playmaker as well. He’s not the defender he used to be anymore but is still capable of locking down a team’s best scorer in the playoffs.
Power Forward: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar made it to the Lakers to carry Wilt Chamberlain’s torch, but he ended up being twice or three times as good for their organization, and we don’t seem to talk about him enough nowadays.
There was no way of stopping Kareem in the paint. He was an example of durability and discipline, leading the Lakers to 5 Championships in 14 seasons. Also, he’s the All-Time leading scorer in the league with 38,387 points.
Center: Shaquille O’Neal
It’s a shame the Shaquille O’Neal tenure with the Lakers had to come to an end as a result of his feud with Kobe.
Still, Shaq is the most dominant big man ever. He was so strong, defenders actually got hurt while trying to foul him. He was an underrated passer, a lockdown defender in the post, and a deadly scorer as well -- as he showed by leading the Lakers to 3 Championships.
Bulls All-Time Team
Point Guard: Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose’s career has to be one of the biggest ‘what if’s in NBA history. If he hadn’t gotten hurt so many times, there would be a good chance the Bulls would have won multiple titles for more reasons than one.
Rose took the league for assault right out of the gate and even took 1 MVP away from LeBron James in his prime. He was the youngest Rookie of the Year award winner ever, and hopefully, he’ll get a shot at a Championship before retiring.
Shooting Guard: Michael Jordan
There’s not much you can say about Michael Jordan that hasn’t been said before. He dominated every aspect of the game, won 10 scoring titles, holds the record for the highest point per game average, and never lost in the Finals.
Jordan made the game global and is arguably the most influential player ever. Kobe Bryant and LeBron James molded his game to him, they all wanted to be him, but there will only be one Michael Jordan.
Small Forward: Scottie Pippen
Every Batman needs a Robin, but Scottie Pippen wasn’t just an average sidekick. Before LeBron James entered the league, he was a part of the conversation of the greatest small forward ever.
Pippen was one of the best defenders this game has ever seen, but he also had quite a polished offensive game as well, which is something people don’t seem to credit him for. He could shoot the three, create for others, finish below the rim.
Power Forward: Dennis Rodman
The Bulls already had a great team with Jordan and Pippen, so landing Dennis Rodman was the icing on top of the cake for them. With him, they got the ultimate hustler, and one of the best 5 defenders in the history of this game.
You could outsize Rodman, but you could never work harder than him for any loose ball. He was strong, pesky, physical, and was willing to put his body on the line on every single play. He embraced his role and did whatever it took to help them win.
Center: Artis Gilmore
Long before Michael Jordan, Chicago was Artis Gilmore’s town. He was coming off his best season with the Kentucky Colonels of the ABA and was one of the biggest stars that entered the league in 1976 following the merger.
Gilmore was the owner of both sides of the glass; top-tier defender and rebounder that made his presence felt down low. He was never able to win a Championship at the Windy City, but became a huge part of the organization thanks to his durability and feel for the game.
The Los Angeles Lakers feature some of the deadliest scorers ever on their team. They have the 1st, 3rd, and 4th all-time leading scorers on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James.
The Bulls have a slight upper hand when it comes to defense, with 32 combined All-Defensive squads and 3 Defensive of the Year awards. But Kareem, Kobe, and Shaq are also some of the best ever in that regard.
Shooting isn’t any of this team’s forte. Both squads made a living out of finishing below the rim and mid-range scoring. Still, the Lakers have a slight edge in this regard with Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.
The one-on-one matchup is as close as they get. Magic has the upper hand vs. Rose thanks to his length and playmaking ability, as Rose could take him to the rim but he’d still be able to stay in front of him.
Jordan will beat Kobe one-on-one, but it wouldn’t be as lopsided as most people would think, even Jordan himself claimed that Bryant had copied most of his moves. We will give MJ the upper hand here because of his strength and defense.
The LeBron vs. Pippen matchup would be one for the ages. Scottie could guard him as good as Kawhi Leonard, perhaps even better, but it’s still LeBron James we’re talking about here. If the King can’t score, he’ll find an open man, and Pippen would certainly force him to work as a facilitator rather than a scorer.
Artis Gilmore would most likely handle Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the post. Kareem had elite foot-work and his sky-hook was virtually unblockable, but Gilmore could force him to play far from the rim with his huge frame and leaping ability.
Last, but not least, we’d find Shaquille O’Neal going at it with Dennis Rodman. Obviously, Rodman wouldn’t even think about scoring over him, but he’d do it all to prevent him from getting to the rim. Rodman is the only human being that could win position against Shaq for a defensive rebound. Also, he holds a 13-3 record vs. Shaq and is 4-0 against him in the playoffs.
This game would most likely go down to the wire. Both have similar players that would match up perfectly against each other, and it would be decided on triple-overtime, at least. Still, we can’t help to think the Lakers would end up on top, but not by a big margin.
All-Time Lakers vs. All-Time Bulls 121-117