What a time to be a basketball fan!
The Golden State Warriors are your current, reigning and defending NBA Champions of the world! Led by Stephen Curry, the current Most Valuable Player, the Warriors are 50-5 on pace to make history.
They have an invaluable cast of characters on their team. Klay Thompson is his wingman, and Draymond Green is a triple-double machine. Their veterans are no slouches either, with the talents of Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Andrew Bogut and Harrison Barnes.
They could’ve imploded thanks to coach Steve Kerr’s rehab over his back surgery and with Luke Walton at the helm. But they didn’t.
Now, the Warriors are chasing the Chicago Bulls. They could become the winningest team in the NBA. All they need to do is shatter the 1995-96 Bulls’ record of 72-10.
It’s really the best time to do so. The Warriors are indeed a once-in-a-lifetime team that changes the atmosphere of the game.
Now comes the big question: how would they stack up against the Chicago Bulls?
It’s more than just stats. Curry and Green are putting up unfathomable numbers for any era. However, it’s more than just a numbers game.
The 1995-96 Bulls fought in a more physical era. Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen led the charge under Phil Jackson’s command.
Their supporting cast were no pushovers, either. Dennis Rodman, Ron Harper and Kerr were all integral to the Bulls’ success that year.
How would the Bulls and Warriors match up if they played each other today? We’ve gone briefly with the eras. Now, let’s enter the mindset.
The Bulls of that era featured a hungry Bulls team seeking their fourth title. It was the first full season for Jordan since his return and the first season with Rodman as a Chicago Bull.
The Warriors are hungry to repeat as champions, trying to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke. Why else do you think the Warriors play with the passion that they do?
The matchups would be simple regarding their top two All-Stars, with Jordan vs. Curry and Pippen vs. Thompson. Green would be a little more complicated for the Bulls. A combination of Rodman, Luc Longley and Bill Wennington would most likely guard Green in matchups.
Now comes the coaching. The Zen Master in Jackson had Kerr and Walton under his wing with the Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, respectively. The knowledge and observations passed on to both men could play a factor. Jackson could have shown both everything…almost everything.
Also consider Kerr’s tenure with Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs. Kerr had to have studied under both to get a plethora of knowledge and strategy.
In the end, this matchup would provide a different answer for different situations.
The problem with the Bulls was that they needed to be pushed. Even Jordan needed an enemy back when they played the Detroit Pistons of the late 1980s and early 90s.
The Warriors would defeat the Bulls if it was only decided by one game. Pick a game for one night, and the Warriors would be victorious.
However, the Warriors haven’t had that test yet. They test themselves, but no one has pushed the tempo yet. In other words, the Warriors are naturally that good without extra motivation.
Their other weakness is the difference in errors. The 1990s featured more physical and intense times in the NBA. No one was a pushover.
If this went to seven games, the Bulls would take the series. They have the endurance, veteran leadership and attitude to carry themselves over the hump. Frankly, this series would go to seven games.
It’s a shame we’ll never know which team is truly better. Just be glad in our lifetime that greatness does come more than once in a lifetime.
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