1995-96 Chicago Bulls or the 2016-17 Golden State Warriors?
With the Golden State Warriors up 2-0 over Cleveland in the NBA Finals, an impressive record of 14-0 in the post season, and a chance of becoming the first team in NBA history of going undefeated in the playoffs, a recent debate has surface that involves this squad and the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. This is certainly a relevant debate that warrants quite a discussion because let’s face it, this Golden State team seems to be on their way to a modern dynasty.
Let me begin by saying that as of now the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls is the greatest in NBA history, hands down. There may be numerous arguments about the statement that I just made, but all that needs to be mentioned is, 72-10, NBA champions, hence solidifying my concrete opinion. If the Golden State Warriors go on to sweep the Cavs and go 16-0 in the post season, then many may argue that this team is the best ever. We will have to see if that actually occurs, which brings up the curious question, which team would win if the 1995-96 Bulls and these Warriors would have met in the Finals?
Without a doubt Jordan and Pippen were one of the top duos in NBA history, however, Golden State has Kevin Durant and Steph Curry, which is just as good as, if not a better tandem. The Bulls would definitely have the edge on the boards as Dennis Rodman was the greatest rebounder in NBA history, and could have scored 20 or more points per game had he not solely focused on that aspect of his game. In terms of perimeter shooting, the edge would have to go to the Bulls with Steve Kerr and his tremendous range from downtown, along with Ron Harper and the 1995-96 Sixth Man winner Toni Kukoc.
In terms of defense, the Bulls would have been given the edge in that category as Jordan was on the NBA defensive first team 9 times and Pippen 8. Many argue that Pippen was the best perimeter defender in NBA history. As for potential matchups, MJ would have guarded Klay Thompson, Harper against Curry, Pippen on Durant, and Rodman vs. Draymond Green.
The question of which team would win in the Finals is a challenging one, but I believe the Bulls would had prevailed. Let’s consider that they had the GOAT in Jordan, two of the greatest defenders in NBA history in MJ and Pippen, the best rebounder in Rodman, and I would have also taken Phil Jackson’s wisdom as their head coach any day of the week. Not to mention that Jordan, Pippen and Rodman are all Hall of Famers. I understand that this is truly a difficult argument to make because let’s face it, comparing different eras is extremely challenging to say the least. When it comes down to it though, I’d put my money on the 1995-96 Bulls over just about any team from any era, as they were that great.
Keep in mind that defensive rules are different now than they were 20 years ago or so, as the league is all about scoring today, and many say that the Warriors could not play with hand checking. Bottom line is that it would be hard to bet against the Bulls, as they had the greatest player of all time in Jordan, who could single highhandedly dictate the momentum of any series.