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Sporting News calls ’96 Bulls best team ever, hard to argue

Jun 16, 2011, 5:11 PM EDT

Michael Jordan dunk

Just another reminder that Michael Jordan still runs the show.

The Sporting News has named its top 10 NBA teams off all time and they named the 1995-96 Bulls — Michael Jordan’s 72 win team with Scottie Pippen, Toni Kukoc, and Phil Jackson as coach — got the top spot.

Um, pretty hard to argue with that. Good defense (Dennis Rodman with Pippen and Jordan), outside shooting (Steve Kerr), solid play inside from Luc Longley. And they won 72 games and a ring. Top that.

The rest of the list is: the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers (Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain); 3. 1986-87 Los Angeles Lakers (Magic Johnson’s showtime Lakers at their peak); 4. 1985-86 Boston Celtics (Larry Bird’s Celtics at their best); 5. 1964-65 Boston Celtics (the peak of the Bill Russell Celtics); 6. 1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers (another team led by Wilt Chamberlain but this one had very balanced scoring around him); 7. 1982-83 Philadelphia 76ers (Dr. J. and Moses Malone on one team); 8. 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at his peak playing with Oscar Robertson); 9. 1991-92 Chicago Bulls (more Jordan); 10. 1988-89 Detroit Pistons (best of the Bad Boy Pistons teams).

Not a bad list at all. You could argue for teams like the 1970 Willis Reed Knicks that won 60 games and a ring, or maybe more Jordan’s Bulls teams or Magic’s Lakers teams if you want, but the list is solid.

And you better not argue the top spot.

  1. randysavage4ever - Jun 16, 2011 at 5:38 PM

    I’ll put that team against any NBA team past, current, & future , and bet my life on it…

    Not living in Chicago but a HUGE MJ fan, I got to watch all the games on the cable channel WGN…

    It was almost spoiling, you just expected them to win & they delivered…

    greatest team of all time in all of professional sports globally…

    they had MJ in his prime, Phil Jackson as coach, and the rest of the team with CLEARLY DEFINED ROLES that all maximized their talent – Scottie, Dennis, JUD BUCHELOR (ha love that man), etc..Toni, Ron Harper, Bill Weddington!, LUC LONGLEY… these names bring back memories…

    BUT KUDOS to Sporting News – they absolutely right, hands down, if you know basketball and watched that team play, your were lucky, because these generation of kids dont have that privilege…

    • 00maltliquor - Jun 17, 2011 at 3:15 AM

      *Bill Wennington

      • randysavage4ever - Jun 17, 2011 at 2:46 PM

        haha thanks – i had a feeling i mispelled his name – I just remember when the bearded white guy would come off the bench … crucial beard, love it.

  2. habibthomas - Jun 16, 2011 at 6:03 PM

    i agree Randy, and i dont think there will be another NBA team that will win 72 games or break their record. Everyone on that Bulls team knew their role and stuck to it, nowadays the players on these teams cant stick to their roles …. everyone wants to shoot and everyone thinks they are this great three point shooter when most of these guys arent even close.

  3. starks3 - Jun 16, 2011 at 6:15 PM

    If the 04 lakers would have won with Malone and Payton they would have been on that list. Too bad kobe and shaq couldnt get along

  4. philtration - Jun 16, 2011 at 6:56 PM

    A lot of people have forgotten that the Bulls followed up the 72-10 season by going 69–13 the next year and winning another title.
    That was pretty much the same exact team that was voted as the best ever so how does the 97 team not rate anywhere else in the top 10?

    • philtration - Jun 16, 2011 at 10:01 PM

      Oops.
      I guess that the 97 Bulls did not really go 69-13 and win the title or else the people that voted thumbs down on that comment are just clueless when it comes to basketball.

      Which is it?

  5. barkley4life - Jun 16, 2011 at 7:22 PM

    I could’ve sworn that someone on here said Scottie Pippen wasn’t even a Top 50 player…Jordan had a team of role players as best ever…lol yes Phil I am talking to you.

    That was the year every part of Jordans game was at best in the game level. The baseline turnaround was devastating, mid range game devastating. That baseline fadeaway jumper was the unstoppable sky hook of the 90’s….

    I hated the Bulls but I loved to watch them play.

    • philtration - Jun 16, 2011 at 9:59 PM

      Then you are wrong once again because I never said any such thing.
      I was the one that agreed with you that Pippen was a great player.

      if you are going to call someone out by name then at least go back to make sure you are commenting the right person.

    • andrejohnsonforpresident - Jun 16, 2011 at 11:22 PM

      That was me and I tried to say he was a top 20 player in the league. Not at his position but in the league at the time. You took it the wrong way and then when I tried to explain it again you took it the wrong way.. again…

  6. mytthor - Jun 16, 2011 at 7:45 PM

    I agree with this; but in a head to head matchup, I think the showtime lakers match up really well with this the 96 bulls. They have a ton of long athletic wings to throw at jordan and pippen, a center to take advantage of the Bulls weakness, and the Bulls don’t have a quick PG to take advantage of Magic defensively (jesus, could the Lakers EVER cover quick pg’s?). Pippen on younger Magic – Pippen got the advantage in the 1991 finals but that Magic was a little slower. Plus without Kareem they were able to focus on Magic a lot. I think that series goes 7 games.

    One little mentioned secret of the Bulls championships was how they never really faced a team that could expose their weaknesses. All through the 90’s there were 3 sure-fire hall of fame centers and the Bulls barely faced them. They were 1-1 against Shaq and the Magic, even though people like to pretend that the ’95 season didn’t count. 1-3 against the Isiah Pistons, only winning as Isiah got older. Never faced Olajuwon, Robinson. Bottom line is the Bulls defensively were AWESOME at the 2-3-4 and mediocre at the 1 and 5, and never really had that tested. KJ is the closest they got to playing a quick elite PG. There just weren’t many at the time.

    • cosanostra71 - Jun 16, 2011 at 9:28 PM

      Stockton wasn’t an elite PG? Granted he was advanced age-wise, but he was an amazing player still. And KJ was an elite PG when those Suns made the Finals in my book.

      • cosanostra71 - Jun 16, 2011 at 9:29 PM

        Also Gary Payton- arguably a top 3 PG of all time. Also one of the quickest, most athletic PGs of all time with all-time elite size and strength.

        And don’t forget about Ervin “Not Magic” Johnson!

      • randysavage4ever - Jun 16, 2011 at 11:40 PM

        If you look up point guard in the dictionary there should be a picture of John Stockton.

        Absolutely flawless in fundamentals of playing the point guard position.

        If you saw John Stockton walking down the street, you would never expect him to be banging with the big boys in the NBA & dominating…

        John Stockton was also on the ORIGINAL DREAM TEAM,

        Stockton’s passing and basketball IQ were CRUCIAL.

      • mytthor - Jun 17, 2011 at 12:15 AM

        Of course those guys were elite but they weren’t quick penetrators. Payton was more of a post up guy, Magic was too, and an open floor guard. And yes, my wording did suggest more than I meant to that KJ wasn’t elite.

        The Suns series was really close, too. MJ went absolutely nuts averaging 41 a game, and KJ and Barkley weren’t as consistent as they needed to be.

        My point wasn’t that the Bulls would automatically lose to any team with a good PG and C, just that I would have liked to see a Houston – Chicago finals instead of those two finals against the Jazz when every true west powerhouse had one problem or another and the same Jazz team that kept failing to make it all of a sudden was good enough.

    • passerby23 - Jun 17, 2011 at 1:45 AM

      I think the Bulls proved they were good against elite centers by knocking out the Knicks on more than one occasion when Patrick Ewing was at his peak. Robinson’s Spurs couldn’t get to the Finals until Duncan arrived. Olajuwon’s Rockets were a middle-of-the-pack playoff team until they turned it on in the playoffs. The Bulls would’ve handled them.

      The ’96 Bulls swept the Magic that year rather handily. I don’t dismiss ’95, but when Jordan got a full season under his belt, they looked pretty damn dominant. The Bulls also faced an elite PG that year in Gary Payton. The Bulls were equipped to beat anyone.

  7. eagles512 - Jun 16, 2011 at 8:03 PM

    83 Sixers should be higher than 7. Moses, Doctor, Cheeks, Toney, even Bobby Jones off the bench.

  8. cosanostra71 - Jun 16, 2011 at 9:26 PM

    The 87 Lakers and 86 Celtics are two teams that I think could be offended by this decision. The 96 Bulls were an outstanding team as well. It would be interesting to see those teams play though- the more up-tempo style of the 80s teams against the triangle Bulls. I would pay a lot of money to see those games.

    • cosanostra71 - Jun 16, 2011 at 9:30 PM

      As a Lakers fan it pains me to say this, but I’ve always thought that the 86 Celtics might be the best team of all time.

      • philtration - Jun 16, 2011 at 10:03 PM

        Then does that mean that Bird is really overrated like some are trying to make Pippen out to be?

    • randysavage4ever - Jun 16, 2011 at 11:45 PM

      yeah but neither of those teams had Michael Jordan in his prime.

      He is the ultimate difference maker. The greatest player of all time in his prime will win you any game…

      I got Bird and Magic coming in at 2 & 3 for greatest of all time…

      • mytthor - Jun 17, 2011 at 12:20 AM

        Those Celts and Lakers teams went a lot deeper than that Bulls squad. Players like Jud Buechler wouldn’t have sniffed the court for them. Having the greatest player of all time in his prime isn’t a guaranteed win if the other team has the 2nd or 3rd greatest of all time, plus a better supporting cast. The 86 Celtics had Bill Walton, one of the best centers of all time, coming off the bench. Love to see Pippen cover Bird in HIS prime though.

  9. savocabol1 - Jun 16, 2011 at 9:35 PM

    Almost everyone of these teams predates the start of my sports fandom, but did all of these teams win championships? In my opinion, a team should not be called one of the best ever if they did not win it all. No matter how good they are, if they didn’t win the championship then there was at least one better team then them.

  10. harsh22 - Jun 16, 2011 at 11:23 PM

    Gary Payton, no way possible he is top 3 all time. I have a hard time putting him top 15

  11. harsh22 - Jun 16, 2011 at 11:35 PM

    Gary Payton is not even top 15

  12. randysavage4ever - Jun 16, 2011 at 11:43 PM

    Everyone seems to be concentrated on who the Bulls played in the Finals, but its also the road they took to get there…

    going thru Ewings STACKED Knicks teams, Reggies Pacers, ZO’s Heat, etc…

    the Eastern Conference was LOADED back in the day… Just getting outta there was impressive, then winning 6 rings during the glory years – come on now…

    • philtration - Jun 17, 2011 at 12:22 AM

      True.
      The Knicks could have won a couple of rings if not for the Bulls.

      • randysavage4ever - Jun 17, 2011 at 2:51 PM

        nothing better then Knicks – Bulls in playoffs at the Garden – on the biggest stage in NYC Jordan shined the brightest…

        gotta love it.

  13. diablito0402 - Jun 17, 2011 at 12:19 AM

    Yall crazy man my miami heat team of 2011 could easily mop the flor with that 96 bulls team, lebron would lock down jordan and wade will bring us home with a victory.

    • philtration - Jun 17, 2011 at 12:25 AM

      So the Heat would have mopped the floor with the 96 Bulls yet they could not beat the Mavs this year?

      I am going to go out on a limb and vote for your comment the dumbest one of 2011.
      Congratulations.
      You are now an honorary Kardashian.

    • pike573 - Jun 17, 2011 at 6:39 AM

      i guess sarcasm doesn’t fly around here…

    • savocabol1 - Jun 17, 2011 at 8:00 AM

      I have to imagine this guy is joking……or smoking crack

  14. crnvic847 - Jun 17, 2011 at 3:18 AM

    Diablito: yeah how did your 2010-2011 heat do against a #3 seed in the finals? As long as LeChock is part of your team you can pretty much count the heat out. LeBron is to the Heat as Bartman is to the Cubs.

  15. crnvic847 - Jun 17, 2011 at 3:22 AM

    *LeChoke

  16. diablito0402 - Jun 17, 2011 at 6:38 AM

    Hahaha good stuff people just having fun, i hate the heat, no aegument here, jordan the best ever and forever, 96 and 97 bulls team best ever.

  17. diablito0402 - Jun 17, 2011 at 10:10 AM

    @pike
    Hahaha no sarcasm on this blog,,, everyone knows ive been hard on lechoke, but now back to the best of all time, JORDAN could not or never be denied once he got on the court, so no arguement here, never bet against jordan.

  18. huegtoad - Jun 17, 2011 at 10:41 AM

    if this list is mainly for reg season preformance and the qualifer is that they won the title, i agree, but if this list includes overall playoff preformance, i disagree, the 90-91 team was the best PLAYOFF team i have ever seen. the way they defended, attacked, they went 15-2 with one of those losses being an in and out by jordan away from not happening. the other loss was a rare hickup in philly. but that team EMBARRASED the knicks, beat philly 4-1 HUMILIATED the pistons and again came within an in and out(DESPITE playing poorly) of sweeping the lakers, with 3 of the four wins being very descisive. the 91-92 team won 67 games, but their playoff preformance was shakey, so i put the 96-97(69 wins) team ahead of them as well

  19. diablito0402 - Jun 17, 2011 at 11:10 AM

    What about kobes and shaqs lakers of 01 i think when they went 15-1 in the playoffs only loosing game one of the finals against the sixers. Very dominant.

    • huegtoad - Jun 17, 2011 at 12:37 PM

      touche` nicely put didn’t watch them as closely as the bulls as i lived in chicago, but 15-1, very dominant indeed

    • randysavage4ever - Jun 17, 2011 at 2:50 PM

      that was a great team too… I just dont know how to pick 1 of the Laker Shaq Kobe tandems over another…

      all 3 Shaq-Kobe rings were crucial- the Pacers series was classic, the 6ers series was dominant, and the nets series was masterful in sweep

  20. lucky5934 - Jun 17, 2011 at 3:11 PM

    Yes Diablito, the Lakers of 2001 made a great playoff run. Best ever even in regards to record. However, their 56-26 regular season record will continue to hold them back.

  21. jollyjoker2 - Jun 17, 2011 at 8:04 PM

    Luke longley on the bulls isn’t what you would call a good center. I would take the celtics then the lakers and then the bulls. Parish, bird, mchale, johnson, and ainge would be tough to beat. I also like the lakers though with johnson, worthy, scott, lew al cinder. It could go either way. Sometimes, LA would be better. Jordon would still score 40 but I think the rest of the team would be shut out. All these teams have good game closers.

  22. diablito0402 - Jun 18, 2011 at 1:32 AM

    @ lucky
    I agree the only knock on the 01 lakers is their regular season record

  23. 1historian - Jun 20, 2011 at 8:46 PM

    2 of the top 10 are Bulls teams put together by Jerry Krause. Except for MJ Krause got every single one of the players and coaches on all 6 title winning teams between 1991 and 1998 because he realized that when you have a player as good as MJ you build around him – get the players he needs to compliment him.

    Not bad.

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