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The Most Dominant Teams of All Time

Posted by Neil Paine on March 3, 2010

Who is the most dominant team in NBA history? That sounds like a straightforward enough question -- most fans would ask themselves which team "felt" the most dominant -- but if you want an objective answer, it's difficult to approach because "dominance" can be defined in a number of ways.

For instance, in his book "Dominance", Eddie Epstein wanted to answer this exact question for historical NFL teams, so he settled on a method of comparing each team's basic performance metrics (points scored/allowed & yards gained/allowed) to the league average and accounting for competitive balance by using Z-scores (standard deviations above avg.). This yielded a group of teams that you can't really argue with -- 1958 Colts, 1972 Dolphins, 1985 Bears, etc. -- but if we apply the same standard to NBA stats, we consistently end up with an interesting result at or near the top of the list:

Highest Z-Scores, WPct
Year Team W L WPct Z
2007 DAL 67 15 0.817 2.40
1984 BOS 62 20 0.756 2.24
1986 BOS 67 15 0.817 2.21
1996 CHI 72 10 0.878 2.21
1971 MIL 66 16 0.805 2.09
1976 GSW 59 23 0.720 2.09
2006 DET 64 18 0.780 2.06
1957 BOS 44 28 0.611 2.06
1956 PHW 45 27 0.625 2.04
1992 CHI 67 15 0.817 1.99
1975 BOS 60 22 0.732 1.97
1975 WSB 60 22 0.732 1.97
2000 LAL 67 15 0.817 1.97
2006 SAS 63 19 0.768 1.97
1967 PHI 68 13 0.840 1.96
1970 NYK 60 22 0.732 1.93
1947 WSC 49 11 0.817 1.93
1987 LAL 65 17 0.793 1.90
1978 POR 58 24 0.707 1.86
2007 PHO 61 21 0.744 1.84
1985 BOS 63 19 0.768 1.83
1972 LAL 69 13 0.841 1.83
1983 PHI 65 17 0.793 1.81
2008 BOS 66 16 0.805 1.81
2004 IND 61 21 0.744 1.79
1997 CHI 69 13 0.841 1.79
1986 LAL 62 20 0.756 1.78
2009 CLE 66 16 0.805 1.77
2002 SAC 61 21 0.744 1.77
1982 BOS 63 19 0.768 1.76
Highest Z-Scores, Pyth%
Year Team PF PA Pyth% Z
1976 GSW 9002 8457 0.706 2.68
1970 NYK 9427 8682 0.760 2.35
1971 MIL 9710 8705 0.822 2.19
2007 SAS 8079 7388 0.778 2.13
1986 BOS 9359 8587 0.769 2.13
1978 POR 8829 8325 0.695 2.10
1957 BOS 7599 7213 0.675 2.09
1996 CHI 8625 7621 0.850 2.08
1986 MIL 9390 8649 0.760 2.05
1975 WSB 8585 7997 0.730 2.03
1956 PHW 7424 7117 0.644 2.02
1974 MIL 8780 8121 0.749 1.99
1992 CHI 9011 8155 0.802 1.94
1984 BOS 9194 8656 0.699 1.94
2005 SAS 7888 7248 0.766 1.91
1947 WSC 4428 3836 0.882 1.87
1965 BOS 9024 8351 0.747 1.85
2004 SAS 7501 6909 0.760 1.85
2007 DAL 8201 7609 0.741 1.85
2009 CLE 8223 7491 0.787 1.83
1987 LAL 9656 8893 0.760 1.82
1980 BOS 9303 8664 0.730 1.81
2006 SAS 7837 7278 0.738 1.81
1997 CHI 8458 7572 0.825 1.80
2008 BOS 8245 7404 0.818 1.77
1999 SAS 4640 4237 0.781 1.76
1986 LAL 9618 8983 0.722 1.76
2006 DET 7941 7394 0.731 1.75
1951 MNL 5632 5264 0.720 1.75
1962 BOS 9687 8948 0.752 1.75
Highest Z-Scores, SRS
Year Team srs Z
1976 GSW 6.23 2.77
1970 NYK 8.42 2.38
1996 CHI 11.80 2.33
1986 BOS 9.06 2.24
2007 SAS 8.35 2.21
1971 MIL 11.91 2.17
1986 MIL 8.69 2.15
1957 BOS 4.79 2.10
1974 MIL 7.61 2.10
1992 CHI 10.07 2.10
1947 WSC 8.96 2.09
1978 POR 5.92 2.09
1984 BOS 6.42 2.08
1997 CHI 10.70 2.02
1956 PHW 3.82 2.02
1975 WSB 6.54 2.01
2005 SAS 7.84 1.94
2007 DAL 7.28 1.92
2007 PHO 7.27 1.92
1980 BOS 7.37 1.91
1965 BOS 7.47 1.90
2009 CLE 8.68 1.89
2003 DAL 7.91 1.88
2004 SAS 7.51 1.87
2002 SAC 7.61 1.86
1981 PHI 7.76 1.83
2000 LAL 8.41 1.83
1987 LAL 8.32 1.81
2006 SAS 6.69 1.80
1972 LAL 11.65 1.80

Nothing against the 1976 Warriors, but I'm not sure many fans or historians would rank them as one of the "most dominant" teams of all time; they lost in the Western Conference Finals that year, and their 59 regular-season wins wouldn't even be the league's top total in most years. However, 1976 wasn't like "most years" -- other than Golden State, only the Celtics (54 W) won more than 50 games, and 11 of the NBA's 18 teams were bunched between 38 and 49 wins. Competitive balance rarely gets higher than it did during '76, the final year before the merger, and it's impressive that Golden State was able to separate themselves from the fray so dramatically, at least during the regular season. In fact, had they managed to successfully defend the championship that year, we would probably be talking about them as an all-time great team. However, "dominance" typically means "commanding, controlling, or prevailing over all others", and Epstein's method mutes this attribute of great teams when it adjusts for competitive balance, because to a large degree, dominance is actually about destroying competitive balance and setting up as imbalanced a system as possible in the team's favor. In other words, it's about crushing the spirit of your opponent.

That's why I want to focus on "Dominating Wins" as an important indicator of team dominance, defining them as regulation wins of 13 or more points. Why 13? In NBA history, 13 is the standard deviation of single-game scoring margins, so any 13+ point win marks a team as at least 1 standard deviation above average for that game; plus, a 13-point MOV at the end of regulation basically signifies that the losing team went into the final 2:00 knowing it wasn't going to win the game (Win Expectancy = 0%), an important aspect of breaking the opponent's will. So which teams had Dominating Wins as the highest proportion of their overall games (including playoffs)?

Year Team G DomW Pct
1971 MIL 96 49 51.0%
1996 CHI 100 49 49.0%
1972 LAL 97 46 47.4%
1992 CHI 104 46 44.2%
1962 BOS 94 41 43.6%
1972 MIL 93 40 43.0%
1994 SEA 87 37 42.5%
1960 BOS 88 37 42.0%
1970 NYK 101 42 41.6%
1997 CHI 101 42 41.6%
1949 MNL 70 29 41.4%
2001 SAS 95 39 41.1%
1974 MIL 98 40 40.8%
1950 MNL 81 33 40.7%
1986 BOS 100 40 40.0%
1987 LAL 100 40 40.0%
1989 UTA 85 34 40.0%
2005 SAS 105 42 40.0%
1973 MIL 88 35 39.8%
1967 PHI 96 38 39.6%
1947 WSC 66 26 39.4%
1964 BOS 90 34 37.8%
2009 CLE 96 36 37.5%
1972 CHI 86 32 37.2%
1995 SEA 86 32 37.2%
1961 BOS 89 33 37.1%
1990 PHO 98 36 36.7%
2002 SAC 98 36 36.7%
1950 ROC 71 26 36.6%
1980 BOS 91 33 36.3%

At the same time, if you're a ridiculously streaky team you may also suffer more than your share of Dominating Losses, which are decidedly not the hallmark of a dominant team. So here are the teams that had the greatest differential between their DomW% and DomL%:

Year Team G DomW Pct DomL Pct Diff
1971 MIL 96 49 51.0% 2 2.1% 49.0%
1996 CHI 100 49 49.0% 2 2.0% 47.0%
1972 LAL 97 46 47.4% 7 7.2% 40.2%
1972 MIL 93 40 43.0% 3 3.2% 39.8%
1992 CHI 104 46 44.2% 5 4.8% 39.4%
1997 CHI 101 42 41.6% 3 3.0% 38.6%
1962 BOS 94 41 43.6% 5 5.3% 38.3%
1986 BOS 100 40 40.0% 2 2.0% 38.0%
1994 SEA 87 37 42.5% 5 5.7% 36.8%
1967 PHI 96 38 39.6% 4 4.2% 35.4%
1970 NYK 101 42 41.6% 7 6.9% 34.7%
2001 SAS 95 39 41.1% 7 7.4% 33.7%
2005 SAS 105 42 40.0% 7 6.7% 33.3%
1947 WSC 66 26 39.4% 4 6.1% 33.3%
1964 BOS 90 34 37.8% 4 4.4% 33.3%
2009 CLE 96 36 37.5% 4 4.2% 33.3%
1987 LAL 100 40 40.0% 7 7.0% 33.0%
1960 BOS 88 37 42.0% 8 9.1% 33.0%
1973 MIL 88 35 39.8% 6 6.8% 33.0%
1999 SAS 67 24 35.8% 2 3.0% 32.8%
1995 SEA 86 32 37.2% 4 4.7% 32.6%
2009 LAL 105 37 35.2% 3 2.9% 32.4%
1950 MNL 81 33 40.7% 7 8.6% 32.1%
1980 BOS 91 33 36.3% 4 4.4% 31.9%
1974 MIL 98 40 40.8% 9 9.2% 31.6%
2008 BOS 108 38 35.2% 4 3.7% 31.5%
1949 MNL 70 29 41.4% 7 10.0% 31.4%
1996 UTA 100 36 36.0% 5 5.0% 31.0%
1950 ROC 71 26 36.6% 4 5.6% 31.0%
1990 PHO 98 36 36.7% 6 6.1% 30.6%

Along those same lines, two more indicators of dominance would probably be the average margin of a team's wins...

Year Team G AvMOV
1971 MIL 96 17.5
1972 MIL 93 16.6
1972 CHI 86 16.1
1989 PHO 94 16.0
2008 TOR 87 15.6
2010 GSW 59 15.5
1995 SEA 86 15.2
1973 LAL 99 15.2
1962 BOS 94 15.1
1970 PHI 87 15.0
1996 CHI 100 14.9
1989 UTA 85 14.8
1986 MIL 96 14.8
1972 LAL 97 14.8
1970 NYK 101 14.8
1991 CHI 99 14.7
1985 POR 91 14.7
1996 UTA 100 14.6
1987 LAL 100 14.6
2008 UTA 94 14.5
1986 IND 82 14.5
1990 PHO 98 14.4
1972 PHO 82 14.4
1949 MNL 70 14.4
1994 SEA 87 14.3
1997 SEA 94 14.3
1974 MIL 98 14.3
1948 NYK 51 14.3
1973 MIL 88 14.2
2008 BOS 108 14.2

...And the biggest differential between that number and the average margin of their losses:

Year Team G AvMOV AvMOD Diff
1972 MIL 93 16.6 -6.7 9.9
1971 MIL 96 17.5 -9.2 8.4
1995 SEA 86 15.2 -7.4 7.8
1989 PHO 94 16.0 -8.4 7.6
1986 BOS 100 12.9 -5.7 7.2
1991 CHI 99 14.7 -7.7 7.1
1997 SEA 94 14.3 -7.3 7.0
1992 CHI 104 14.1 -7.1 7.0
2008 BOS 108 14.2 -7.2 7.0
1959 SYR 81 13.5 -6.5 7.0
1986 MIL 96 14.8 -7.8 7.0
1996 UTA 100 14.6 -7.7 7.0
1957 BOS 82 12.5 -5.7 6.7
1972 PHO 82 14.4 -7.7 6.7
1972 CHI 86 16.1 -9.4 6.6
1962 BOS 94 15.1 -8.6 6.5
1996 CHI 100 14.9 -8.4 6.5
1989 CLE 87 14.1 -7.8 6.4
1973 MIL 88 14.2 -7.9 6.3
1995 CHI 92 13.8 -7.5 6.3
1952 MNL 79 12.9 -6.7 6.3
1980 BOS 91 12.9 -6.7 6.2
1994 SEA 87 14.3 -8.1 6.2
1990 PHO 98 14.4 -8.2 6.2
1970 NYK 101 14.8 -8.6 6.2
2004 DET 105 12.1 -6.0 6.1
2008 TOR 87 15.6 -9.6 6.1
1973 LAL 99 15.2 -9.1 6.1
1993 CLE 91 13.1 -7.2 5.9
2004 SAS 92 13.4 -7.5 5.9

Finally, I think it goes without saying that to be truly dominant, a team must win the championship -- a large part of dominance is the "aura of invincibility", and I can't think of any team who retained that after being bounced from the playoffs unceremoniously (I should know, after living and dying with the 2007 Patriots). So, with all of that in mind, here are the most dominant teams in NBA/BAA history:

10. 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers

Record:		81-16
SRS:		11.65 (3rd)
DomW:		   46 (47.4%, 3rd)
DomL:		    7 (7.2%, 123rd)
WinMgn:		 14.8 (14th)
LossMgn:        -10.0 (578th)

9. 1969-70 New York Knicks

Record:		72-29
SRS:		 8.42 (16th)
DomW:		   42 (41.6%, 9th)
DomL:		    7 (6.9%, 114th)
WinMgn:		 14.8 (14th)
LossMgn:	 -8.6 (219th)

8. 1990-91 Chicago Bulls

Record:		76-23
SRS:		 8.57 (13th)
DomW:		   35 (35.4%, 36th)
DomL:		    5 (5.1%, 50th)
WinMgn:		 14.7 (16th)
LossMgn: 	 -7.7 (70th)

7. 2007-08 Boston Celtics

Record:		82-26
SRS:		 9.31 (7th)
DomW:		   38 (35.2%, 39th)
DomL:		    4 (3.7%, 16th)
WinMgn:		 14.2 (30th)
LossMgn:    	 -7.2 (36th)

6. 1996-97 Chicago Bulls

Record:		84-17
SRS:		10.70 (5th)
DomW:		   42 (41.6%, 9th)
DomL:		    3 (3.0%, 7th)
WinMgn:		 13.2 (82nd)
LossMgn:	 -7.6 (64th)

5. 1961-62 Boston Celtics

Record:		68-26
SRS:		 8.25 (20th)
DomW:		   41 (43.6%, 5th)
DomL:		    5 (5.3%, 63rd)
WinMgn:	 	 15.1 (9th)
LossMgn:	 -8.6 (212th)

4. 1991-92 Chicago Bulls

Record:		82-22
SRS:		10.07 (6th)
DomW:		   46 (44.2%, 4th)
DomL:		    5 (4.8%, 41st)
WinMgn:		 14.1 (36th)
LossMgn: 	 -7.1 (32nd)

3. 1985-86 Boston Celtics

Record:		82-18
SRS:		 9.06 (8th)
DomW:		   40 (40.0%, 15th)
DomL:		    2 (2.0%, 1st)
WinMgn:		 12.9 (114th)
LossMgn:	 -5.7 (3rd)

2. 1995-96 Chicago Bulls

Record:		87-13
SRS:		11.80 (2nd)
DomW:		   49 (49.0%, 2nd)
DomL:		    2 (2.0%, 1st)
WinMgn:	 	 14.9 (11th)
LossMgn:	 -8.4 (170th)

1. 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks

Record:		78-18
SRS:		11.91 (1st)
DomW:		   49 (51.0%, 1st)
DomL:		    2 (2.1%, 3rd)
WinMgn:		 17.5 (1st)
LossMgn:	 -9.2 (341st)

Just Missed the Cut: 1957 Celtics, 1964 Celtics, 1967 Sixers

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165 Responses to “The Most Dominant Teams of All Time”

  1. Matthew Says:

    Stat-wise it is of course a great list...

    But without putting too much emphasis on that, you should definitely include the 2000/01 Lakers somewhere in your top 10 list if not at the number 1 spot itself.

    A 23-1 end to the last 8 regular season and 16 Playoff games, including sweeping the Spurs in the WC Finals by an average winning margin of 22.5 points per game without HCA and the only defeat coming because of a 7+ day layover (and a shady call on Robert Horry, but never mind that :)). Now that was dominance. Even more impressive than the Bucks 33 regular season win streak, the Bulls 72 win season and the other "almost swept postseason" by the '83 76ers.

    Cheers.

  2. Matthew Says:

    "In my opinion" missing at the end of the last sentence of course.

  3. Neil Paine Says:

    Yeah, I'll have to break it down into playoffs-only as a sequel... Then again, while there's something to be said for pure dominance for a brief stretch, there's also a lot to be said for maintaining it for an entire season. Those Lakers are confounding because they didn't do that all year long, and it wasn't just injuries, either... They coasted. And to a certain extent, dominance is about trying as hard as possible to destroy as many people as possible for the entire season, not just its last few months.

  4. nick Says:

    Amazing that 4 of Jordan's 6 championship teams made the top 10. The two that missed didn't make it were the two years that they were going for the third straight. This is an awesome list though. Kind of surprised to see the Bucks at the top.

  5. khandor Says:

    Until there's another team that actually puts up at least 73 W's in the regular season AND then goes on to win the NBA title that same season, my vote goes to the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls.

  6. Michael Says:

    I know this isn't really the place to ask this, but I don't know where you have a place for suggestions. I was wondering if in the future there are any plans to add positions player to a players page, and maybe how many times they started at each position in a given season. I know this may be difficult since it seems only recently has the NBA been really good at tracking positions in-game, but I was just putting it out there to see if that was in the mix.

  7. Bob Says:

    How about incorporating a quality of the league factor, or something along those lines. The 95-96 Bulls, for example, played in a relatively weak era, and had the advantage of a whole bunch of expansion teams.

  8. Dwight Howard Says:

    Quality of the league shouldn't matter in a piece that's about "dominance," not about the best team ever - but while we're on the subject, the 90s was not at all a relatively weak era (the Rockets, the Jazz, the Pistons, the Magic, Spurs, Knicks, et al).

    00s (best overall talent/athleticism) > 90s (great defense/athleticism - bad boys style caught on in this decade and made it extremely difficult to score until handchecking was banned) > 80s (offensively gifted teams but less defense and physical strength) > 70s > 60s > 50s. In the early years the talent poll was extremely dilute (NBA vs ABA) and players were overall nowhere near as skilled or athletic as today's players were.

    LMFAO when fans say that Russell or Chamberlain is the greatest player ever (because of more rings or better stats). In today's league, those two would be comparable to Ben Wallace and a less defensively skilled Dwight Howard, respectively. When you take era into account, it just makes Jordan's body of work THAT much more impressive.

  9. Luke Says:

    Um, did you just compare Bill Russell to Ben Wallace? Seriously?

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/pcm_finder.cgi?request=1&sum=1&p1=russebi01&y1=1969&p2=wallabe01&y2=2010

    Not even close... Oh, and there's the Dwight Howard/Wilt Chamberlain comparison, which is also fairly ridiculous:

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/pcm_finder.cgi?request=1&sum=1&p1=chambwi01&y1=1973&p2=howardw01&y2=2010

  10. nick Says:

    I think the mid to late 90s saw some drop off in team talent, but the jordan era from 87-93 was one of the toughest eras in basketball history. if you were dominant then, you could pretty much dominate any era.

  11. nick Says:

    In addition, you could look at individual awards and stats on a team and combine them to see how the team dominated.

    Lets take a look at those 95-96 Bulls.

    Besides having posted an 87-13 overall record and the best home record in the league, having the best offense and 2nd best defense:

    Jordan on the scoring title, all star MVP, season MVP, finals MVP, was named to the all nba first team, and all nba defensive first team.

    Pippen was named to the all nba first team and all nba defensive first team

    Rodman won the rebounding title and was named to the all nba defensive first team

    Kukoc won the 6th man award

    Jackson won coach of the year

  12. Dwight Howard Says:

    Luke - do you honestly think Russell and Chamberlain would post 163.5 and 247.3 WS, respectively, in today's league?

    My tone was perhaps a little disrespectful - I don't want to undermine two clearly great players who mean a lot to the history of the game - but there's no question that their statistics (be it PPG, RPG PER, WS - in the case of Russell, championship rings)are inflated due to the relatively poor level of play in their respective eras.

    Additionally, I stand by my player comparisons. Don't knock Ben Wallace - by any credible metric, the admittedly offensively limited (just like Bill Russell was and would be even more so in today's game) Ben Wallace was nevertheless one of the best players of his era (79.2 WS from 2000-2009 - 10th among forwards and 17th overall).

  13. Brian Says:

    I saw the Bucks of the early 70's, and no other team was even giving them a good game in their championship run. They didn't repeat the next year because the Lakers put together their 69-13 year the following year. Few people remember that the Bucks might have taken the series from the Lakers had it not been for a bad break in Game 2, wherein Lucius Allen swiped the ball from Jerry West late in the game but ran into a ref who blocked him for getting possession of the ball. Otherwise the Bucks would have taken two from the Lakers in LA.

    And Matt, The Lakers are the team that won 33 straight; the Bucks had won 20 straight the year before. On the other hand, it was the Bucks who broke the Lakers 33 game win streak. I saw it on TV. Hope that clears things up.

  14. Luke Says:

    Dwight - I mean no disrespect to Ben Wallace or Dwight Howard, either. Wallace was a very solid player in his prime and Howard has the potential to be truly great if he sets his mind to it. But flip that question you just posed me. Do you really think Ben Wallace and Dwight Howard would have posted 163.5 and 247.3 WS in Russell and Chamberlain's era? I just don't see that there's any way Wallace could have carried a team the way Russell did with the Celtics through the 60's, even with all the supporting talent that was present on those teams. I think he still would have put up big numbers and won a lot of titles, but I just don't think there's any way Wallace leads that team to 11 titles and wins 5 MVPs. I have to believe the Lakers, Warriors, Nationals/Sixers, or Royals would have broken through at least a few of those years. And no, I don't think Russell would have been as successful in today's league as he was back then, but I don't think he would have been significantly worse either. There's a lot of different things that have to be taken into account though: the size of the league, rule changes, the way today's players are developed, modern training techniques, etc. I guess I have no idea how Russell would have performed in the league had he grown up with all of that. I do think he would have won multiple titles and at least a few MVP awards, though, and I think he would have put up quite a bit more than Wallace's 89.9 career WS. Personally, I think David Robinson (or MAYBE Tim Duncan) is a much better modern comparison to Russell than Ben Wallace.

    The Chamberlain/Howard comparison is much tougher to evaluate since Howard's career is just getting started. True, I don't think there's any way Chamberlain is going to average 50 PPG and 25 RPG in a season in today's league, but I also don't think there's any possible way Dwight Howard is putting up those numbers in 1962, either. And I don't think it's completely out of the question to think that Chamberlain couldn't have had a few years closer to his career averages of 30 PPG and 22 RPG in today's league. I actually think Chamberlain would have won MORE titles in today's league, even if his individual numbers would have suffered, simply because the talent is spread around more in today's league making it more likely that a team built solely around Wilt could have a better chance of getting through the playoffs. But, having said all that, I really can't think of any modern player I can reasonably compare to Wilt Chamberlain... Dwight Howard might be as good a choice as any depending on how his career plays out.

  15. Dwight Howard Says:

    Those were all pretty good points, Luke. I still feel that Bill Russell's offensive game was too limited (lack of range, .440 FG% despite supposedly - though I couldn't find any data to support this - a lower usage rate than some of his teammates) in comparison to say Robinson's despite their similarly elite defensive games.

    There's no way anyone could average 22RPG in today's league, but I looked up Wilt Chamberlain again after reading your post and realized that he was an extremely lean 7'1'' 275. That's pretty monstrous even by today's standards; I think Wilt would probably be like a significantly more mobile/athletic Andrew Bynum and imaginably a 24-12 guy.

    Also, your comment about the parity issue in the early NBA was insightful. Practically all through the 50s-60s, if you weren't on the Lakers or the Celtics you weren't winning an title.

  16. AYC Says:

    I don't think players today are any more athletic than those of the 90's (or late 80's), but they are definitely better than 70's players, and way, way better than most from the 60's and earlier. BUT, I think the impossible stats that Wilt and a handful of others put up in the 60's were the result of modern-caliber players beating up on pre-modern comp, like Ruth and Hornsby in MLB in the 20's; Wilt, Russell, West, etc would still be great today IMO, the question is "how great?" With his superior size and shooting touch, I think Wilt would be better than "Dwight's" namesake, but would he be as good as Shaq or Hakeem? I doubt it.

  17. Matthew Says:

    @Neil: fair point, I can agree with that. And they did coast, didn't they. I can't remember the last time I was so infuriated with a team that was supposed to stomp on every opponent... well, I'm getting the same feeling this year with this version of P&G. But that 24 game stretch was simply too dominant for me to let go, so I had to mention it. :)

    @Brian: yes, of course, I don't know what I was thinking. Probably of the game you wrote about (the Bucks beating the Lakers). Thanks for the correction.

    p.s.: the 1995/96 Bulls were of course incredible, but a watered down league and expansion probably also had something with that incredible season. And the fact that Phil Jackson mentioned a couple of times - Chicago, being based almost at center, had the ideal "position" for a team to win such a ridiculous amount of games. Their favourable geographical location helped them minimize the effects of travel and time zones. Of course one of the greatest players coming back hungrier and more focused than ever probably also had a lot to do with it.

  18. AYC Says:

    PS I've always assumed there was no way to rank the relative overall talent of different eras, but has anybody tried to determine this through stats? Is it possible?

    The only method I could think of is to base it on avg height and weight (maybe weighted by minutes played, but bigger doesn't necs mean better, and I think players lie about their heights more now than they used to (Russell would be listed at 6'11 today, I'm sure)

  19. steve norris Says:

    like khandor says, its the 95-96 bulls. they had teams beat before the games started. thats when i started to believe micheal jordan couldnt lose and as long as the bulls had him they wouldnt. the only time they lost it seemed like was when there where no contributions from the rest of his team. they were bad ass.

  20. AYC Says:

    PPS How did the 08 Celts make the top 10!? That team was hardly dominant when the postseason came around; was overall point differential considered? I may be wrong,but I don't remember those celts having an all-time great pt diff

  21. Neil Paine Says:

    Actually, '08 Celts had the 7th-best SRS in NBA history:

    Year Team SRS
    1971 MIL 11.913
    1996 CHI 11.799
    1972 LAL 11.652
    1972 MIL 10.699
    1997 CHI 10.697
    1992 CHI 10.068
    2008 BOS 9.307
    1986 BOS 9.058
    1986 MIL 8.690
    2009 CLE 8.680
  22. AYC Says:

    I stand corrected. Hard to think of them as dominant when they needed 7 games to beat hawks in 1st round. Still surprised the 67 Sixers and 87 Lakers (best team ever IMO) didn't make the grade...

  23. Gabe Says:

    Couple of things I wanted to mention.

    First, with regards to the Z-score based on Win%. I would think the mean number of wins for each season is 41 (assuming 82-game season). So, the Z-score for number of wins is really just based on the SD, otherwise it would be a straight reading of the number of wins.

    Second, so what if "13 is the standard deviation of single-game scoring margins, so any 13+ point win marks a team as at least 1 standard deviation above average for that game"? You seem to be trying to explain why 13 isn't just an arbitrary number. However, your choice of "1" standard deviation is equally arbitrary (or unjustified). Why not 1.l SD? Or 0.75 SD? Or 2.5 SD?

  24. Frank N Says:

    The comparision of Russell/Chamberlain to Wallace/Howard seems to me must come from someone who has not seen all four play. I could be wrong - maybe my remembrance of those ealier stars is skewed. I in fact only both players from '66 on - Russ in the last few years of his career.

    Ben Wallace was a good player. I think Howard may be one of the greats. Russ was brilliant, Wilt a monster. A freaking monster.

    To say that Chamberlain (or Russell for that matter) could not average 20 rebounds a game today seems to slide right by the fact that when Dennis Rodman was the first man in 20 years to average 18 rpg no one thought that could be done in that era either.

    Even though it was not his forte, let's not forget that Russell averaged over 15ppg and over 4 assists pg for his career. That's better than 20 ppg from this "offensively limited" player. Sure ppg isn't everything, but Wallace ended up at a cool 6 ppg and 1 apg - that's worth comparing to Mark Eaton, not to Bill Russell

    It was a different game then certainly. I would still take Chamberlain for any game and Russell for any season.

  25. James Says:

    The problem with using things like margin of victory to compare teams is that some teams empty their bench during blowouts and only end up winning by a small margin as a result. The Celtics back in the 80's for instance could be winning by 25 points or more with 5 minutes left in the game and then take out Bird, McHale, Parish, Johnson, Ainge, and Walton and then only end up winning by 10 or 12 points. I say the 1986 Celtics is the best team ever. In recent years teams leave their best players in the game right up until the end regardless of the score. I don't understand it.

  26. Luke Says:

    Dwight - you're probably right about Wilt not being able to average 22 RPG in today's league. That largely depends on the pace of the game and how many shots are put up, which would determine how many possible rebounds are available, which is something I wasn't considering earlier when I said it was possible for him to do that in today's league. I do, however, think he could definitely get 15 a game, and 18 might be pushing it, but I don't think it's inconceivable.

    Just for argument's sake, I checked out Wilt's rebounding numbers for the year he put up his highest average and his 2 championship teams ('61 Warriors, '67 Sixers, and '72 Lakers) and Wilt managed to grab 36%, 34%, and 34% of his team's total rebounds in those years. (For comparison, Dwight Howard has gotten right around 30% of the Magic's rebounds over the last three years.) Now, if Wilt was getting a third of a team's rebounds in today's game and played all 82 games, for the last three championship teams, he would've averaged 13.6, 14.0, and 14.6 rebounds per game. But, if he's snagging 36% of the Warriors rebounds in '02 or '03, he's averaging 16.8 rebounds per game.

  27. AYC Says:

    Last year the league-wide avg was 41.3 rpg, in 1961 it was 73.5 rpg. That's 78% higher; Wilt's avg of 27.2 would be reduced to 15.3; BUT Wilt also avgd over 47 min per game that year (45.8 mpg for his career); no way would a team play him that many minutes today; at 40mpg his avg would be 13.0 rpg.

  28. bastillon Says:

    "PPS How did the 08 Celts make the top 10!? That team was hardly dominant when the postseason came around; was overall point differential considered? I may be wrong,but I don't remember those celts having an all-time great pt diff"

    Celtics played against excellent playoff competition. maybe it doesn't seem so when you look at those teams in terms of W-L, but when you consider their trades, it becomes quite clear:

    in the 1st round they played the Hawks with Bibby (15-17 since his trade) who were getting better and better every game they played together and finished the season 11-7 barely getting to the playoffs. it was also their first postseason appearence in 10 years or so, and their home crowd was amazing. they never really threatened the Celtics anyway, even though 3-4 might seem like a close series. they won close games at home and lost embarassingly in the Garden.

    Cleveland, their 2nd round opponent, was also better than it would seem. they were facing various problems at the start of the season. Varejao wasn't playing because they didn't give him a contract until like ~december. they had poor guards until they made a deal for Delonte West and Pavlovic came back (contract again). once the playoffs started they were playing in almost the same line-up like the year ago, minus Mo Williams. Lebron, Ilgauskas, Delonte, Varejao, Ben Wallace were all playing. Celtics could still crush them, but only Garnett showed up for that series and Allen was playing his career-worst playoff series.

    then they were playing Billups-Rip-Prince-Dyess-Sheed Pistons in the ECFs, another extremely underrated team. IMO that was perhaps the best version of them. McDyess perfectly complimented Sheed's game and backcourt duo of Billups-Hamilton was playing as good as ever. anyway, 8.5 efficiency differential is pretty damn impressive.

    and then obviously Lakers who dominated the West and were considered as heavy favorites in the finals (all ESPN experts picked them to win). with Gasol in the line-up, they were 22-5 in the RS and lost only 3 games in the playoffs at the time (2 losses were due to Kobe's back injury IIRC).

    maybe at the time it didn't seem so, but if we look at it now, they're opps were very impressive. Atlanta 2010 and Cleveland 09 haven't really changed their rosters all that much since those playoffs and they were/are considered title contenders. Detroit were in the 6th straight ECFs, so they knew how to get it done and it seemed like they rejuvenated themselves for that last season. finally you had the heavily-favored Lakers who were playing amazingly well since Gasol's acquisition, that's a pretty tough bracket.

  29. Robert August de Meijer Says:

    Wilt blocked Kareem's sky hook. I think that says alot about how good he could be even to this day. Considering his size, athleticism and drive for perfection, I'm betting he would receive all-nba awards.
    I was kind of hoping these advanced stats would prove the '89 Pistons were more dominating than they seemed. At the time, it didn't seem possible that anything could stop them.

  30. khandor Says:

    Frank N,

    1. From my personal standpoint ...

    I'd willing to take Bill Russell on my team, as the focal point, whether the contest was for an entire career, an entire season, a single playoff series, a single game, a single possession, a single minute, a single second, or a single nanosecond, etc.

    You simply do not manage to win as consistently as this man has done throughout the course of his lifetime without also being a very, very special person, in a competitive environment of any kind.

    2. The point you raised about Dennis Rodman is completely valid.

    -------------------

    [switching tracks slightly]

    In general,

    Those who attempt to degrade the relative abilities of Bill Russell/C, as the greatest basketball player of all-time, are operating without a leg to stand upon.

    By definition ...

    Basketball is the ultimate team game, and the simple fact is that no one has ever played it any better than the great man, himself.

    Not MJ, not Wilt, not Oscar, not Magic, not Larry, not Kareem, not Shaq, not Kobe, not Lebron, etc.

    [BTW, if Bill Russell was coming of age in today's society ... with what's known about different training methods, nutrition, enhanced skill development, etc. ... it's pure comedy to read that some people believe he would not have been able to develop into a superior player than even the very best ones of the modern era.]

  31. Jason J Says:

    Khandor, I agree with all of your assessments regarding how Bill Russell should be weighted given strong historical context and consideration for what modern training could do and his general dominance over his contemporaries, but I think you're oversimplifying somewhat.

    One thing is the quality of teammates is often overstated, but it's hard to ignore completely. When you look back at those teams it's quite the luxury for a franchise player never to have to carry the offensive load. Cousy was great with and without Russell. So was Sharman. So was Hondo. When you think of the big plays in close games that consistently lifted Boston over the top, you think of Cousy dribbling out the clock, Sam Jones and Tommy Heinson hitting clutch shots, Hondo stealing the inbound pass.

    How many other GOAT candidates were able to defer to teammates to get the team clutch baskets that often? It speaks to Russ's character as a leader to be willing and able to allow his teammates to shine, but it also speaks to his good fortune to play with so many HoF caliber players.

    Not having witnessed Russell's career, all we can do is say, "Look, he won and he won and he won, and he collected an unbelievable number of rebounds (though not at a record pace like a Dennis Rodman), and we believe from heresay that he blocked a ton of shots. He was unselfish, a great leader, and considered the best defender of his day." Those of us under 50 years old don't really KNOW how he won all those rings. There's a large continuum between being Michael Jordan on 3 championship teams and being Horace Grant on 3 championship teams, and Russell may have been at one end of the other, somewhere inbetween, or as you suggest off the scale completely.

    As a New Englander, I know a lot of old Celtics fans who can recount C's history like they're talking about their own family. Without exception they choose Bird over Russell as the better player. And with a couple homer exceptions they all put MJ over Bird. Not to say popular opinion is correct, but when it is agreed upon by media "experts", players, and coaches and so many people who have witnessed all of it... it probably ought to carry some weight.

  32. Dwight Howard Says:

    Khandor - despite suggestions of personal characteristics (leadership, et al) that are speculative/can't really be measured or even onfirmed to exist, I didn't really hear you make an evidence-based argument for Russell as the best player ever besides his 11 rings. The implications of this logic are as follows:

    Robert Horry (7 rings) > MJ (6)
    Ron Harper (6) > Kobe Bryant (5)
    Steve Kerr (6) > Tim Duncan (5)

    Generally, winning is overrated. Dwyane Wade/Chris Paul were both clearly superior players (as evidenced by WS, APM, RPM, and, in my opinion, the detailed watching of games) to Kobe Bryant in 2008-2009, but they finished far behind him in MVP votes because their teams didn't win enough games. If you took all three away from their teams, Wade/Paul's teams instantly become two of the worst in league whereas Bryant's team simply becomes mediocre (Gasol is almost as valuable as Bryant, plus the Lakers have other great players in Bynum/Odom). Not to knock Kobe because he's a badass and a great player - but he's overrated because of the quality of his teammates.

  33. Dwight Howard Says:

    *confirmed

  34. Dwight Howard Says:

    Ah, sorry guys, lack of sleep, I messed up the rings tally:
    It should read

    horry 7 > MJ 6
    haper 5 > kobe 4
    kerr 5 > duncan 4

    My bad, no more posts until I take a nap

  35. khandor Says:

    Dwight Howard,

    When considering "the overall power of the ring", as an accurate measure of a basketball player's ability, it's important to compare the relative abilities of "role players" vs "role players" and "centrifugal force" players vs "centrifugal force" players.

    IMO, the effectiveness of Bill Russell's individual performance on a basketball court is unsurpassed in the history of the game, when comparing the greatest players of all-time to one another ... i.e. disregarding effective but limited role players like Robert Horry and Steve Kerr ... as he simply dominated his opponents in the most important aspects of the game, e.g. Rebounding Differential, Field Goal Percentage Differential, Shot-blocking Differential, Assist Differential, Turnover Differential, Ast:TO Differential, FTA Differential, Fast Break Points Differential, Leadership, Gamesmanship, Teamwork, Playoff Series Victories, etc., over an extended period of time.

    The man simply excelled at doing whatever was necessary to ensure that HIS team would be able to score more points in a basketball game than the opponent.

    In a game with an outcome which is measured by a team's accumulative points scored and the total number of championships garnered over the course of a career that's the ultimate barometer when it comes to evaluating an individual player's ability.

  36. Travis Says:

    Khandor, if you're going to make a stats-based argument, you need to show the stats you are referencing. Specifically, this block of text:

    "... he simply dominated his opponents in the most important aspects of the game, e.g. Rebounding Differential, Field Goal Percentage Differential, Shot-blocking Differential, Assist Differential, Turnover Differential, Ast:TO Differential, FTA Differential, Fast Break Points Differential ..."

    You've also mastered the art of using a large amount of words to describe nothing. Specifically, this block of text:

    "Leadership, Gamesmanship, Teamwork, Playoff Series Victories, etc., over an extended period of time.

    The man simply excelled at doing whatever was necessary to ensure that HIS team would be able to score more points in a basketball game than the opponent.

    In a game with an outcome which is measured by a team's accumulative points scored and the total number of championships garnered over the course of a career that's the ultimate barometer when it comes to evaluating an individual player's ability."

    You do this frequently over at Wages of Wins as well. It's annoying, and does not contribute to positive or constructive dialog in any way. Please use critical analysis, not emotional subjective opinion, for your arguments in the future.

  37. khandor Says:

    Travis,

    1. You are certainly free to look those stats up if you wish. If not, so be it. If you think they're wrong, then, simply say so. If not ...

    2. That which some have difficulty understanding they also have a tendency to try and put down, or shut up. Fortunately, I do not suffer from such a malady.

    3. What you might "think" qualifies as "critical analysis" versus what fits properly into the category of "emotional subjective opinion" happens not to be fact-based itself.

    Hopefully, that's succinct enough for your literary palate.

  38. Sean Says:

    Love the 'greatest player' contributions. You almost have to have a special category for players who caused/ contributed to RULE CHANGES, IMO. The great big men impacted rule making probably like no other group----so players like Wilt and Russell and Alcindor kinda get extra credit on their way into the discussion. Russell winning 11 titles as THE man on his teams (in 13 years) is HUGE. Wilt averaging 50+ppg in a season and forcing the league to widen the lane is stuff that other players can't claim. Alcindor pretty much being exhibit 1A as to why the NCAA banned dunking for a period is a feather in HIS cap.

    These guys are all in the conversation. I know it's hard comparing across eras---but I don't like to try to 'beam' the 1960 Wilt Chamberlain 50 years into the future and pick him apart. Look at how advanced he was living in the only world he knew. Imagine a speciman THAT advanced relative to any era. That's how I choose to look at him.

    ME, personally? I'm a Magic and Bird guy. I'm in my 40s and that was the best basketball I ever saw. I like how immediate their impact was on their teams' winning... and I like that when they left their teams while still producing at a very high level---that their teams suffered markedly. The Pre-Bird Celtics were 29-53. Add Bird with other relatively minor tweaks---you have a 61-21 team a year later.

    Magic goes to a talented 47-35 Lakers team... and in 1 year they are 60-22 and World Champs... with no Kareem in Game 6 in Philly. What did Magic do? 42 points, 15 rebounds and 7 assists jumping center.

    I don't buy into the 'Jordan is the greatest than there's everybody else' point of view. I think you could make an argument for him being the greatest---but it depends on what you like. I think debates on this topic see more disagreements on what CRITERIA should be weighted more rather than 'which player was greater at what'. I understand that a lot of people favor criteria that most of us can agree was 'Jordan's specialty'------the disagreement comes when people don't weigh his strengths heavily enough so as to push him to the top of the hill.

    For ME, I don't like that it took him 7 seasons to even get to a Finals. I am less impressed with the 'OK' improvement over 27-55 he led his 1st Bulls team to (38-44)... and I am perplexed by the Bulls success the year after he 1st retired. They were 57-25 with him and then 55-27 with Pete Myers taking his place. That's a tough one for me to digest. When Magic retired because he had HIV, the 58-24 Lakers went 43-39. When Bird missed the last 76 games of the season after going 57-25 with him... the Celtics went 42-40.

    More later.

  39. Sean Says:

    I love statistical analysis... but some stats are just a pile of crap. I think somebody developed a metric for offensive value or something like that. I'm pretty sure I read it here---and I think Steve Kerr was number 1. I apologize if I've misrepresented the metric's actual title... but if I ever 'developed' a metric that gave Steve Kerr the all time top spot------I'd probably burn the evidence and deny ever creating such a thing. Maybe it's a misnomer thing---like Range Factor is for baseball (which doesn't measure a player's range at all).

    Anyway, there was a function on this site that let you compare players head to head games. I love it! Unfortunately, the reasearchers only went back to 1987. I hope they keep going back. It's an awesome application. I looked at Bird VS Jordan head to head from 1987 thru 1992 (when Bird retired). Mind you, in 4 of the 6 years included, this was a diminished Larry Bird. From 1987 until he retired, Bird won no MVPs and was part of no championship team. Jordan, on the other hand, was coming into his prime in these years and the Bulls were on the rise as a team. This comparison was a declining Celtic team VS a rising Bulls team and a diminishing Bird VS a primed Jordan. The results of this exercise suprised me. I had always excused Jordan from comparisons with Bird earlier in Jordan's career because Bird was in HIS prime on a superior team... but when Jordan was the rising star and Bird not at HIS best, with Jordan on the rising team and Bird on the diminishing one--------------> Bird's teams still won 12 of the 21 games. And statistically, it was essentially a draw. I was shocked, frankly.

    I am certain folks have differing opinions on whether Jordan 'made his teamates better'. My observation with Magic and Bird and Jordan was that no matter how incredible an individual talent Jordan seemed---that it just didn't translate as much as you might think it would into increased winning. Definitely not as much as in the cases of Magic and particularly Bird. The analogy I come up with is what we in the bizz call a 'drug interaction'. For example, if someone is on 100mg of Drug A and takes 100mg of Drug B concurrently, the 100mg of Drug A performs like 50mg. So instead of getting 200mg of drugs like it looks like on paper-----you get the effectiveness of 150mg. Drug B 'chews up' Drug A. This is what I think happened when you added Jordan's game to the Bulls' teams' game. The Bulls were better with Jordan-----but less better than you might think they would be. We know Peter Myers was NOWHERE near as good as Jordan... but the Bulls team compensated for much of Jordan's production when he left, with Myers filling in. Doesn't seem possible, but it happened.

    Bird and Magic, to me, had the opposite 'drug interaction'.... they seemed to INCREASE the effectiveness of the teams they were on. Instead of the team acting like 100mg with them----it performed like 125mg (arbitrary numbers here). The Lakers team that went 58-24 with Magic was essentially intact when he retired. He was replaced by Sedale Threatt and they went 43-39 with the same cast around the PG. When Bird missed 76 games----the team that went 57-25 with him, with Parish, McHale, DJ and Reggie Lewis added in----went 42-40. It doesn't seem posssible that that team would go just 42-40....but it happened.

    Anyway, we all look at different criteria and weigh them differently and that is the beauty of the discussion. I just like Bird and Magic's resumes the best of all the players I got to see play when I knew what I was looking at.

  40. Neil Paine Says:

    Sean - you're thinking of Offensive Rating:

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/leaders/off_rtg_career.html

    Kerr is indeed the all-time leader. However, you need to understand what ORtg is measuring -- it's calculating the average number of points the player produced (via shooting, passing, drawing fouls, and offensive rebounding) per possession used. Since 3-pointers are the most valuable shots on a per-possession basis if you shoot a high % (Kerr was a career 45.4% 3-point shooter), and Kerr maximized his ratio of 3PA to 2PA, and he used an incredibly low rate of possessions in general, it was the perfect combination for efficiency on a per-possession basis. If you can make half of your threes and hardly take any shots but threes, you're going to create a high # of points per shot.

    HOWEVER (and I can't stress this enough), this does not mean Kerr was the "best offensive player ever" or "most valuable offensive player" or whatever you mistakenly thought that metric was measuring. Kerr was a one-dimensional player who was basically a spectator on 87% of his teams' offensive possessions, making it comparatively easy for him to put up that kind of efficiency rate. But to get a complete picture of any player's offensive ability, you also have to look at the rate of possessions he used, which tells you how big an offensive load he carried and consequently how difficult it was for him to be as efficient as he was. The average player uses 20% of team possessions when on the floor, and players who use more make it easier on their teammates by diverting defensive attention and taking tough attempts in "must-shoot" situations; conversely, players who use fewer than 20% of possessions put less pressure on the defense and make life difficult for their teammates through their unwillingness to shoot in all but the most obvious situations.

    So, looking at Kerr through this lens, we see that he was very good at playing his role, but his 13% rate of possession usage made his teammates' job harder, and we can infer that his ridiculously high offensive rating was not only the product of his own considerable shooting ability, but also the luxury of being able to choose to shoot only in the highest-percentage situations. Kerr is the most offensively efficient player of all-time in terms of when he shot, his teams scored the most on a per-possession basis, but if he had been forced to create more shots for himself, he would not have posted such an astronomical ORtg because his attempts would have become increasingly difficult with more offensive responsibility. In other words, all ORtg claims is that he's one of the best role players of all time; it makes no claim that he's the best offensive player, because ORtg only speaks to efficiency and not the size of the player's role. In order to properly judge players, you have to look at both ORtg and some measure of usage.

  41. big dave Says:

    great discussion here. its will always be matter of opinion since we dont have time machines to put these guys together AND there are like a million stats you could use and call your most important. Speaking of which, my most important factor i think would have to be based off of Defense and Rebounding consistently winning championships. every coach would want to build a team around a dominant center who controls the paint on both ends. MJ is my favorite player of all time to watch for his versatility mixed with flash but im taking Bill Russell every time. Everyone loves scoring and Kareem, Wilt, and even Shaq are better but Russell controls the boards and was the smartest defender at the position and his playoff stats back that up. I know his era didnt have as much competition as others but his mentality and impact on a game would get you to the finals in any era. One of russell's championship teams against the 96 bulls would be a classic.

  42. Sean Says:

    Neil---SUPERB job explaining 'Offensive Rating'. Thank you for being informative without being the least bit insulting (you have a gift).

    It seems to me, then, maybe 'Offensive Rating' could be a misleading name for that metric.

    JMO.

  43. Sean Says:

    Does anybody know of the keepers of this site intend on expanding their research for 'head to head' player stats prior to 1987? I would love it if they did!

  44. Romain Says:

    To Sean (#38 and 39)

    It's true that it took MJ seven years to reach the NBA Finals, but eventually why should it matter when he won 6 championships in his last 6 seasons with the Bulls? (not counting 1995 when he came back just a few months before the playoffs).

    It certainly took him longer than Magic and Bird to become a team player, but I truly believe that the level of domination he achieved during the 1990's, both offensievly and defensively, cannot be matched by Magic and Bird.

    And you just can't overlook the fact that the players surrounding him in his early years were just mediocre or not yet developped (Pippen), no matter how good or bad a teammate Jordan really was.

    I mean, could you really imagine the Pistons applying the Jordan rules (described at the time by SI as "possibly the most concentrated effort to contain one player in NBA history") against Bird or Magic? They knew it was impossible because McHale/Parish or Kareem/Worthy would have killed them. Against the Bulls they could do that because nobody was going to consistently make open shots on that team at that time.

  45. Sean Says:

    Romain, great input. Thank you. I understand that Jordan's supporting cast early on was not great. He came to a 27-55 team. But then Bird went to a 29-53 team and in 1 year (with no McHale, no Parish, no Dennis Johnson) they were 61-21. That's hard for me to overlook. Again, it depends on what you like. Jordan did so many individual basketball skills on an extremely high level. It just didn't seem to add up to increased winning like some might think it would. I'm not saying I can explain it... it just seems like they should have had a rougher time without him when he retired the 1st time. I go back to my 'drug interaction' analogy. As much as he could do---it just seemed like his team functioned better than you thought it might without him when they had to... with Pete Myers. I don't know what that ultimately says. There is a darned good argument that Michael Jordan is THE greatest basketball player, ever. He's in every single conversation. But depending on what you like----you may not have him up at the tippy top.

    The 'Jordan rules' probably worked against Michael moreso than a Bird or a Magic partly because of weapons they had----but there lies the question: would Jordan utilize Parish and McHale in a manner to bludgeon you? Robert Reid defended Larry Bird in the 1981 Finals and held him to roughly 15ppg. Excellent. I doubt he holds Jordan to 15ppg. But Bird averaged 15rpg and 7apg, too. He had many ways to beat you.

    Then there's the matter of the Celtics without Bird---but yet with Parish, McHale Dennis Johnson and Reggie Lewis to pick up the slack---going 42-20. I'm amazed at how much that group suffered without Bird. What does that say about how good THEY were... how good HE was...? It's a little baffling to me, frankly. The 58-24 Lakers stumbling to 43-39 without Magic is also a little suprising... or eye opening.

    Does it matter that it took him (Jordan) 7 years to win a title? Mmmm. Maybe. Maybe if we're trying to nail down the 'greatest ever' spot for him. Again, depends on what you like. I like the immediate impact factor. That's just me. Did his emergence into dominance coincide with the diminishing (via age/ injury/ retirement)of the established greats (when he entered the NBA)? Some would argue that---to a certain degree---YES. What does this all mean? I wish I knew. LOL. What it means to me is simply that there's a great discussion at hand and depending on what you like---it takes any number of turns.

    My opinion on this subject is just that---my opinion. It's flawed. I just go by what I've seem and read, etc. My opinion also evolves. That's why I love the discussion. I can always learn from someone else.

  46. khandor Says:

    -------------------------------------
    re: "As much as he could do---it just seemed like his team functioned better than you thought it might without him when they had to... with Pete Myers. I don't know what that ultimately says."
    -------------------------------------

    Fortunately, I do know what that says.

    There's a good reason why [the Zenmaster, Dr.] Phil Jackson is rightfully considered to be one of the greatest NBA coaches of all-time ... and, it's because the "comprehensive system" which he employed/s - and, by this I mean a whole lot more than just its X's and O's - is arguably one of the best in the history of the game, in terms of being able to create and take best advantages of the individual [and, therefore, collective] strengths of the players on his team while, simultaneously, effectively minimizing their individual [and, therefore, collective] weaknesses.

    It is no coincidence that the Bulls' and Michael Jordan's success, operating within the framework of the TEAM, occurred only once the 'good Doctor' had arrived on the scene.

    Those who attempt to minimize the effects of good, bad, mediocre and great coaching on the quality of both individual players and teams do so at the expense of accuracy.

  47. Jason J Says:

    I think there's something to what you're saying Sean, particularly in that the offensive versatility of Bird or Magic made them irreplaceable cornerstones of their teams. Jordan was asked to be that versatile player in the late 80s, but he didn't have the horses to make it past the Pistons being a do-it-all player. Jackson took Jordan away from that role and gave it to Pippen which simultaneously alleviated two problems. It forced Pippen to play to his potential, and it gave their do-it-all player a reliable top-notch scorer to lean on (that would be Jordan, freed up to move without the ball and focus on finishing plays rather than beginning them).

    As for how well the Bulls did in 1994, I think a ton of credit needs to go to Jackson, Pippen, and all the guys who busted their butts. However, it should also be noted that Jordan was not replaced by Pete Myers. He was replaced by Myers, Kukoc, and Longley. Also while they managed to win 55 games, their SRS dropped from 4th to 11th and their point differential dropped from 6 points to 3 points. So while the team only lost 2 more games, they weren't as dominant doing it. It should probably also be noted that the East was weak enough for Horace Grant, BJ Armstrong, John Starks, Charles Oakley, and Kenny Anderson to all make the All-Star game for the one and only time in their careers. That's a lot of just above average posing as exceptional.

    Some of the issues we cite again Mike are circumstance, IMO. For instance the 1984 Bulls were openly tanking, trying to lose games. They had a mish-mash of me-first players and a reputed issue with drugs. They needed pretty much all new pieces. So MJ was asked to do everything as a rookie. And he did but, like LeBron in his rookie year, it wasn't enough to be very good.

    The Celtics had a still talented Nate Archibald, a still talented Dave Cowens, and an up-and-coming Cedric Maxwell. They needed a scoring forward to help blend the talents at hand. They needed a Larry Bird. Insert one piece, ask him to play an important but not all-encompassing role, and you got a nice result.

    Anyway, I'm with you that there's no right answer for GOAT, but I think some of the arguments that spark up against MJ lean on debatable, circumspect points rather than trying to find an actual fault with his game or to point to someone who had a more complete / productive / efficient game. If you were to try to knock down Magic, you'd bring up defense. Wilt you'd bring up winning. Russ you'd bring up his godawful shooting percentages.

    But Jordan's game doesn't generally get knocked on that level, because he's one of those rare uber-efficient, uber-productive, defensively gifted, clutch winners, where there's not much to denigrate. You wind up having to question what happened when he wasn't there or whether the competition was good enough, which opens debates about the relative value of teammates. It becomes massively subjective - which the whole idea of a GOAT is anyway.

  48. Anon Says:

    To follow up on Jason's insight, I think that one other thing to remember is that '93 was an aberration for Pippen from a production standpoint (he would have otherwise enjoyed a string of seven-straight seasons with at LEAST 11 WS, which is elite production). It really speaks to how good MJ and his Bulls teams and were that they were able to win it all again in '93 with your less-than-usual stellar play (in relative terms, of course) from Pip, but when Pip picked up from where he left off in '94 it can be one of the reasons why the Bulls drop in wins when MJ retired wasn't so drastic.

  49. Sean Says:

    From Jason:

    Anyway, I'm with you that there's no right answer for GOAT, but I think some of the arguments that spark up against MJ lean on debatable, circumspect points rather than trying to find an actual fault with his game or to point to someone who had a more complete / productive / efficient game. If you were to try to knock down Magic, you'd bring up defense. Wilt you'd bring up winning. Russ you'd bring up his godawful shooting percentages.

    But Jordan's game doesn't generally get knocked on that level, because he's one of those rare uber-efficient, uber-productive, defensively gifted, clutch winners, where there's not much to denigrate. You wind up having to question what happened when he wasn't there or whether the competition was good enough, which opens debates about the relative value of teammates. It becomes massively subjective - which the whole idea of a GOAT is anyway.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    A fault in Jordan's game? If you ran down a list of basketball specific skills and basketball related talents... maybe Jordan scores higher than anyone. And if THAT is somebody's criteria for GOAT----then somebody's got themselves a winner, IMO.

    But like I said... it depends on what you like. It depends on what you weigh more heavily. Jordan's total score on this imaginary 'skill/ talent list' didn't----in MY opinion----seem to translate like you thought it might to wins and losses.

    The 1980-81 Celtics did have Cowens and Archibald and Maxwell. And all 3 of those guys were there when they went 29-53 the year before. Cowens was in his last year when Bird was a rookie. The Celtics were 6'8", 6'8" and 6'9" (Bird) across the front line. that year. I can't easily explain away the leap to 61 wins from 29.

    I understand Jordan was replced with Myers PLUS Kukoc and Longley. But does that trifecta replace Magic? Bird? Wilt? Russell? I can't say YES to that. And that's what makes it a great discussion.

    Awesome contributions, Jason, Anon and Khandor!!

  50. James Says:

    I have been saying what Sean has been saying for years about the difference Bird made to his team compared to Jordan or anybody else that I know of. Another good example is the 1990-91 season. This was Bird's next to last season and he was certainly not in his prime, but look at the results. In the games Bird played, Boston won 46 and lost 14 for a winning percentage of 77%. They scored an average of 113.8 points and allowed 105.8. In the games he did not play, they won 10 and lost 12 for a percentage of 45%. They scored 105.4 and allowed 105.4. That is a HUGE difference and it is a large enough sample of games to make the comparison.

    The argument that Bird had better teammates makes no sense when those same teammates can't win without Bird but Jordan's teammates are almost as good without him as with him.

    Bird was the best ever.

  51. Jason J Says:

    I grew up watching Bird and Jordan, and IMO Michael was better. Offensively you could give it to Larry, but not by a lot. Defensively it's not close. Right, wrong or inconclusive, that's how my brain works it out.

    However, my uncle knows a few former NBA refs, and more than one picked Bird as the best ever because of his ability to keep his team together and make sure all the plays are run to perfection - basically that all those passes where it looked like he and McHale had ESP might have had a lot more to do with practice than we thought.

  52. Romain Says:

    Another thing, besides the quality of teammates, about the instant impact Bird & Magic had compared to Jordan.

    I think it was easier to have a huge impact in 1979 than in 1984 because the NBA was weakier.
    The 1970's are known as a weak area in the NBA, even if things started to improve after the merger in 1976.
    The 3 championship teams in 1977, 1978 & 1979 all collapsed rapidly due to various reasons (injuries or age in some cases), so by 1980 you did not have any great dynasty to keep you from winning it all.
    2 of the the players who were supposed to really dominate the early 1980's had their careers sadly shortened: Bill Walton and David Thompson.
    Besides the late 70's to early 80's was the cocaine era and it ruined a lot of careers (Micheal Ray Richardson for exemple), dragging even further down the overall level of the league.

    By comparison, when Jordan arrived in 1984, the NBA had pretty much cleaned its act, you had two of the greatest teams ever at their best, + the Sixers who were still a good team even though they could not repeat, and the Pistons who by 1987 had an amazing team and would repeatedly deny Jordan a shot at the title. I think it's fair to say it was a much tougher competition than 5 yeas before.

    Also, if you're going to hold against Jordan the fact that he needed 7 years to win a title, you have to give him credit for winning his last one, along with ASG, season and Finals MVP, at 35!
    That season, eventhough he had just won back-to-back titles and played 82 games in each of the previous seasons, he found the strength to play 82 games yet again and to lead the Bulls to 62 wins even thought Pippen played only 44 games.
    He led the league in scoring at 35 in an era that was mostly dominated by big men, before the rule changes that would make it easier for guards to score.

    By comparison, Bird career at the highest level lasted for his 9 seasons only before his injuries, and eventhough Magic's career came to a tragic end sooner that anyone had expected, it was clear at that time that he no longer was the best player on the league.

    I remember very well the 1998 season and playoffs, and the way Jordan carried the Bulls all year long at 35, in an era that was much tougher defensively that now, is absolutely amazing.

  53. Stephen Says:

    To say that Chamberlain could average 20 rebounds just because Rodman could isn't factoring in style of play and role in the offense. Rodman could afford to focus solely on rebounding on both ends. Chamberlain would be occupied in too areas, attempting to block shots, just all around expending energy on non rebounding areas to ever grab 20 rebounds for a whole season. It's kind of ridiculous to think that Chamberlain was so much better than the great bigs of the modern era that he could outboard other all-around big men by so much.

  54. Sean Says:

    Romain, thanks.

    Yeah. Certainly A LOT of what Michael Jordan did was amazing. Was the NBA ripe for the picking in 1979-80 by superstars? In some ways, it sure seemed like it. Did Magic and Bird have to (overnight) change a culture in the NBA with their style of play? One could argue that as well. How many guys can claim THAT?

    Was Jordan in his 30s still amazing? Yep. Credit all around.

    The story about Bird's physical demise supposedy begins with him shoveling gravel to build his mom her ENORMOUS driveway. A superstar millionaire basketball player shoveling gravel. He screwed up his back. His doctor said that (I think it was 1988?) Bird had 2 jobs then... playing basketball and managing his back. Do you remember Bird in the late 80s/ early 90s never sitting on the bench---but rather laying on the floor courtside to keep his back from stiffening and locking? And then, of course, he had 2 ruptured achilles that needed surgery. Imagine what a back like that and 2 ruptured achilles would do to the career of most. Bird continued to play in an effective way, albeit diminished, for several years.

    Now, of course, folks could say---Bird just didn't play long enough/ compile stats enough to be the GOAT. If that's important to you, then there's an argument against Bird.... he had like 9 big seasons, that's all.

    There was a stat years ago (don't know if it still stands---I imagine it does). Magic and Bird are the only 2 players in NBA history with 800 games played who won over 60 games for every 82 played. For Bird, it's amazing considering he came to a 29-win team... and considering what happened to his team when he left to have achilles surgery (42-40 with McHale, Parish and DJ still there). Bird's teams supposedly never won less than 50 games with him playing a full season. I haven't verified these things, mind you---but if they're true... that's amazing stuff.

  55. Sean Says:

    Again, for ME... who is the GOAT changes depending on how the question is operationally defined. How about a TEAM of Jordans VS a team of Birds. I'm tempted to take the Jordans. But imagine the ball movement with the Birds. Bird was the superior rebounder... but would the Jordans press and pick the Birds' pockets? Would the ball even touch the floor with the Birds moving it upcourt? Maybe that's just not a good way to look at it. LOL.

    If you asked me who was elite or exceptional at more basketball specific skills---I probably say Bird. If you included basketball related talents (jumping, running faster, etc.), the pendulum for me swings to Jordan (that's for skills + talents).

    If you asked me who I would want to add to my team, regardless if they were good or bad... I probably pick Bird more times than not. For me it all goes back to the strength of Jordan's case being how well he did so many things----and my observation/ belief that despite Jordan's incredible 'personal ability quotient'-----that 'more Jordan stats' didn't functionally result in more team wins (not to the degree you might think it would ON PAPER). The term 'diminished returns' pops into my mind. The analogy of the 'drug interaction' comes from this thought pattern of mine (rightly or wrongly). Did Jordan's increased personal prodcutivity REALLY mean increase team winning... and to what degree? My answers to those questions are 'YES' and 'NOT AS MUCH AS I THOUGHT BEFORE'. Rightly or wrongly, I think Bird meant more to the basic bottom line of winning games... when his team was good (57-25)... when his team was bad (29-53)...
    And no matter how much better Jordan is/ was at certain individual skills----whatever package Bird was selling just seemed more functional from a TEAM winning standpoint.

    To ME, that's more important than a skills + talent advantage.

    Sound crazy? A little bit... I mean it's hard to say the guy with better skills + talent is the greater player. Sounds ridiculous, frankly. But what did those skills and talent mean for the team, functionally? The math just doesn't add up. The Bird formula seemed to be the better catalyst even though you swear the Jordan ingredients were, overall, superior.

    I dunno.

    This discussion is awesome, ain't it?

  56. Sean Says:

    That should read: " I mean it's hard to say the guy with better skills + talent ISN'T the greater player."

  57. Sean Says:

    Stephen, I think you're onto something in the Rodman/ Chamberlain rebounding thingy. Rodman just wanted to rebound. He got hit in the back of the head by passes while turned waiting for a carom. He wasn't even paying attention to the ball before it was shot. When he would get 17-18 rebounds, I was always more impressed with Olajuwon's 13-14... because like Wilt, Olajuwon was the focal point of the offense. He had to set up and post and help with ball movement in the 1/2 court. Olajuwon had to move without the ball. Rodman prepared to rebound 90% of the time. Olajuwon and Wilt prepared to score/ help the team score---then rushed to rebound. And it's harder to rebound your own missed shots, by and large. How many shots did Wilt take? How many shots did Rodman take? Just looking at 'available rebounds' between Wilt's era and Rodman's, I noticed that there were a lot more rebounds to be had in Wilt's era. There were ROUGHLY two-thirds the available rebounds in Rodman's era to be had relative to Wilt's...... quick math= 27 rebounds for Wilt in Wilts era becomes 18 for Wilt in Rodman's era (all other things being equal---which they never are!).

  58. Sean Says:

    Romain says:

    By comparison, when Jordan arrived in 1984, the NBA had pretty much cleaned its act, you had two of the greatest teams ever at their best, + the Sixers who were still a good team even though they could not repeat, and the Pistons who by 1987 had an amazing team and would repeatedly deny Jordan a shot at the title. I think it's fair to say it was a much tougher competition than 5 years before.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    And the 2 conferences, IMO, were different animals in the 1980s, IMO. The East was better and rougher to play in. Sometimes it seemed it was 'last man standing' VS the Lakers in the Finals.

    In the 1990s, some might say that the whole NBA (from a very good/ great team standpoint)--sans the Bulls was like the Western Conference in the 1980s sans the Lakers.

  59. Sean Says:

    James Says:
    March 9th, 2010 at 2:10 am
    I have been saying what Sean has been saying for years about the difference Bird made to his team compared to Jordan or anybody else that I know of.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    And if this is your criteria for GOAT (and it's plausible), then you've got a tremendous argument for Bird.

  60. Sean Says:

    Jason J says:

    But Jordan's game doesn't generally get knocked on that level, because he's one of those rare uber-efficient, uber-productive, defensively gifted, clutch winners, where there's not much to denigrate. You wind up having to question what happened when he wasn't there or whether the competition was good enough, which opens debates about the relative value of teammates. It becomes massively subjective - which the whole idea of a GOAT is anyway.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Yep. I just can't ignore the dramatic swings in winning with Bird VS Jordan, though.

  61. Anon Says:

    Sean,

    As someone who is a HUGE fan of Larry Bird and what he has done for the game of basketball, I have to respectfully disagree with you. I think it's easy to highlight the difference in wins with Bird's Celtics and Jordan's Bulls (which can be pretty flawed for the simple fact that you have a lot of other factors that need to be considered besides adding/subtracting a player from the lineup) without looking at what each player had to work during their respective first seasons in the league. And when I look at Bird and Jordan, I see one player who had more baseline talent around him to start out with (Bird) than the other (Jordan). On the '80 Celtics, you had three key players that either have been an All-Star or MVP at some point in their careers or played like an All-Star during the previous season (Maxwell, Archibald, Cowens). Maxwell is an underrated player in NBA history (Neil even had a nice blurb about him in his "All-Star Snubs" entry a while back) and had several great seasons in his mid-20s, which coincided with some of the Celtics title runs in the '80s. Cowens and Archibald were shells of their former selves when Bird arrived in the 1980 season, but they still had something left in the tank and provided great support and veteran presence for the team as Maxwell and Bird ran the show. A solid bench rounded out the lineup, and you had more veteran experience there with Ford, Pistol Pete, and even Don Cheney (although he didn't get much playing time). Despite having a subpar '79 season, this was a good supporting cast for Bird to come to in his great rookie season.

    Now, enter Mike Jordan. When he started for Chi-town in the '85 season, he was playing for a young team -- the lone player over 30 and who had at least 7 years of experience playing pro-ball was Caldwell Jones (the '80 Celtics in comparison had five such players with at least 7 years of experience). Jones also happened to be the ONLY player on the roster who was a former All-Star at some point in his career (while his was in the ABA) and was no Cowens or Tiny as a player, even at their respective points in their careers. The Bulls best player before MJ arrived, Orlando Woodridge, had a pretty good season in '84 but was not like Cedric Maxwell in '85 (who posted better versatility and efficiency numbers across the board). And if you can happen to even NAME any other player on that team besides Jones and Woodridge without looking it up, you get extra credit. :)

    Simply put, MJ had alot less talent to work with starting off, and yet that '85 Bulls team made the playoffs and went four games against the best team in the league (by SRS) at the time, the Milwaukee Bucks. I sometimes hear the "MJ didn't make his teammates better early on" argument where Jordan was concerned before he finally won it all later in his career (which I think is completely false), but I think I've presented a pretty good case of where MJ raised the level of his team once he stepped foot on the basketball court in a Bulls uniform. With short-shorts, gold chain and all.

  62. Anon Says:

    Typo: should have said "...was not like Cedric Maxwell in '79", not '85.

  63. Jason J Says:

    This is a great thread, everybody. I don't think I've ever been involved in such a civil, thought-out GOAT discussion online.

    One more quick note for fun: I always loved the idea of seeing Jordan and Bird (my two faves growing up) on the same team in their respective primes. There's a sequence in the 1992 Olympics where they run a sideline pick and pop that turns into a post up for Jordan on baseline and ends in an open short corner 3 for Larry where the movement and adjustments and they made off each other looked like a choreographed dance. With Bird's rebounding, passing, and shooting, and Jordan's cuts and drives and kick outs, they would have been an ungodly offensive pairing. They are also two of the best players at getting back on D and breaking up a two on one fastbreak. For whatever that's worth.

  64. AYC Says:

    I really don't get the whole "Bird was more of a winner" argument at all; Bird won 3 titles, MJ won 6; Bird was finals MVP twice, MJ did it all six times; Birds winningest team had 67 wins; MJ had teams with 72 (the record), 69 (tying the old record) and 67 wins; that gives MJ (and Pippen) 3 teams that won over 80% of their games (Wilt had 2, no other player had more than 1). Instead of comparing 94 bulls to the 93 team, lets compare them to the 96, 97 and 92 squads

  65. AYC Says:

    Sean, see my post at #27 for a better idea of what Wilt would rebound today; the number would be somewhere between 13 and 15 rpg, not 18 rpg

  66. James Says:

    The point that Jordan won more titles than Bird doesn't prove anything for me. For one thing, look at the quality of teams Jordan had to beat to win a title and compare that to the teams Bird had to beat. I'll take the Lakers, Pistons, 76ers and even some of the other teams of the eighties over any of the teams Jordan faced in the nineties.

    Besides, comparing individual players on team success just doesn't work. Some players have better teammates or just play against weaker competition. But comparing how much individual players improve THEIR TEAM is the best way I can think of to tell who is really better. I don't know of anybody who improved his teams more than Bird.

    And not that this really proves anything, but how many titles did Jordan when before Bird hurt his back?

  67. Anon Says:

    "I grew up watching Bird and Jordan, and IMO Michael was better. Offensively you could give it to Larry, but not by a lot. Defensively it's not close. Right, wrong or inconclusive, that's how my brain works it out."

    You see, I actually have the opposite thinking about the two players. Offensively, Mike (and Wilt) were in a different stratosphere. Defensively, Mike was also better...but I feel that Bird was vastly underrated on defense. Maybe you wouldn't ask him to lock down someone one-on-one on a consistent basis, but 1) this is a team game, and defense is much more involved than one-one-one defense and 2) Bird had the uncanny instinct of simply being in the right place at the right time to make a key play or stop on that end. The man just knew how to play.

  68. Anon Says:

    "The point that Jordan won more titles than Bird doesn't prove anything for me. For one thing, look at the quality of teams Jordan had to beat to win a title and compare that to the teams Bird had to beat. I'll take the Lakers, Pistons, 76ers and even some of the other teams of the eighties over any of the teams Jordan faced in the nineties."

    You sure about that? I suggest you take a look at the SRS for those teams the Bulls played again. They played some great teams. Beating them all the time doesn't mean that the competition was necessarily bad, just MJ and the Bulls were that much better.

    "And not that this really proves anything, but how many titles did Jordan when before Bird hurt his back?"

    A little puzzling you would say this considering that you made this statement in your earlier paragraph: "Besides, comparing individual players on team success just doesn't work."

  69. Romain Says:

    Sean,

    Your main point is that Bird's presence had a bigger impact on the Celtics than Jordan's had on the Bulls.
    It is certainly a point that must be considered, but I would not say it is the most important one in the GOAT discussion.

    For example, as I am sure you are aware, the Spurs were 21-61 in 1988/89 the year before David Robinson joined the team, and 56-26 in 1989/90 (+35 wins). They were 59-23 in 1995/96 with Robinson playing 82 games, and 20-62 in 1996/97 with Robinson missing all but 6 games (-39 wins).

    This is an amazing feat, and it speaks volume about the impact Robinson had on the Spurs. And yet I'm sure everyone here will agree that Robinson does not belong in the GOAT discussion, and I would say he does not belong to the all-time top 5 centers discussion (I rank him at least behind Russell, Wilt, Kareem, Moses, Hakeem and Shaq).

    I agree with you that Bird was more team-oriented than Jordan, and that it translated into more early succes for Bird than Jordan. Jordan in a way needed to test his own individual limits, and he probably pushed it to a level that was detrimental to his team when he averaged 37 ppg in 1986/87. But I'd say it's ok to do that in your 3rd season (as opposed to say, your 10th season... sorry for Kobe fans, I just couldn't help it...), if you prove later on that you have the ability to change your game, which Jordan did.

  70. Sean Says:

    AYC says:

    Sean, see my post at #27 for a better idea of what Wilt would rebound today; the number would be somewhere between 13 and 15 rpg, not 18 rpg>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    The 18 rpg figure was simply produced by taking Wilt's % of available rebounds grabbed and applying it to the number of available rebounds in Rodman's day.

    It's a simple, likely flawed 'quickee' conversion. That's all. How did you arrive at 13-15 rpg for Wilt?

  71. Sean Says:

    Building on Jason J's #63:

    Magic and Bird played together in 1978 on some touring USA team. There was a play were the USA aggressively pushed the ball and Magic no-looked to Bird, who then advanced the ball only to no-look back to Magic----who layed it in. You just felt sorry for the other guys... just as a imagine the Jordan/ Bird play made you feel.

    I remember Magic showing us what Ralph Sampson COULD HAVE been in the All-Star Game. With Magic, Sampson would have been All-NBA several times over possibly. His abilities would have been maximized and we all would have seen how awesome he could have been. That's what Magic could do for you, IMO.

  72. khandor Says:

    IMO ...

    re: the GOAT

    1. Bill Russell was a dominant player who, after arriving at USF, then with the USA Olympic Team and, eventually, with the Boston Celtics, always performed as though he knew exactly what the game of basketball is REALLY all about, i.e. #1. Rebounding, #2. Team Defense, and, then, #3. Team Offense. The consumate Winner.

    2. Oscar Robertson was a similar player to Bill Russell, except at the Guard Position.

    3. Magic Johnson, at 6-9, effected the outcome of games in which his TEAM played in a way which was 3rd only to the impact of Russell and Oscar, IMO.

    4. Bird, at 6-9, was a true phenom, who understood how to play the game from an early age, displayed a fantastic motor, at all times, and was the best passing-shooting-rebounding forward in history ... who made his teammates better and could defend with intelligence and guile but was not really quick/agile/dynamic enough to defend the small forward position he was asked to player for his great Celtics teams, in comparison to the other great players in the league at that time at that same position.

    5. Michael Jordan is the most skilled, and dynamic, all-around Guard/Forward of all-time.

    6. Kareem Abdul Jabbar/Lew Alcindor is the most skilled [i.e. offensively, defensively and rebounding wise] big man of all-time, whose signature goto move [i.e. the "Sky Hook"] was the single greatest offensive weapon in the history of the game.

    7. Wilt Chamberlain is an all-time great who, unfortunately, had the mis-fortune of having to compete against Mr. Russell for the better part of his entire pro career. He was a truly dominant force, who could excel at just about anything he put his mind to ... except, of course, beating Mr. Russell's teams.

    8. Hakeem Olajuwon is the 4th best center of all-time, who excelled at each important phase of the game.

    9. Kobe Bryant is destined to go down in history, as the #2 to Michael Jordan's #1, at the Guard/Forward position.

    10. Shaquille O'Neal is the most dominant physical force in the history of the game. Period.

    Honourable Mention:
    LeBron James - once he wins a championship, or two, he is going to displace one of the 10 names on my list, I just don't know who.

    The individual stats for each of these all-time great players are readily available on-line for anyone who wants to check for themselves and compare with a by-the-numbers approach.

  73. Sean Says:

    Anon writes:

    Now, enter Mike Jordan. When he started for Chi-town in the '85 season, he was playing for a young team -- the lone player over 30 and who had at least 7 years of experience playing pro-ball was Caldwell Jones (the '80 Celtics in comparison had five such players with at least 7 years of experience). Jones also happened to be the ONLY player on the roster who was a former All-Star at some point in his career (while his was in the ABA) and was no Cowens or Tiny as a player, even at their respective points in their careers. The Bulls best player before MJ arrived, Orlando Woodridge, had a pretty good season in '84 but was not like Cedric Maxwell in '85 (who posted better versatility and efficiency numbers across the board). And if you can happen to even NAME any other player on that team besides Jones and Woodridge without looking it up, you get extra credit. :)>>>>>>>>>

    Off the top of MY head, I believe Quentin Daily played for that team... Dave Corzine, David Greenwood, Steve Johnson... that ain't exactly a CYO team. I mean, I know they weren't a good TEAM... they WERE 27-55 the year before Jordan---but I think it's inaccurate to say there was no talent. Was Maxwell THAT much better than Woolridge in their respective 'add the superstar' years? Didn't Orlando average about 23ppg? I think David Greenwood was the 2nd pick in the '79 draft. I think he was getting 8-9 rpg in his career to that point. I dunno. Sounds like the credit the rookie-Bird Celtics are getting is disproportional. Nate Archibald DID play in 80 games in Bird's rookie year as opposed to 68 the previous year and he played more Min/ game in 1979-80, too. But does that explain a 32 win jump vs an 11 win increase? I don't buy it, with all due respect. If it was an 18 win increase for Bird, yeah, maybe I could buy more of this. But it was +32 to +11. I just can't dismiss that so easily. Pete Maravich was on that team for 17 games at about 20 minutes a night. A) there was a reason he was available; B) there is a reason he wasn't retained.

    And I don't get the 'only one guy 30 years old' on Jordan's rookie year team reasoning. The 1991 Bulls were almost as young---like less than 1 year mean difference in age (or so) excluding Jordan. It's not resonating with me.

    Then, again there's the 15 win drop when Bird leaves, a 15 win drop when Magic leaves---and the 2 win drop when Jordan left. It just doesn't add up for me.

    I understand that although we're all looking at the same things... we ain't SEEING the same things. Reason 1A why it's a great discussion. Thanks so much for the consideration to my post----I have complete respect for yours as well, Anon.

  74. Sean Says:

    Romain says:

    For example, as I am sure you are aware, the Spurs were 21-61 in 1988/89 the year before David Robinson joined the team, and 56-26 in 1989/90 (+35 wins). They were 59-23 in 1995/96 with Robinson playing 82 games, and 20-62 in 1996/97 with Robinson missing all but 6 games (-39 wins).

    Was David Robinson the only significant addition or loss those years? Does the name Sean Elliot ring a bell? Terry Cummings? The entire core of the Spurs changed when Robinson was a rookie. Elliot missed more than 1/2 the season when Robinson was out. Chuck Person was also gone... and enter 37 year old Dominique Wilkins.

    I don't view it at all the same situation.

  75. James Says:

    Anon says:

    "A little puzzling you would say this considering that you made this statement in your earlier paragraph: "Besides, comparing individual players on team success just doesn't work.""

    That is why I said that it does not prove anything. That particular statement was not meant to prove that Bird was better, but more to show how equally irrelevant the whole "Jordan has more titles than Bird" argument is.

  76. Ryan Says:

    Anybody care to surmise Pippen's record in 94-95 until Jordan came back and thrusted them into the playoffs later that year? How about Jordan carrying the Bulls to 62 wins in '98 with Pippen sitting half the season?

    A younger version of Michael may not have made a stratospheric difference to his team, but when you're surrounded by a core that is, at any rate, potentially the worst of the modern era and full of players that did NOT know how to play alongside each other, then it is completely insignificant in my opinion.

    I'm of the firm belief that if you have an already great squad, and you add Michael Jordan, you WILL win a ring. He didn't have that luxury as a youngster, he was put into a situation of no continuity. Changes in rotation, coaching staff, rosters - you name it. You don't carve a diamond out of bread, no matter how good you are.

  77. AYC Says:

    Sean, did you look at post #27? The league-wide rebound avg in 2009 was about 56% of what it was 1961 (not 67%); 56% of 27.2 is 15.3; then I adjusted to 40mpg because there is no way wilt would be allowed to play 47.6 min per game in today's league

  78. Sean Says:

    Romain says:
    Your main point is that Bird's presence had a bigger impact on the Celtics than Jordan's had on the Bulls.
    It is certainly a point that must be considered, but I would not say it is the most important one in the GOAT discussion.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    And that is your opinion and there is nothing wrong with that opinion. This statement by you (and it's completely valid) captures what I am trying to say... which is that we tend to disagree in these GOAT discussions MORE with regards to which criteria is most important------and NOT which guy was superior in what area.

    'Having a bigger impact on your team's winning' is VERY important to me. That's why Bird scores high for me. Other people don't value this element as much---hence they like somebody else who rates higher/ highest in what THEY think is most important.

    I TOTALLY respect the opinions of others regarding which criteria should be weighed more----(I may disagree)-----but I don't determine for anyone 'what's more important in GOAT discussions'. I enjoy the debate about what criteria is most important and I enjoy the application of the criteria to the players' resumes. It's fun. Thanks everybody for your continued excellence in this discussion.

  79. Sean Says:

    AYC:
    Sean, did you look at post #27? The league-wide rebound avg in 2009 was about 56% of what it was 1961 (not 67%); 56% of 27.2 is 15.3; then I adjusted to 40mpg because there is no way wilt would be allowed to play 47.6 min per game in today's league>>>>>>>>>>

    OK... you were comparing Wilt's day to 2009. My bad. I was comparing it to RODMAN'S 17-18 rpg years. Maybe that's the difference in our calculations? And if you adjusted to 40min/game, then that would explain part of it, as well. Frankly, I never adjusted the min/ game... but I kinda like it. May I STEAL that idea from you? . Good work! Thanks.

  80. Sean Says:

    Ryan Says:
    Anybody care to surmise Pippen's record in 94-95 until Jordan came back and thrusted them into the playoffs later that year? How about Jordan carrying the Bulls to 62 wins in '98 with Pippen sitting half the season?
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    I think Jordan played 17 games that year in the regular season? I wonder if the same dynamic existed on that team compared to teams where Michael wasn't 'a late season addition/ shot in the arm'... I could be wrong---but the Bulls were toiling just above .500 with no Jordan that year, then MJ gets added and the Bulls won something like 13 out of 17. That's a HECK of a shot in the arm. Did Jordan add to the Bulls' game those 17 games instead of the usual 'Bulls adding to JORDAN'S game'...? I dunno. It's fun to think about.

    In '98 Pippen missed 38 games? He played about 1450 minutes LESS than in 1997. The Bulls won 62 games in 1998 and with less of Pippen (they won 69 games in 1997).

    Whoa. This IS interesting. Jordan leaves a team and Pippen plays a full year and the Bulls lose 2 wins. When Jordan plays a full year and Pippen misses 38 games, the Bulls lose 7 wins.

    In 1998, Pippen played over 1400 LESS minutes than in 1997. In 1998, Harper played 500+ additional minutes than in 1997, Rodman 900+ more minutes, Steve Kerr 700+ more minutes, Longley 200+ more minutes, Kukoc 600+ more minutes. Jordan played 75 more minutes in 1998 than in 1997.

    I dunno. The 1998 Bulls lost 7 wins from the previous year with Pippen out 38 games----and what looks like more Rodman and Kukoc to try to offset that at the forward position. The backcourt also looks like it was reshuffled (except Jordan) with regards to minutes (e.g., more Harper, Kerr).

    Cool question.

  81. Sean Says:

    Romain says:

    For example, as I am sure you are aware, the Spurs were 21-61 in 1988/89 the year before David Robinson joined the team, and 56-26 in 1989/90 (+35 wins). They were 59-23 in 1995/96 with Robinson playing 82 games, and 20-62 in 1996/97 with Robinson missing all but 6 games (-39 wins).>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Was David Robinson the only significant addition or loss those years? Does the name Sean Elliot ring a bell? Terry Cummings? The entire core of the Spurs changed when Robinson was a rookie. Elliot missed more than 1/2 the season when Robinson was out. Chuck Person was also gone... and enter 37 year old Dominique Wilkins.

    I don't view it at all the same situation.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    You also have to keep in mind that Mo Cheeks and Rod Strickland were added in addition to Cummings, Elliot and Robinson in Robinson's rookie year. Totally different team, IMO.

  82. Jason J Says:

    Sean - as regards Bulls wins with Michael or Scottie missing, it probably bears mentioning that Jordan was hurt as well to start the 1998 season (ingrown toenail surgery before the season). Chicago really picked it up after Michael's efficiency climbed back up. MJ also started propping up Rodman and getting more out of him as the season progressed (per David Halberstam's "Playing for Keeps" which chronicles the 1998 season).

    Also, I don't believe Chicago won a single game that Jordan missed due to injury or suspension (unexpected absences) during their title years. Though that is a pitifully small sample of games.

  83. Sean Says:

    Ryan wrote:

    A younger version of Michael may not have made a stratospheric difference to his team, but when you're surrounded by a core that is, at any rate, potentially the worst of the modern era and full of players that did NOT know how to play alongside each other, then it is completely insignificant in my opinion.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    'Completely insignificant'... hmmm... good to see we're open minded about it . HEY, it's your opinion. That's totally fine.

    And now Jordan's rookie team was 'potentially the worst' core of the modern era. WOW. That's a bold statement. Any one of us could probably dig up in short order some examples to challenge that. I'll just throw the 2009-10 Nets out there for appetizers.

  84. Sean Says:

    Anon writes:

    Despite having a subpar '79 season, this was a good supporting cast for Bird to come to in his great rookie season.>>>>>>>>>

    A 'subpar' 1979 season. 29-53. It was like their worst season in 30 years. The Celtics were also 32-50 (I think) in 1978. This was NOT a good team Bird was coming to.
    I'm getting the sales pitch that the 27-55 Bulls that Jordan inherited was the worst team ever---and they mugged nuns and drowned puppies on their off days... and the 29-53 (following up 32-50 the year before) Celtics that Bird inherited was a Rolls Royce that just needed some Turtle Wax and fuzzy dice to win the car show.
    REALLY, guys?

  85. Sean Says:

    Ryan writes:

    I'm of the firm belief that if you have an already great squad, and you add Michael Jordan, you WILL win a ring. He didn't have that luxury as a youngster, he was put into a situation of no continuity. Changes in rotation, coaching staff, rosters - you name it. You don't carve a diamond out of bread, no matter how good you are.
    >>>>>>>>

    How about making a decent sandwich, then? I mean we ARE talking about the GOAT here. There's not going to be much of a grading curve. 40-42 in his 3rd year (is that what they were?) is still not a silver bullet for the GOAT resume, IMO.

    Jordan had 4 head coaches? Bird had 4. Bird had roster turnover. His teams won over 50 games every full season (or near full season) he played. He won 52 games at least once with all 4 coaches he had---despite roster turnover. Bird's teams won over 60 games for each 82 that he played in.

    Now, honestly... I don't know if Larry Bird is the GOAT. Maybe it's Magic. Maybe it's Bill Russell or Jabbar or Oscar or Wilt or somebody else. Phrase the criteria the right way and maybe it's Jordan... the thing IS------a lot of the rationalizations to excuse the blemishes on Jordan's resume... well, they get kinda mucked up by what Bird did, IMO. Bird kinda blows it for Jordan, IMO. He went to the bad team... he played for 4 coaches... and if he didn't carve a diamond out of bread when he entered the NBA---he came close.

    I didn't pick Jordan and Bird out of thin air to compare in this thread. The teams they inherited compelled me to look at them... the 57-25 records of their teams just before they left at the tops of their games for all or nearly all of the next season compelled me to compare...

  86. Sean Says:

    Romain wrote:
    I agree with you that Bird was more team-oriented than Jordan, and that it translated into more early succes for Bird than Jordan. Jordan in a way needed to test his own individual limits, and he probably pushed it to a level that was detrimental to his team when he averaged 37 ppg in 1986/87. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Later in their careers, they left 57 win teams while at the top of their respective games. Bird's team responded with 15 fewer wins... Jordan's team responded with 2 fewer wins (Magic's team in a similar situation---his team had 58 wins---responded with 15 fewer wins)... so it was in the beginning AND when they were at the tops of their respective games.

    The whole idea that Jordan was testing his own individual limits to the detriment of his team (which is a very candid and genuine comment by you---kudos btw), is damaging, IMO, to his GOAT resume. In ANY year of his career. I think Bill Russell's teamates would have a heart attack if they were told a player who did that was still considered greater than Russell. Russell won 11 championships in 13 years. He lost in the Finals and the Conference Finals the other 2 years. The Celtics had never won before this run.

    Just sayin'.

  87. Sean Says:

    Jason J:

    I didn't know that about Jordan's ingrown toenail. I also appreciate the stat about the Bulls losing the games Jordan missed. Thanks.

  88. Sean Says:

    James says:
    The point that Jordan won more titles than Bird doesn't prove anything for me. For one thing, look at the quality of teams Jordan had to beat to win a title and compare that to the teams Bird had to beat. I'll take the Lakers, Pistons, 76ers and even some of the other teams of the eighties over any of the teams Jordan faced in the nineties.>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Fair or not---this is something that ALWAYS comes up in a discussion like this one. The timing of Jordan's TEAM success is TOO coincidental (convenient?) for certain folks. If he had gone through SOMEBODY in the 80s, it would help his argument, I think. The great teams of the 80s went through each other right in the middle of runs that each of the others were having------the Sixers took down the Lakers in the middle of the Lakers' run of 5 titles. The Celtics did the same. The Celtics and Sixers beat the crap out of each other in addition to the typically lesser, albeit perennially competitive playoff teams (the Pistons, the Hawks, the Knicks, the Bucks, etc)just to get a shot at the Lakers. Even the Pistons (who made the Bulls wait) had to wait out the Celtics, rather than go through them in the meat of their 80s run. By the time the Bulls got past the Pistons, they were already winding down THEIR run that was delayed by Philly and Boston.

    I liken the 90s best teams (not including the Bulls) to maybe the Western Conference teams of the 80s (not including the Lakers).

    For whatever it's worth, the centers that Bird had to face in the Finals in the 80s were Moses Malone, Jabbar and Olajuwon. Jordan's opposing centers in the Finals of the 90s? I think they were Divac, Duckworth, Mark West, Ervin Johnson (not Magic) and Greg Ostertag. This is NOT Jordan's fault, mind you. It's just an observation.

  89. Sean Says:

    Lemme take a break from Jordan and Bird... whew! Uhhh... Kobe Bryant----he's SO hard for me to sum up/ quantify. He's one of the greatest TALENTS I've seen. I know he has 4? rings... but he committed a Cardinal Sin, IMO. He drove a player who may have helped him to multiple additional rings by now------Shaq------away. I can't forgive him for that. What player in any 'greatest' conversation would do that? Now, I don't know what went on between he and Shaq... and I'm sure Shaq did his share of 'difficult to bear' things... but a guy like Magic (who I will NEVER consider Kobe better than) made sure he fed HIS surly big fella. I hear stories that lead on to believe that Jabbar was no day at the beach to hang with------but Magic made sure Kareem was tended to and they stayed together.

  90. Sean Says:

    How about Wilt? I cannot really comment too strongly on him as I never saw him play when I could really understand the value of what I was looking at.

    He scored 50ppg and made the NBA widen the lane. He led the league in total assists because he said he could. There are some things I hear about Wilt and I'd like to know you guys know or have heard...

    Now I also know that despite Russell's MVPs, Wilt was actually typically the 1st Team All NBA Center 7 times to Russell's twice (pardon me if I'm getting that wrong).

    I hear that Wilt had bad '7th games' ... or bad 4th Quarters in playoff games... and that he wasn't mentally tough (and that's how Russell's teams kept beating Wilt's teams)... I hear how affected Wilt was with Willis Reed's heroism in the Finals in 1969------instead of crushing Reed who was lame... he really gets painted as a fatally flawed giant who was missing that critical element to complete the perfect player.

    Sounds like a rough rep. Did he earn it?

    I have concluded this---I don't know if he early on fully appreciated the value of team play----and his self-absorption was kind of crystalized for me in this ironic twist: to prove that he WASN'T selfish---he set out to lead the league in total assists (and he succeeded). Now, the irony, I'm sure escapes no one here: How can you be unselfish purposely trying to lead the league in something? Even maybe looking to make scoring passes when you would be helping more by shooting in certain spots? It seems that Wilt only displayed INCREASED selfishness in his ham-handed attempt to show that he's NOT selfish. He was about as clumsy as Edward Scissorhands when it came to understanding team play and selflessness, it seemed. He took a lesser offensive role on the 1972 Lakers and that won a title. I wonder if he took similar direction earlier in his career----could he have beaten Russell more (than the 1 time in 1967).

  91. Anon Says:

    "A 'subpar' 1979 season. 29-53. It was like their worst season in 30 years. The Celtics were also 32-50 (I think) in 1978. This was NOT a good team Bird was coming to.
    I'm getting the sales pitch that the 27-55 Bulls that Jordan inherited was the worst team ever---and they mugged nuns and drowned puppies on their off days... and the 29-53 (following up 32-50 the year before) Celtics that Bird inherited was a Rolls Royce that just needed some Turtle Wax and fuzzy dice to win the car show.
    REALLY, guys?"

    Now you know I don't mean it like THAT, but I think there's a difference between going to a core squad that at least had veteran experience and a history of having All-Star/MVP caliber performances in the past (Maxwell, Cowens, Archibald) than a squad that did not (Woolridge, Daily, Corzine, Johnson, Greenwood). And even though they were past their primes, I'd still take the production of Cowens and Archibald over what Daily/Corzine/Johnson/Greenwood did at any point in their careers, even if you want to consider Woolridge and Maxwell a "wash". By the way, I was impressed at your being able to remember the names of some of the Bulls players on the '85 squad outside of MJ. Well done :)

  92. Romain Says:

    Sean,

    I know you're not going to agree with me on this, but to me the whole debate Bird vs Jordan as GOAT goes down like this :

    NBA titles : Jordan (6) > Bird (3)
    Season MVP : Jordan (5) > Bird (3)
    Finals MVP : Jordan (6) > Bird (2)
    All NBA 1st Team : Jordan (10) > Bird (9)
    All NBA 1st Defensive Team : Jordan (9) > Bird (0)

    Also, about the centers Jordan and Bird faced in the Finals: let's not forget that the Celtics had Robert Parish against them. I know he was no Moses or Kareem but we're talking about a 9 time All-Star here.
    On the other hand, the Bulls' centers during their title runs? Well... a washed-up Bill Cartwright, Scott Williams, Will Perdue, Luc Longley, Bill Wennington...
    And the Bulls played some pretty good centers in the Eastern Conference playoffs: Patrick Ewing, Shaquille O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning, or even Dikembe Mutombo.

  93. Jason J Says:

    Speaking more about the theory of how we determine who's "better", is team wins really the best measure? I guess the way I look at it, winning is largely circumstantial - a result of many factors rather than a reflection of a single player's contribution. If you can't explain how the team came to take its victories, then assigning credit to an individual and holding that as a trump over everyone else isn't really determinant.

    That's why all these great statisticians are trying to find ways to attribute winning to players as individuals or lineups rather than just saying that this player's team won so many games / titles, hence he's greater than others. Longley has more rings than Hakeem, Robinson, Moses, Walton, but if we even glance at stat sheets we know he wasn't as good a player. If you actually watch them play you can explain WHY he wasn't better or more important. I think that factoring all three - results, stats, and observations is necessary. That's why I don't generally talk about players I didn't get to see.

    Obviously everyone falls on some continuum of talent and another of success, but it certainly needs to be looked into more deeply than team A + player X = Nwins vs. team B + player Y = Nwins-1.

  94. Anon Says:

    "Speaking more about the theory of how we determine who's "better", is team wins really the best measure? I guess the way I look at it, winning is largely circumstantial - a result of many factors rather than a reflection of a single player's contribution. If you can't explain how the team came to take its victories, then assigning credit to an individual and holding that as a trump over everyone else isn't really determinant."

    It seems to me that basketball has this problem more than anyone else, where some of its fans use the way too simple "great player X has more wins/rings, therefore he's better than great player Y" argument. Baseball fans don't sit around and wonder if Willie Mays isn't one of the very best players of all-time (and many even argue that he is the GOAT of the sport) because he has just one World Series victory in his career. Some football fans might use the championships-to-rank-players reasoning to rank QBs in NFL history, but overall they don't really decide who is better than who based on Super Bowl wins. Basketball players can influence their team's successes from an individual standpoint more than players in the other team sports, but this in no way should be a reason that one should start crediting single players for a team's success. A basketball player's success from a wins and championships standpoint is still very much tied to how the rest of his teammates perform (and other important factors such as coaching, competition, etc.) in addition to his own play.

  95. AYC Says:

    GOAT
    1) MJ
    2) Wilt
    3) Kareem
    4) Russell
    5) Magic
    6) Bird
    7) Shaq
    8) Oscar
    9) Hakeem
    10) TD
    11) the rapist
    12) Jerry West

    BOAT (Best...)
    1) MJ
    2) Lebron
    3) Kareem
    4) Hakeem
    5) Shaq
    6) Magic
    7) Bird
    8) TD
    9) D-Wade
    10) the rapist
    11) Wilt
    12) West

  96. Sean Says:

    Anon wrote:
    I think there's a difference between going to a core squad that at least had veteran experience and a history of having All-Star/MVP caliber performances in the past (Maxwell, Cowens, Archibald) than a squad that did not (Woolridge, Daily, Corzine, Johnson, Greenwood). And even though they were past their primes, I'd still take the production of Cowens and Archibald over what Daily/Corzine/Johnson/Greenwood did at any point in their careers, even if you want to consider Woolridge and Maxwell a "wash". >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    29-53 is 29-53. I'm not a big fan of the 'yeah, but' defense, here. There was a team with Olajuwon and Barkley that went 34-48. Yeah, but it's OLAJUWON and BARKLEY. Ehhh... that team was 34-48. Period. I don't get sucked in by the name recognition or what those players WERE at one time. Archibald and Cowens were part of the core of a 29-53 team in 1978-79. I found out a long time ago---if the person LYING to you is a HOT GIRL...... it's no less a lie. ;)

  97. Sean Says:

    Romain:

    Thanks for the list of Eastern Conference centers the 90s Bulls played. It's a good list and point taken. Nice job by you.

    I understand the personal awards advantage Jordan has over Bird, as well as the championships. I'm sorry----but I am biased towards the 80s as a superior era ...I liken the entire 90s NBA (sans Bulls) much like the 80s Western Conference (sans Lakers). I know that's not a unanimous opinion here. But it's mine. The championships in the 90s just don't carry the same weight for me. To steal a line from Jason J: "Right, wrong or inconclusive, that's how my brain works it out."

    I also do weigh the affect on his team's winning that Bird had no matter what the individual award ceremony looks like. I know some people don't buy that you can tell what impact Bird or Jordan had on their teams winning in the seasons I mentioned--------but I find those dots rather easy to connect. I know I can't MAKE everyone else connect those dots, but to ME, it's a pre-school connect-the-dots pony----and the head and tail and hooves are drawn in for you

  98. Sean Says:

    but I find those dots rather easy to connect. I know I can't MAKE everyone else connect those dots, but to ME, it's a pre-school connect-the-dots pony----and the head and tail and hooves are drawn in for you>>>>>>>>

    And that was meant to have a big 'GRIN' at the end of it........

  99. Sean Says:

    Anon wrote:
    Basketball players can influence their team's successes from an individual standpoint more than players in the other team sports, but this in no way should be a reason that one should start crediting single players for a team's success. A basketball player's success from a wins and championships standpoint is still very much tied to how the rest of his teammates perform (and other important factors such as coaching, competition, etc.) in addition to his own play.>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Sometimes in basketball you CAN reasonably connect the dots when a player joins a core, then leaves it-------by looking at the wins and losses. You can measure an impact, IMO. Even in football, when a offensive lineman goes down-----you can notice the void a player leaves when he's not there. I think it's easier to measure impact when a basketball player is added or subtracted (especially when much/ all of the core is the same).
    People are at liberty to deny that this is possible or reasonable. I just don't feel that way in the case I presented with Jordan and Bird.

  100. Sean Says:

    Romain says:
    Also, about the centers Jordan and Bird faced in the Finals: let's not forget that the Celtics had Robert Parish against them. I know he was no Moses or Kareem but we're talking about a 9 time All-Star here.>>>>>>>>>

    YES. You are correct, again, Romain. I liked Parish as a player. And Jordan's centers were NOT the types that made all-star games... but I think Jordan WANTED it that way. I don't think Jordan had any desire for a post player who commanded the ball. I don't think Jordan wanted a McHale or a Parish. They had to be 'tended to'. You had to keep them involved to maximize their effectiveness, IMO. Horace Grant didn't stick in Chicago. He wanted the ball more. Buh-bye. Jordan liked it just fine, I think, with a trifecta of 7 footers who kept their mouths shut and fouled the opposing center to death and drew him outside to clear the lane for Jordan's drives to the basket. (Remember when you had to play strict man to man and teams would use their centers to clear out the lane by having them wander outside?) As much as a nightmare that whackjob Rodman was to manage------let's face it------he was Jordan's DREAM power forward. He annoyed the opponent's best players, played great defense and rebounded like the dickens. He dove for loose balls and fetched them for Jordan. And he required ZERO 'tending to' by way of getting shots.

  101. Anon Says:

    "29-53 is 29-53. I'm not a big fan of the 'yeah, but' defense, here. There was a team with Olajuwon and Barkley that went 34-48. Yeah, but it's OLAJUWON and BARKLEY. Ehhh... that team was 34-48. Period. I don't get sucked in by the name recognition or what those players WERE at one time. Archibald and Cowens were part of the core of a 29-53 team in 1978-79. I found out a long time ago---if the person LYING to you is a HOT GIRL...... it's no less a lie. ;)"

    It's not being suckered by "name recognition", it's just going back and looking at how all these players performed over their careers (particularly in the "smart" metrics on this site). Even a "used-to-be-great" Cowens and Archibald were as (or even more) productive than Daily, Corizine, Johnson, and Greenwood were in their primes. They're like legendary rock stars who perform in their 50s and 60s -- they may be a bit over-the-hill, but they can still put on a good show. And Archibald was a key producer for the '81 Celtics title team.

  102. Anon Says:

    "Sometimes in basketball you CAN reasonably connect the dots when a player joins a core, then leaves it-------by looking at the wins and losses. You can measure an impact, IMO. Even in football, when a offensive lineman goes down-----you can notice the void a player leaves when he's not there. I think it's easier to measure impact when a basketball player is added or subtracted (especially when much/ all of the core is the same)."

    I somewhat agree with this. The important thing to remember though is that things DON'T remain constant even if you have a similar core from one year to the next. Players can fluctuate in their performance; they may have career years in one season and an off-year in another. Also, other important factors such as coaching personnel, injuries, how your competition plays, etc. need to be considered. That's why I (and also Jason talked about in his post) said that it's not right to just say "Bird/Jordan walked on their teams and they made their team win ____ games and championships". Sure, they were the best players on their respective squads and helped lead their team to greater heights, but this is ultimately a team effort, not an individual one. What ELSE happened? As with all things, proper context needs to be applied.

  103. James Says:

    Anon Says:

    "I somewhat agree with this. The important thing to remember though is that things DON'T remain constant even if you have a similar core from one year to the next. Players can fluctuate in their performance; they may have career years in one season and an off-year in another. Also, other important factors such as coaching personnel, injuries, how your competition plays, etc. need to be considered. That's why I (and also Jason talked about in his post) said that it's not right to just say "Bird/Jordan walked on their teams and they made their team win ____ games and championships". Sure, they were the best players on their respective squads and helped lead their team to greater heights, but this is ultimately a team effort, not an individual one. What ELSE happened? As with all things, proper context needs to be applied."

    I might agree with that if it is just a one time thing, but look at the difference from the season before Bird arrived and his first season AND how much they dropped of the year he missed all but 6 games (1988-89 I think) AND the difference in the games he played and the games he didn't play in 1990-1991 (see my earlier post on that) AND how they dropped after he retired. That is just too many times for it to be just some strange circumstances for me.

  104. Sean Says:

    Anon says:

    It's not being suckered by "name recognition", it's just going back and looking at how all these players performed over their careers (particularly in the "smart" metrics on this site). Even a "used-to-be-great" Cowens and Archibald were as (or even more) productive than Daily, Corizine, Johnson, and Greenwood were in their primes. They're like legendary rock stars who perform in their 50s and 60s -- they may be a bit over-the-hill, but they can still put on a good show. And Archibald was a key producer for the '81 Celtics title team.>>>>>>>>

    Again. At the end of the day.... they were 29-53. I don't mean to say you were a SUCKER for name recognition (that's a little harsh---and I wouldn't say that to you)...

    Archibald contrubuted more to the '81 team. He did. He played more minutes per game and he played more games. So take part of that 32 game improvement and put it on Archibald's plate.

    Some of us might rather go see an NBA Old Timers Game than a Jersey Shore Summer League game. But in truth? The Jersey Shore Summer League game might have the better basketball, though. 29-53 is what it is. You can feel better about those guys for whatever reason (Cowens, etc.), but it is what it is. I've heard old rockers perform... and once you get through all of the nostalgia-----sometimes you realize they sound terrible.

    I didn't want to go here, but.....if Dave Cowens stunk up your john------does it smell less bad because it's Dave Cowens? ;)

  105. Anon Says:

    "I might agree with that if it is just a one time thing, but look at the difference from the season before Bird arrived and his first season AND how much they dropped of the year he missed all but 6 games (1988-89 I think) AND the difference in the games he played and the games he didn't play in 1990-1991 (see my earlier post on that) AND how they dropped after he retired. That is just too many times for it to be just some strange circumstances for me."

    Allow me to reiterate. I am NOT saying that these star players aren't the most important parts of their teams, per se. I am saying that taking year-by-year comparisons of team records to determine a player's value assumes that everything outside of the player remains constant from year-to-year, which is patently false.

  106. Anon Says:

    "Again. At the end of the day.... they were 29-53. I don't mean to say you were a SUCKER for name recognition (that's a little harsh---and I wouldn't say that to you)..."

    You didn't need to say that; I didn't find what you said offensive in any way. You have been nothing but civil in this discussion and thoughtful in all of your posts, and that is to be greatly commended.

    I agree with you about people not really looking at how a player or group of players performed because they often confuse how a particular player USED to perform instead of seeing him for what he is doing in the present moment. I'm just saying that Dave Cowens the player still had something left in the tank when Bird joined the team, even after a bad season in '79. Now, some people sometimes like to credit improvement in other players to the STAR of the team, but I tend not to do that. Stars can certainly motivate teammates, coaches can do the same, but players ultimately need to take it upon themselves to play better. For that I give Cowens his props for his solid play in Bird's rookie year.

  107. Sean Says:

    Anon said:
    Allow me to reiterate. I am NOT saying that these star players aren't the most important parts of their teams, per se. I am saying that taking year-by-year comparisons of team records to determine a player's value assumes that everything outside of the player remains constant from year-to-year, which is patently false.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    'Everything' doesn't reamain constant from year to year. But sometimes A LOT remains bacically the same-------certainly enough in SOME cases to make valid observations pertaining to a player's impact. Let's not pretend that everything is an exact science regarding all of the cute little metrics out there-------but that nobody can look at the arrival of a player to a similar/ 'basically the same' team core and note relative impact. It's not exact in any case. I'm sure we can all agree on that. These are not experiments in a lab... but we all know that valid conclusions are drawn everyday based on 'real-life' setting events that are confounded by thousands of variables. Frankly, I'd say the Bird and Jordan example I've mentioned is relatively... RELATIVELY... clean of so many confounding variables when compared to the uncountable real life setting observations made every day. Then add in James' example of the 60 games Bird played another season (46-14) and they went 10-12 without him. There is an extremely high, positive correlation between Bird's participation on a team and that team winning more games (A lot more). It's a RELIABLE correlation, too---because it happened over and over again.

  108. Sean Says:

    Anon said:
    I'm just saying that Dave Cowens the player still had something left in the tank when Bird joined the team, even after a bad season in '79. Now, some people sometimes like to credit improvement in other players to the STAR of the team, but I tend not to do that. Stars can certainly motivate teammates, coaches can do the same, but players ultimately need to take it upon themselves to play better. For that I give Cowens his props for his solid play in Bird's rookie year.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Cowens was on a bad Celtics team in 1978, too (32-50). Then he and Nate Archibald were on a worse team in 1979 (29-53). If Bird doesn't merit credit for others' play in 1980 (and I'm not saying one way or the other)---------then why the 32 win improvement? Cowens actually had better stats in 1979. Is it more a reach to say that Cowens tanked it in '78 & '79------then played better (all on his own/ no help from Bird) in 1980, thus falsely making Bird's impact bigger?
    I understand it can be difficult to conclude (no matter how supportive the evidence) that Bird had a bigger impact on winning for his teams than Jordan did... but frankly, the twists and turns one has to make to justify that it wasn't Bird, but rather some 'yet to be specifically named' confluence of OTHER factors makes me feel foolish.

  109. Sean Says:

    Anon says:
    That's why I (and also Jason talked about in his post) said that it's not right to just say "Bird/Jordan walked on their teams and they made their team win ____ games and championships". Sure, they were the best players on their respective squads and helped lead their team to greater heights, but this is ultimately a team effort, not an individual one. What ELSE happened? As with all things, proper context needs to be applied."
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    We all know it's a team game. And nothing happens in a vacuum (like increased team winning)... but doesn't that go the same for personal stats and awards? Somebody makes it possible for you to shoot the ball 25 times, etc. Do THEY happen in a vacuum? With regards to the changes in team winning----I just try to eliminate as many variables as I can. Richard Dreyfuss in JAWS might look at the 1980 and 1989 Celtics and other years as well and say: 'Well, this was NOT a boating accident.... and it WASN'T Jack the Ripper-----------------it was LARRY BIRD.' ;)

    I said it before.... I would feel MORE foolish NOT drawing that conclusion based on the data/ evidence/ observations I've made.

  110. Sean Says:

    Just some more odd factoids... do with them what you wish...

    Michael Jordan NEVER played for a single NBA team that finished above .500 when Scottie Pippen wasn't on his team.

    The Bulls in 1994 without Jordan had a better winning % when Pippen played with no Jordan (51-21= .708)than they did in 1993 for the entire year (57-25= .695).

    The Celtics were 45-22 without Kevin McHale from 1987-1992 (it's as far back as the application goes on this site).

    The Bulls with Pippen in 1998 were 36-8. Without him, they were 26-12.

    Pippen may have been more indispensable to his teams than a lot of us (me included) would have wagered... and McHale LESS so.

  111. Jason J Says:

    In 1988 Pippen played 20 minutes per game, didn't start at all, scored less than 8 points a game on mediocre shooting and was basically marginalized by Coach Collins while Jordan taught him how to play offense in practice (again from David Halberstam's "Playing for Keeps"). His impact on the 50 win team is undeniably minimal. His influence on the 1989 47 win team was bigger as his minutes jumped up. Neither of which proves the slightest thing about Michael Jordan or Scottie Pippen.

    You're working in purely theoretical space now, attributing success to whatever factors you can find to support your idea.

    In the same vein - Bird never made the playoffs without at least 1 other All-Star on his team. Jordan did it 7 times. Bird never won a title without at least 2 other future Hall of Fame players on his team. Jordan only ever played with one other Hall of Fame level player in his prime (he did play with Parish in his dotage).

    I don't believe either of those facts have the slightest impact on how we should view MJ or LB, do you?

  112. Sean Says:

    Jason J:

    So Jordan was on a winning team with Pippen playing 20 minutes per game in 1988. He was also on a winning team with Pippen only playing 44 games in 1998. To ME, for the GOAT to not have any winning seasons without him AT ALL... it's a bit curious, at the very least. That's just me.

    Your opinion that certain facts 'don't prove the slightest thing' or 'have the slightest impact on how we should view' someone-----are your opinion. That's perfectly OK. I will look at any fact and consider it's weight in the larger discussion in an attempt to put it in context.

    You said: 'You're working in purely theoretical space now, attributing success to whatever factors you can find to support your idea.' Should I be insulted? I'm going to choose not to read into that. You can clarify if you want, otherwise I'll ignore it.

    I'm not looking for anything to throw at a wall and see if it sticks to support Bird----I hope that's not what I was just accused of. I'm looking at facts and I'm just seeing that when I weigh them according to MY 'criteria'----that Bird is favored over Jordan.

    'Purely theoretical space'? What is that? Is ANY point in this discussion DEVOID of theoretical applications? We have facts, then we have theories on how they should be applied/ weighted in the larger discussion. We have different 'weighting' systems. That's the genesis of our disagreements, IMO (which to me is interesting and fun).

    You asked me if 'making the playoffs without fellow All Stars or playing with limited HOFers' has the SLIGHTEST impact on how we view LB or MJ.

    Yes.

    Obviously, I would want to look more at the circumstances so I could take the facts in proper context and assign weight/ value to them in the larger discussion. I don't completely dismiss facts 'out of hand'. I don't want to assume YOU do-----but it sounds like you might.

  113. Anon Says:

    Sean,

    With the logic that you've been presenting in your posts, you might as well just declare that Scottie Pippen is a greater player than Michael Jordan, because there's really nothing that's preventing you from going that route.

    This is a lively debate, and I respect your opinion. But it's clear that you still haven't grasped the notion that using team win-loss records to directly derive a player's value is not a good idea. I'm not saying you're someone who thinks that Jordan was literally just worth two wins to his Bulls squad (using the '93 and '94 seasons as an example -- and believe me, there are actually people who DO think that way), but just as you suggested in your own post earlier, this is NOT a controlled experiment in a lab. Things CHANGE from season to season, and I think that you're also forgetting that these players supporting casts aren't the same either, which makes a direct comparison using win-loss records even more naive. Something that has always been somewhat lost in looking back at Jordan and the Bulls during the 90s is that Jordan had a pretty awesome supporting cast. Despite the ugly breakup of the Bulls after the '98 season, Reinsdorf and Krause need to get their due credit for building a good TEAM, from their superstar right down to the guys on the bench. So Jordan retires right after the '93 season? Not a problem when Pippen enters his prime as player, Grant steps up his play as well, and they bring in newcomers Steve Kerr, Tony Kukoc and Bill Wellington to provide terrific per minute production. The team was primed from the get-go to still play well without their legendary leader, so it was nothing for MJ to come back and pick up where he left off, and dominate the league to the tune of a second three-peat (it's why in Neil's most dominant playoff teams of all-time, FOUR teams in the top 15 were an MJ-led Bulls team, with the '96 team ranking 3rd in the list. Also, all six of MJ's Bulls finished in the top third of title teams. Compare that with just one of Larry's Celtics title teams and two of Magic's Lakers teams in the top 20). This wasn't MJ and some random collection of players winning here, these were truly great teams at the height of their success. So it might look like to the casual observer that MJ wasn't really all that important to the Bulls (using the misleading win-loss record with and without him as an indicator), when really without him they showed TWO things: how good they were as his supporting cast, and ALSO how valuable HE was as a player since they're weren't NEARLY as historically dominant without him. I think you're overlooking this important point here.

  114. Sean Says:

    Anon Says:
    March 20th, 2010 at 3:40 pm
    Sean,

    With the logic that you've been presenting in your posts, you might as well just declare that Scottie Pippen is a greater player than Michael Jordan, because there's really nothing that's preventing you from going that route.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Pippen doesn't have a body of work (as his own team's alpha)large enough for me to draw a conclusion like that. I would like to see what would have happened if Pippen was the alpha on his own team for the majority of his career... but it never happened. I can't say he was greater than Jordan.

    I sense irritability.

    I don't know why people start getting short and curt because somebody else has a different way of looking at this. Does it BOTHER you that I would rather have Bird?

  115. Sean Says:

    Anon said:

    This is a lively debate, and I respect your opinion. But it's clear that you still haven't grasped the notion that using team win-loss records to directly derive a player's value is not a good idea. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    SEZ YOU.

    Gosh, Anon... I appreciate the ham-handed attempt at diplomacy while still telling me I'm full of horseapples.

    I think completely ignoring the differences in a team's winning with the absence vs presence of a player is turning a blind eye.

  116. Sean Says:

    Anon said:

    Things CHANGE from season to season, and I think that you're also forgetting that these players supporting casts aren't the same either, which makes a direct comparison using win-loss records even more naive.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Things change. In SOME cases, though, they don't change THAT much so as to completely ignore the difference in wins with a player's absence/ presence.

    You want to throw the baby out with the bath water with regards to 'changes in team wins'... I don't.

  117. Sean Says:

    Anon said:
    Something that has always been somewhat lost in looking back at Jordan and the Bulls during the 90s is that Jordan had a pretty awesome supporting cast. Despite the ugly breakup of the Bulls after the '98 season, Reinsdorf and Krause need to get their due credit for building a good TEAM, from their superstar right down to the guys on the bench. So Jordan retires right after the '93 season? Not a problem when Pippen enters his prime as player, Grant steps up his play as well, and they bring in newcomers Steve Kerr, Tony Kukoc and Bill Wellington to provide terrific per minute production.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Why did THAT many players start playing BETTER when Jordan LEFT? Is it all coincidence? No cause and effect whatsoever? The only coincidence that some fans of Jordan being the GOAT seem to downplay is that Jordan's rise to his top level coincided with the 80s ending and (IMO) a new LESSER era beginning in the 90s that he dominated. Everything seems to be a coincidence except that.

    Weren't the 1988 Celtics a good team? Why did they hit the skids in 1989? Coincidence?

  118. Sean Says:

    Anon said:
    Neil's most dominant playoff teams of all-time, FOUR teams in the top 15 were an MJ-led Bulls team, with the '96 team ranking 3rd in the list. Also, all six of MJ's Bulls finished in the top third of title teams. Compare that with just one of Larry's Celtics title teams and two of Magic's Lakers teams in the top 20).>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    And what are these teams measured against? What baseline? Their own league's competition? The 90s IMO was a weaker league than the 80s. That Bird's teams dominated their playoff competition LESS so might just be telling you the competition was BETTER. The Erving/ Moses 76ers.... the Pistons before they got old... the Jabbar and Magic Lakers, etc... I think it's harder to dominate that than Ewing/ Starks or Reggie Miller/ Smits or Kemp/ Payton. JMO.

    And does 'dominant vs in it's own year' mean 'best vs other teams in other years'?

    I don't have the faith in a lot of these metrics that some of you guys do. I don't even know if you're interpreting what Neil's results intended to show.

  119. Anon Says:

    "Why did THAT many players start playing BETTER when Jordan LEFT? Is it all coincidence?"

    Actually, Pippen and Grant's best seasons in their careers came WITH MJ on the team, not without him. I know you want to use the "MJ was a ballhog and didn't allow other players their touches" argument, but this premise falsely assumes that having an uber-efficient player who can carry his team's offense is a bad thing.

    "The only coincidence that some fans of Jordan being the GOAT seem to downplay is that Jordan's rise to his top level coincided with the 80s ending and (IMO) a new LESSER era beginning in the 90s that he dominated."

    Not so. The Bulls title teams often had higher strength-of-schedules than Bird's teams in the 80's, and they still dominated.

    "Weren't the 1988 Celtics a good team? Why did they hit the skids in 1989? Coincidence?"

    Very good indeed, but not great compared to the teams that did win titles. Of course Larry's injury was the main factor, but you're also leaving out two key players who significantly contributed to that team. Danny Ainge only played in 45 games that year and didn't have the kind of season he had in '88 during any other part of his career, along with DJ getting up there in years. His production declined even AFTER Bird returned to play close to a full season in 1990.

  120. Sean Says:

    Jason J Says:
    March 9th, 2010 at 7:14 pm
    This is a great thread, everybody. I don't think I've ever been involved in such a civil, thought-out GOAT discussion online.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Well, seems like we've lost THIS loving feeling.... LOL.

    Look. Maybe I'm too sensitive here---but I'm starting to feel the walls closing in from people who prefer Jordan. You can prefer him all you want. Us disagreeing on what criteria to value more is NO problem.
    I think that the line of decency starts getting crossed when I'm told that I'm 'not grasping the notion' about something----Anon basically just told me that I haven't realized yet that my opinion is lesser because my methods are wrong.

    Jason J earlier told me: "You're working in purely theoretical space now, attributing success to whatever factors you can find to support your idea."

    I can't help but read: You have no basis for what you're saying and you're grasping at straws to prop up a result you want.

    Guys. The arrogance is starting to stink. The bullying, veiled or overt, isn't going to convert me. Information can. Try that. And please stop telling me it's OK to disagree and that you respect my opinion-----then take a hand maul to my opinion and methodolgy right in front of my face.

  121. Sean Says:

    Anon:
    Actually, Pippen and Grant's best seasons in their careers came WITH MJ on the team, not without him. I know you want to use the "MJ was a ballhog and didn't allow other players their touches" argument, but this premise falsely assumes that having an uber-efficient player who can carry his team's offense is a bad thing.>>>>>>>>

    Did they? What was Pippen's best year? 1994?

  122. Sean Says:

    Anon said:

    The Bulls title teams often had higher strength-of-schedules than Bird's teams in the 80's, and they still dominated.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    How would you or anybody know this? Jordan's title teams never played the schedule Bird's teams played. What metric pretends to determine this?

    I mean NOW we're starting to disagree if the 80s were a better era of basketball.

    We may as well just civily admit that we don't see things the same at all------and move on without being insulting.

  123. Anon Says:

    "Did they? What was Pippen's best year? 1994?"

    Nope. 1997, when he posted career highs in just about every advanced stat, along with his usual terrific defense.

  124. Sean Says:

    Anon said:
    Danny Ainge only played in 45 games that year and didn't have the kind of season he had in '88 during any other part of his career, along with DJ getting up there in years. His production declined even AFTER Bird returned to play close to a full season in 1990.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Danny Ainge (with Lohaus?)was traded for front court help (Pinckney and Kleine) about mid season because despite having McHale and Parish, the Celtics sorely missed someone in that frontcourt. I forget his name. DJ was done in 1990? OK.

  125. Sean Says:

    Anon Says:
    March 20th, 2010 at 5:58 pm
    "Did they? What was Pippen's best year? 1994?"

    Nope. 1997, when he posted career highs in just about every advanced stat, along with his usual terrific defense.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Suprise. We'll just have to disagree about Pippen's best year.

  126. Anon Says:

    "And what are these teams measured against? What baseline? Their own league's competition?"

    Yes, and then they're COMPARED to the how the league performs during other seasons. Read the article again carefully.

  127. Sean Says:

    Here's an article from someone who isn't very diplomatic. It's not me----try to get past the nastiness and look at the facts (or what he claims to be fact---Keep in mind I have verified nothing and before we swear to the accuracy of this stuff, we should check it out). The 'anger' in the writing is comical, so enjoy-----just don't dismiss it all out of hand, because it still may be on the money (though again, I have verified nothing, personally).
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    As part of the Jordan legend, he supposedly "willed teams to victory" and took marginal players on his shoulders, and through his 4th quarter heroics, he would help these average players win championships. This is not legend, it is myth. Jordan did have a lot of 4th quarter heroics. That is indisputable. However, his teammates were very good and that is why the Bulls won titles. Wilt Chamberlain dominated far more than Jordan did, but Wilt proved that one man could not win a title. Only when he got teammates around him did he win titles. The same is true of Jordan, only more so, since Jordan wasn't as dominating as Chamberlain, he needed even MORE help in order to win a title.

    1994 and 1995 are key years during the Jordan years. These two years are central in proving that Jordan was not as valuable to his team as the his peers in the elite class of basketball players were to their teams. If he is not as valuable, how can he be the greatest player of all-time? These two seasons will debunk a series of Jordan-based myths:

    Jordan carried the team to 6 championships

    Jordan made those around him better

    Jordan was the most valuable player ever.

    Jordan retired in October of 1993. The critics predicted gloom and doom for the Bulls. (I was one of these critics). Some even declared that without Jordan, the Bulls wouldn't even make the playoffs. After all, Jordan supposedly carried those stiffs to three titles, right? Because Jordan waited so late to retire, the Bulls were not able to pick up an adequate starter in free agency. They settled with Pete Myers from the CBA. They were set up to fail. Myers had a defensive reputation, but no where near that of Jordan, who had been named first-team all-defense 6 times and won the defensive player of the year award. Furthermore, Myeres hadn't even played in the NBA for the last two years, and he never averaged more than 5 points per game. How can you replace Jordan's 32 ppg and all-world defense with this guy? The Bulls were set up to fail. These predictions were also made - and all of them were reasonable assumptions, as you will see.

    The Bulls would be a much worse team without Jordan. They would probably slip at least 15 games.
    If Jordan would come back, the Bulls would automatically win the title.
    Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant would probably score more points, but they would shoot much worse, as defenses focused on them.
    The Bulls would shoot much worse without Jordan.

    Assumption 1: The Bulls would be a much worse team without Jordan. They would probably slip at least 15 games.
    The first assumption was declared by nearly everybody. Even Bulls coach Phil Jackson predicted a 15-game slip in his autobiography, Sacred Hoops. He based this upon the retirement of superstars from the past. Replacing Jordan with Myers should have been detrimental. However, the Bulls only slipped 2 games: from 57-25 with Jordan in 1993 to 55-27 in 1994. How could this be? They should have fallen apart. The answer is that Jordan simply wasn't as instrumental in taking the Bulls to another level as thought. I'm not saying they could win a title without him. He did make them marginally better, but not significantly better. Look at Jordan's elite peers: if you replace Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Bill Russell with a C.B.A. center, do you expect a 2-game drop? No way. If you replace Larry Bird, Oscar Robertson, or Magic Johnson with a C.B.A. player, do you expect a 2-game drop? Think again.

    Why did Phil Jackson predict a 15-game drop? Because he knew the impact that elite players had on their teams. Look at the table below and ask yourself why Jordan's impact was so minimal?

    Year before losing player Year after losing player
    Team Player Regular season Playoffs Regular Season Difference
    (# of wins) Playoffs
    1969 Celtics Bill Russell 48-34 Championship 34-48 -14 Missed playoffs
    1973 Lakers Wilt Chamberlain 60-22 NBA Finals 47-35 -13 Lost in first round 1-4
    1974 Bucks Oscar Robertson 59-23 NBA Finals 38-44 -21 Missed playoffs
    1988 Celtics Larry Bird 57-25 Conference Finals 42-40 -15 Lost in first round 0-3
    1991 Lakers Magic Johnson 58-24 NBA Finals 43-39 -15 Lost in first round 1-3
    1993 Bulls Michael Jordan 57-25 Championship 55-27 -2 Lost in 2nd round 3-4

    To make matters worse, the Bulls lost in the 2nd round of the playoffs to the Knicks in 7 games. In Game 5, Scottie Pippen received one of the most unfavorable calls in playoff history by referee Hue Hollins when he was called for a foul on Knicks' rookie Hubert Davis, that allowed Davis to go to the line and win the game. If you are a real Bulls fan, you'll remember the call. I was cheering for the Knicks in that series, and even I admitted the Bulls got hosed. The Bulls should have won that series. I believe that would have defeated Indiana in the finals. They owned them in the regular season and the Knicks handled the Pacers. I don't think they had any chance of beating the Rockets in the finals without Jordan, but I do believe they could have got there without Jordan. It's all speculating, but it's not unreasonable speculation.

    Assumption 2: If Jordan would come back, the Bulls would automatically win the title.
    This assumption were declared by those in 1995 who said, "the Bulls didn't win the title in 1994, did they?" While Jordan fans claim that he and he alone was single-handedly responsible for the title, they conveniently neglect 1995. Jordan did come back that season. However, the Bulls didn't have Horace Grant (and Dennis Rodman would not join until the next season). Without Grant, their rebounding and interior defense deficiencies were exposed by the Orlando Magic (Horace Grant's team, ironically), and the Bulls lost in the second round 2-4. As you can see in the table above, the previous year, without Jordan, they lost 3-4 in the 2nd round. Now if Jordan were single-handedly responsible for those titles, why did they do even worse in the playoffs after he returned than they did the year before, when they didn't have him?

    How was Orlando able to defeat the Bulls with Jordan in 1995? The answer lies with Horace Grant. He was the key to Johnny Bach's (Bulls assistant coach) "Doberman Defense", as it was called. The trapping defense the Bulls rode to three titles. Grant could trap a player and he was quick enough to fall back and get the rebound. When Jordan retired, the Bulls continued playing their defense and Myers filled in Jordan's role. In 1995, Grant left for Orlando and Chicago was left without a strong interior defender and rebounder. The trapping defense also gone. Bach moved onto Charlotte and the Bulls didn't have a power forward that could make it work. Dickey Simpkins and Corie Blount were not acceptable alternatives. They soft underbelly was exposed, and as anybody knows, you can't win without defense and rebounding. Phil Jackson was so desperate that he even tried Toni Kukoc there, hoping to stretch the defense with Kukoc's shooting, and increase ball movement on offense, but it wasn't enough to overcome their defense and rebounding woes. Jordan did not fill this weakness, and Shaquille O'Neal and Horace Grant were able to expose Chicago and defeat them in the playoffs, and disprove Jordan's "mythical ability to elevate his team to championships."

    Jordan fanatics claim he had court rust. Whatever. Jordan played 17 games that season. In 1986, Jordan played 18 games, coming off of a foot surgery. In the 1986 playoffs Jordan scored a playoff-record 63 points. Why was Jordan able to shake the court rust in 1986 and not in 1995? Answer: he shook his court rust. He dropped in the "double-nickel" (55 point game) on the defending eastern champs that season. If Jordan had court rust, he wouldn't be putting in 55 on John Starks. His game wasn't up to 100%, but it wasn't so far off as to make a difference in a championship and a defeat in the 2nd round of the playoffs.

    Furthermore, Jordan fanatics claim the next year, he shook his supposed court rust and led the Bulls to 72 wins. These people are basketball illiterate. If this were true, why weren't the Bulls winning 72 games in 1991, 92, and 93? Jordan didn't have any court rust then. The reason the Bulls improved was because they filled their weakness with the best player in the NBA FOR that weakness: Dennis Rodman. They lacked rebounding from the power forward spot, so they brought on the greatest rebounding forward in history. They lacked interior defense, so they brought in a 2-time defensive player of the year in Rodman. He was the perfect fit. Grant was a very good player, and he and Jordan's 1992 Bulls won 67 games. But Rodman is better than Grant. Connect the dots. The reason that team improved so much was because of Rodman. Without Grant or Rodman, Jordan simply could not win a championship, because Jordan could not provide interior defense and rebounding. After all, the team really didn't miss him that badly when he retired.

    I have asked Jordan fans to explain over and over why the Bulls only slipped 2 games when they replaced Jordan with Pete Myers. To this day, not a SINGLE ONE, has been able to offer an explanation. The answer is obvious, they just don't want to admit it. Jordan was a great individual player, but he was not as valuable of a TEAM player as those peers of his in the elite category of basketball players.

    Assumption 3: Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant would probably score more points, but they would shoot much worse, as defenses focused on them.
    The third assumption was that Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant would probably score more points, but they would shoot much worse, as defenses focused on them. This appears to be a logical assumption. However, the logic is clearly seen when the hype is peeled away.

    1992-93 (w/ Jordan) 1993-94 (w/o Jordan)
    Name PPG FG% PPG FG%
    Scottie Pippen 18.6 47.3 22.0 49.1
    Horace Grant 13.2 50.8 15.1 52.4

    Assumption 4: The Bulls would shoot much worse without Jordan.
    The fourth assumption is that the Bulls would shoot much worse without Jordan than with him. That is because conventional wisdom says that a player of Jordan’s ability requires extra defensive attention, and that creates open shots for teammates.

    In addition to this, the shooting percentage of the league has declined every year since 1989, so it is only logical to assume that even with Jordan, the shooting percentage of the team would decline, and without him it would greatly decline, correct? Not surprisingly, the Bulls' opponents shot worse (fg% and PPG) in 1994 (no Jordan) than in 1993 (with Jordan). I doubt that Pete Myers was a better defender than Jordan, so this fact only further proves the trend that I just mentioned - teams shot worse each season.

    Well, the Bulls, as an entire team, DID shoot worse. That is because Jordan’s field goal percentage was taken out, and his position was replaced by CBA journeyman Pete Myers, who was known for defense (in other words, a terrible shooter). Furthermore, Toni Kukoc was a poor shooting rookie in 1994 (.431 from the floor and .271 from 3-point range).

    When you factor this out, you find that there were nine players who played with Jordan in 1993 and without him 1994, you see that they actually shot BETTER without Jordan (48.6%) than they did with him (48.2%). As I showed previously, this was also true of the top 2 scorers (Pippen and Grant). In contrast, the 1992 Lakers and the 1989 Celtics saw nearly everyone on the team fall in fg% and ppg, due to the absence of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, respectively. This difference may not seem like much, but remember, Jordan is SUPPOSED to make life easier for teammates, not harder. And the trend in the league was decreased fg% every year. How could this be?

    The short answer is that players like Jordan (ballhogs) do not make those around them better. Jordan has always been more interested in scoring his points than in helping his team - he practically said so himself. If you wan want the long detailed answer, click here.

    Let's look at those 3 myths again:

    Jordan carried the team to 6 championships - As I showed, the Bulls did not suffer greatly when he retired. When he returned, they didn't even make the conference finals, until they replaced their power forward. Compared to Jordan's peers (the short list of the elite players in NBA history), Jordan was the least valuable to his team out of all of them. His impact was felt the least.

    Jordan made those around him better - I proved this collectively by showing that the players who played with him shot better without him.

    Jordan was the most valuable player ever - He simply did not affect the W-L column, or the playoff performance as greatly as the other players that I showed above. This is indisputable. Yes, Jordan has 6 championships, because he played on a very good team...a team that was good enough to win 55 games and go deep into the playoffs without him. I list 7 players (Jordan included), as the "elite" players. Out of these 7 players, guess which player has the most losing seasons in his career? Jordan. Guess which team didn't felt the least loss when he sat out for a season? Jordan's.

    Let me point this out: Jordan joined a losing team in 1984. His first year, they remained a losing team. The next year, they were a losing team. The third year, they posted their 3rd consecutive losing season. During Jordan's first three years, he was not able to make the Bulls into a contender. He couldn't even get them above .500. This man has a legendary "will to win", but can't win? Then, the Bulls add Horace Grant and Scottie Pippen, the next year, and the Bulls put up a winning record and advance another round of the playoffs. The Bulls keep adding players and they keep winning more and more until they win 3 titles. Jordan retires, and the Bulls only slip 2 games. He comes back the next year, and they do WORSE in the playoffs than they did the year before him. After the Bulls add Rodman and win 3 more titles, they disband the team. Two years later, Jordan joins a losing Wizards team. Under Jordan, they remain a losing team both years and fail to make the playoffs each year. He retires again, and the Wizards continue losing the next year.

    Do you see the trend? Jordan joins teams and they don't turn into contenders. They don't even get above .500, even during his second year there. When he leaves, they stay the same. If they are a good team, they continue winning games and if they are a losing team with Jordan, they continue losing games. Jordan doesn't "will" teams to a new level. His impact to the win column is minimal. How, then, can he be the most valuable player ever? I pointed out that over and over in his career that his teams don't go to a new level because of him. If you can't see this, then you are simply ignoring facts.

    There can only be one conclusion from all of this: If he is not the most valuable player ever, then Michael Jordan is NOT the greatest basketball player ever.

    KEEP IN MIND THIS IS NOT MY WORK, BUT SOMEONE ELSE'S. IT'S JUST INFORMATION, FOLKS.

  128. Anon Says:

    "Anon basically just told me that I haven't realized yet that my opinion is lesser because my methods are wrong."

    If we all agreed on this, then this thread wouldn't even exist in the first place. I'm not attacking YOU here, so please don't take this so personally. But I'm not going to sit here and nod my head "yes" if I didn't agree with some of the things you're saying. I don't, and that's why I'm posting.

  129. Sean Says:

    Anon Says:
    March 20th, 2010 at 6:11 pm
    "And what are these teams measured against? What baseline? Their own league's competition?"

    Yes, and then they're COMPARED to the how the league performs during other seasons. Read the article again carefully.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Dominance against your own league is only relative to THOSE teams THAT year. Isn't it?

    Pardon me---and this is my ignorance----how do you compare 'how the league performs during other seasons'? How valid is that? What's the baseline? I'm just asking.

  130. Sean Says:

    I have to say that this unwavering reliance on metrics for some is fascinating. In the end, though, aren't metrics just someone's arbitrary value system manifested into a formula?

  131. Sean Says:

    "Anon basically just told me that I haven't realized yet that my opinion is lesser because my methods are wrong.">>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    If we all agreed on this, then this thread wouldn't even exist in the first place. I'm not attacking YOU here, so please don't take this so personally. But I'm not going to sit here and nod my head "yes" if I didn't agree with some of the things you're saying. I don't, and that's why I'm posting.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Then we just don't agree. What YOU'RE telling me is that I'M WRONG. As if you know. I'm willing to conclude that maybe I DON'T know, so I'm not going to tell someone THEY are wrong. The truth is------you don't 'know', Anon. You THINK. So do I. That's all.

  132. Sean Says:

    HERE IS ANOTHER ARTICLE BY THE 'ANGRY GUY'. ENJOY THE BITTERNES IN HIS TONE---BUT DON'T NECESSARILY DISMISS EVERYTHING BECAUSE HE WRITES LIKE AN ANGRY TROLL. HE MIGHT BE ON THE MONEY----THOUGH I HAVE VERIFIED NOTHING. ENJOY:

    Did Jordan make those around him better?

    To this, the answer is an emphatic "NO!"

    One theory was that Jordan drew so much defensive attention that his teammates got to take wide open shots and benefited from Jordan. It sounds good on paper, but wasn't true in reality. Jordan played in 1993 and retired in 1994. Nine players played on these two teams, and these 9 players, as a whole, shot a higher percentage without Jordan than they did with Jordan, even though the defenses were focusing on them. This was not a fluke. this occurred over the course of 164 games. That is enough to determine a trend.

    Furthermore, this was proven again in 2001, when Jordan joined Washington. Jordan missed a lot of games due to injury, and The Sporting News commented on their surprise that the Wizards shot better in games in which Jordan did not play. This is no surprise. This is a trend.

    Why?

    Guys like Oscar Robertson, Jason Kidd, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson all wanted their team to take the best shot each time down the floor. They had no problems passing the ball to a teammate who had a better shot. That is why their teammates shot such a higher percentage when they played with these guys. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar once said that Magic Johnson knows where your best shot is, even if you do not, and Magic throws the ball in such a way that if you hustle, you will find the ball in your hands for an easy shot that you didn't know was there. That is called "setting up a teammate."

    In Jordan's case, he did not have this mentality. Jordan once said, "I thought of myself first, the team second. I always wanted my teams to be successful. But I wanted to be the main cause." He wanted to be the center of the spotlight. He was selfish to the core. He only wanted to win if it brought praise to him. In his mind, HE had the best shot most of the times down the floor. One time, Bill Cartwright chastised Jordan for not giving up the ball while he was double-teamed. Jordan responded with "but one of the two players was Fred Roberts!" It didn't matter if there was an open teammate, because Jordan thought taking a shot over two guys was better than somebody else taking an uncontested shot.

    Doug Collins tried to put Jordan at the point guard in 1989. The idea was that Jordan was such a tremendous penetrator, that he could break down a defense and hit the open man or score. Jordan responded with 11 triple doubles in his first 13 games. However, he was often found going to the scorers' table to check to see how many rebounds or assists he needed to get a triple-double. He played for stats. Doug Collins later said, "Do you know who's the biggest obstacle to us running? Michael Jordan, that's who. He won't let go of the ball."

    This selfishness resulted in players standing around and watching Jordan, or Jordan not passing to the open guy with the best shot. Without Jordan, the teams flowed into their offense and found the open man. That is why they consistently shoot better when Jordan doesn't play. Jordan simply does not make his teammates better.

    Furthermore, I issued this challenge on Usenet: Name one player whose career was enhanced by Jordan. I never received a serious challenge. Let’s look at some of the candidates.

    Scottie Pippen – The press love to sing long songs about Jordan made Pippen. However, their songs are missing a few verses. For example. Why did Pippen have his finest seasons without Jordan? In 1994, Pippen averaged 22 ppg, 8.7 rpg, and 5.6 apg. In 1995, Pippen became only the second player in history (Dave Cowens was the first) to lead his team in points, rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals. How could he do this without Jordan to make him better?
    Furthermore, when deciding to retire, Jordan said over and over that he would not play without Pippen. While recovering from foot "Why did [Scottie] Pippen have his finest seasons when Jordan was playing baseball?"
    surgery in December of 1997, Pippen said that he was not going to play with the Bulls when he was fully recovered. Jordan said that if he had known this, he would not have come back. Why? If Jordan makes everyone so much better, why not fill in Scott Burrell into Pippen’s position (or Toni Kukoc, for that matter), and make another Pippen? Answer: Jordan didn’t make Pippen. Pippen made Pippen. Without Jordan, he is still the dominating defensive player, and he continues to be a complete player.
    The typical Jordan fan will respond with "how many championships did Pippen win without Jordan?" The answer is zero. Likewise, how many championships did Jordan win without Pippen? Zero. Comparing these two players apart from each is very unfavorable for Jordan. Pippen had a better career record and a better post-season record than Jordan. Pippen's only losing season was his final year in the NBA, when he missed much of the season due to injury and was in a veteran leadership role for the young re-building Bulls. That was the only time in Pippen's career he had a losing record and the only time he missed the playoffs. Jordan played 5 seasons without Pippen. Out of those 5 seasons, he posted 5 losing records, missed the playoffs twice, and was 1-9 in the playoffs.

    Think about it: Jordan never had a winning record apart from Pippen. Pippen played on many playoff teams in Portland and Houston without Jordan.

    It makes you wonder who made who a better ball player, or at least who was the most valuable player to the win-loss column.

    Dennis Rodman – Rodman had established himself LONG before playing with Jordan. His defensive reputation was made in Detroit, where he was voted the Defensive Player of the Year in 1990 and 91. His rebounding ability was established in Detroit, also, where he won the first of his seven consecutive rebounding titles (4 without Jordan), and his reputation as a winner was established in Detroit, where he won two titles – both times defeating Jordan’s Bulls. "Rodman established his rebounding and winning ways in Detroit, when he beat Jordan twice on the way to the championship."

    "If 7 points and 5 rebounds per game is your shining example ofJordan making someone better, than Jordan sucked at improving those around him." Luc Longley – Put simply, Longley was a bad player before he joined the Bulls. He was a bad player when he played with the Bulls, and he was a bad player after he left the Bulls. Nobody has questioned Jason Kidd’s ability to improve his teammates, and even he hasn’t been able to coax out respectable play from Longley. If seven points and 5 rebounds is what you want out of your center, then Longley is your man, but you don’t need Jordan to get this out of him.
    If 7 points and 5 rebounds per game is your shining example of Jordan making someone better, than Jordan sucked at improving those around him. He improved Longley from a laughable joke to a mildly amusing joke. Wow!

    John Paxson – This is the guy that most Jordan fans bring up. Paxson was on the perfect team in Chicago (perhaps the only team he could get significant minutes with), but his career blossomed because of Scottie Pippen, not Jordan. Let me explain:
    Jordan could not play well with classic "drive-and-dish" style points. He disliked playing with Sam Vincent and Steve Colter for this very reason. The reason why was because they were in the lane too much, and Jordan wanted to be the one to drive to the basket. The logical choice would be to have Jordan play the point guard and have a spot-up shooter in the shooting guard slot. However, according to Phil Jackson, Jordan lacked the passing skills to play the point guard and he hogged the ball too much. No one really doubts Jackson's knowledge of the game.
    "Jordan lacked the skills to play point guard and didn't like playing with guards who played the classic point guard role. That means in order for Jordan to play with a spot-up shooter, one of the forwards would have to play the point. Guess who that was?"

    Because Jordan cannot co-exist with a typical point guard and can't play it himself, that means somebody else has to bring up the ball and be the point man. Guess who that was? Scottie Pippen. Pippen was a rare breed in that he was a forward who could handle point duties. That short list consists of Larry Bird, Paul Pressey, Grant Hill, and Pippen. In his book "Sacred Hoops", Jackson lauds Pippen for his ability to run the offense and figure out who is hot and cold and how many shots a player needs and how frequently to stay in his rhythm. These were things that Jordan could not do, because he only cared about his own shots.

    Because Pippen could play the point, that allowed Paxson to play alongside of Jordan, even though he lacked all point guard skills. This means that Jordan did not make Paxson a better player. Pippen did. If not for Pippen, Paxson couldn't have cracked the line-up.

    Just incase you doubt me, and you think you know more than Phil Jackson, ask yourself: how come Chicago with Jordan was the only team at that time NOT to have a point guard? Think about it. When Jordan retired, B.J. Armstrong played a classic point guard role and made his only all-star appearance. When Jordan came back from retirement, the Bulls let Armstrong go in the expansion draft and replaced him with Ron Harper, another 2-guard. Who else teamed up with Jordan in the back court? Craig Hodges, Steve Kerr, Randy Brown, and Jud Buechler. None of these guys could be confused with a point guard.

    Steve Kerr – See John Paxson. This is the exact same case, as Kerr was a Paxson-clone. In 1993, the year before Jordan retired, Kerr was the 12th man on draft lottery-bound Orlando. The next year, he joined the Jordan-less Bulls and had his finest season ever. How could he do this if Jordan made him better?
    Furthermore, Kerr had established himself as one the top 3 point shooter in history and set a record for best 3 point shooting percentage (from 23'9") in a season (1989-90). Considering this, and how he filled in for Mark Price when Price was injured in Cleveland, I ask: what did Jordan do differently for his career? Kerr's game was exactly the same before he joined Chicago. When he joined Chicago, he had his best year, while Jordan was playing baseball,
    "Like Paxson, Kerr blossomed because of Pippen's ability to play the point, allowing the Bulls to play 2 non-point guards. That is why Kerr had his finest seasons in Chicago when Jordan was playing baseball."

    and like Paxson, Kerr got more minutes because of Pippen's ability to play the point role, since Kerr was not a true point guard.

    Washington Wizards – Then, there are the Wizards... if Jordan made those around him better, why couldn't he do this with Larry Hughes, Jerry Stackhouse, and ESPECIALLY Kwame Brown? You should know the answer by now.

  133. Anon Says:

    "Then we just don't agree. What YOU'RE telling me is that I'M WRONG."

    With the evidence that being presented here, yes, you are...not to mention that whoever's posts you're putting up contains several illogical points and misleading information that will need a separate blog post to refute. But I have things to do, and I'm also not going to be baited into a "tit-for-tat" discussion here.

    You win. See ya.

  134. Sean Says:

    Anon Says:
    March 20th, 2010 at 7:04 pm
    Anon says:

    "Then we just don't agree. What YOU'RE telling me is that I'M WRONG."

    With the evidence that being presented here, yes, you are...not to mention that whoever's posts you're putting up contains several illogical points and misleading information that will need a separate blog post to refute. But I have things to do, and I'm also not going to be baited into a "tit-for-tat" discussion here.

    You win. See ya.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    It's never been about 'winning' for me. You're completely lost. There's nothing to 'win'. I came here believing that depending on the criteria you weighed more heavily, that you could make an argument for a number of players to be the GOAT. There really is no winning, because there's no definitive answer as to what universally defines GOAT criteria. That's my opinion, anyway.
    It has become more clear to me, however---that YOU are in this to 'win' (what I have no idea).
    I said that the 'angry guy's' articles had not been verified. I looked at it as fodder. Rather than digest it and discuss it, you get snippy and walk away. This topic obviously ISN'T open for discussion by you. You merely entertain the opportunity to 'straighten somebody out'. And when that doesn't happen, you get chippy and condescending and then you leave.
    The funniest thing you said was that you weren't going to get baited into a tit-for-tat.... mind you're the guy who told ME that I'm still not grasping the notion that I'm wrong.

    You say you've got things to do? Add 'finding some humility' to the list.

  135. Sean Says:

    Just a note: I don't back everything 'Angry Guy' says in his posts/ articles. Some things I disagree with and some other things I just can't verify one way or the other. I do believe some of the stuff that's in there, though.

  136. Sean Says:

    Jason J says:

    Bird never made the playoffs without at least 1 other All-Star on his team. Jordan did it 7 times. Bird never won a title without at least 2 other future Hall of Fame players on his team. Jordan only ever played with one other Hall of Fame level player in his prime (he did play with Parish in his dotage).>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    I looked at this because I found it interesting, Jason. Jordan taking a team to the playoffs 7 times with no other All Stars is a pretty cool stat. I saw that team win totals in the 1st 3 times this happened were 38, 30 and 40. So my enthusiasm is somewhat tempered with them. In 1988, Oakley led the NBA in rebounding---but wasn't an All Star. That's odd to me. Pippen wasn't an All Star in 1989, and perhaps legitimately so------though I have to go back to compare HIS 1989 season to Archibald's in 1980 with the Celtics, when Tiny was the only All Star other than Bird on a 61-win team. Pippen averaged 18p/7r/6a, shot 52%, was 5th in steals and was 2nd Team Defense in 1991---and wasn't an All Star. That's misleading (not by you, just misleading). In 1998, Pippen wasn't an All Star. He played brilliantly----but only for 44 games. Did he miss a lot in the 1st half of the season? I dunno... but Jordan was an All Star in 1986 despite playing only 18 games. Cool stat, Jason. I don't value it as much after looking closer at it, though. JMO.

  137. Jason J Says:

    I actually was trying to point out with the whole "Bird never played w/out All-Stars and Michael did most of his career" argument that it didn't matter to me how good the players' respective casts were, but thanks, Sean. And I'm not by any means trying to stonewall you, I was just trying to find an example of why the reasoning of your arguments wasn't clicking for me. It just feels circumstantial, like a theory trying to be proven through anecdotes, which is one of those things that mathematicians and philosophers teach us not to do but doesn't necessarily mean you aren't right.

    You might like this quote from Steve Kerr in an interview about the 71 win 1996 Bulls:

    "Right from the beginning of training camp he kind of set the tone with his intensity. That whole month of camp was just incredible. Fights were breaking out. Every drill, every game, every scrimmage was just a complete battle. That set the tone for the competitive nature of that team and Michael was responsible for that.

    Michael had put so much pressure on us all year that whatever we faced in the playoffs wasn’t going to bother us. Every practice through all year just continued the intensity, and when you have Michael you pretty much think you’re going to win every game. So he took so much of the pressure off just by being himself."

    That is making your teammates better, almost forcing them to be playoff ready. Magic Johnson didn't teach Byron Scott to shoot. Steve Nash didn't teach Amare to dunk. They just used their own passing skills to set those players up to actually do what they were already good at. Jordan actually taught his teammates to handle pressure by making sure that practices against him were more difficult than games against opponents. Doug Collins (Bulls coach from 1987-1989) credits Jordan with teaching Scottie Pippen the finer points of offense (Scottie was very raw coming out of Central Arkansas). These seem like decent points to make when you consider intangibles and leadership.

    Also of note, Larry Bird, like most of the truly astonishing rookies (David Robinson and Wilt Chamberlain both come to mind in this category and even Tim Duncan as an example of this era), came into the league older than most rookies. He was 23. (Robinson was 24) So while Larry may have been a better rookie (debatable but I agree with you here - his understanding of the game at that time just seems so superior), part of what made him better was being two years older, and part of being two years older was that he broke down physically earlier. Maybe MJ made it up on the back end? He took a couple years to figure out team ball on the NBA level, and it took his team management a little longer than that to build a deep enough team to get to the finals, but while Bird was crippled beyond carrying a team at ages 34 and 35 (I grew up in New England, and went to a few Celts games at the Garden these years, and he was still amazing some nights, but with the back his consistency was gone), Jordan was winning 60+ games a year, titles, MVPs, etc. Coming in at a comparatively advanced age may have given Bird a leg up in the beginning and a major disadvantage at the end.

    Either way I tend to rate players more by their primes than by what they do as rookies or over the age of 33. I look at Michael from 1990-1996 and Larry from 1984-1987 and quite frankly couldn't be happier to have either of them as the best player on my team.

  138. Sean Says:

    Jason J:

    Excellent post. I'd cut and paste to respond to individual points, but on the whole it was so well put------I don't need to. Thanks.

  139. Sean Says:

    Here's 'Angry Guy's' list of GOAT players. I can't argue against Wilt or Oscar---I didn't see them play live when I knew what I was looking at, so I can't judge them. But here is HIS list. Note; I don't even know when he wrote this stuff. ENJOY:
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    How I rank them

    I get asked frequently how I rank the all-time players. It is really irrelevant to this page, but to save myself plenty of e-mails in the future, here it is:

    CRITERIA - I ask Jordan fans to give me the criteria for how they compare any two players. By doing so, you see that somebody is better than Jordan. With that in mind, here is how I judge players.

    It requires speculation, but speculation based on presented facts. Championships are not the determining factor. If Rochester drafts Bill Russell, he doesn't win 11 championships. If the Bulls trade Scottie Pippen for Shawn Kemp and Ricky Pierce in 1995, Michael Jordan doesn't win 3 championships. Championships require front office genius, coaching smarts, luck with injuries, and a break or two.

    My criteria is based on how complete a player is at his position and how he can blend his talents in with teammates. For instance, I look for a center who can play high post and low post. Can dominate on both ends of the floor and the kind of player you can run an offense through. I expect a guard to be able to play either point or shooting guard role. If you drew 11 random names out of a hat and chose a random coach, how good is the player in question able to work with this team? That is my criteria. Like I said, it requires speculation, but it also requires knowledge - something Jordan fanatics lack.

    With that in mind, here I pick the 7 elite players in basketball in history. At this point, I am waiting to determine if Shaq is worthy of this group. Jerry West is on the next tier, so no, I did not forget him:

    #1) Wilt Chamberlain

    Strengths: He could dominate in any center role. He could be the focus of the offense, as he proved in his first 7 years. He could be a high post center that you could run your offense through, as he proved in 1967-68, and he could be the defensive dominator (the "Bill Russell" role) as he proved in 1972-73. He could score like no one in history. He could outmuscle and out jump any center in history. He is one of the two most athletic centers to play the game (Russell being the other). He was the greatest rebounder in history. He is on the short list of best defensive center, and when his role was to focus on that, he arguable did it better than anybody (Russell once said Wilt played his role better than he ever could). He finished in the top 10 in assists 3 times.

    Weaknesses: He was a horrific free throw shooter (although he shot much better in clutch situations). He lacked an unhealthy competitive streak that Jordan and Russell possessed, and he was too sensitive to criticism, not dunking more because he wanted to prove he just wasn't a tall freak.

    Analysis: Wilt played for 7 coaches. He can play in a variety of roles with teammates. He showed he can blend his game and he always elevated his team to a new level. No man can win by himself, but sometimes, Wilt came as close as any man of disproving this. Read my criteria. If you put Wilt with 11 random players, they are going to do very well because he can blend in with a variety of teams.

    #2) Oscar Robertson

    Strengths: The most fundamentally sound player to every play the game. He did everything well. He scored, he rebounded (the only guard to finish in the top 10 in rebounds). He passed (led the league in assists 8 times). From 1962-66, he averaged 30 points, 10 reb, and 10 assts. In 1968, he became the only player in history to lead the league in scoring average, assists per game, and free throw percentage in the same season. He had no weakness and he thoroughly controlled the game. His size (6'5", 220 lbs) is huge in any era. When he joined the Royals, he improved them 14 games. When he joined Milwaukee, he improved them 10 games (from 56 to 66 wins). He possessed supreme leadership on and off the court, where he served as the president of the players union for over 10 years.

    Weaknesses: He had a reputation for getting on teammates when they messed up on fundamentals (such as executing a pick and roll). Some will blame him for not winning more championships, but that was due to poor front office not putting players around him and playing in the era of the Celtics dynasty. He did play on 4 teams with losing records, and had some injury problems later in his career, which resulted in team losses, and could be attributed to his playing extended minutes.

    Analysis: The reason Big O is #2 is that O does all things well, but Wilt dominates in so many fields at a level that nobody can approach, and Wilt could take a bad team farther into the playoffs.

    #3) Larry Bird

    Strengths: Excellent jump shot. Fundamentally sound player. Automatic at the free throw line. The greatest clutch player since Jerry West. Very good team defender (meaning he could play a zone and hide it). His first year, he improved the Celtics 32 games in the win-loss. When he missed 76 games in the 1989 season, Boston replaced him with Reggie Lewis (who was 2nd in most improved player voting), yet the Celtics slipped from 57 wins to 40, despite having Lewis, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish on the roster.

    Weaknesses: His lack of athleticism only affected one area: he wasn't a great on-the-ball defender. His hustle shortened his career and made him injury prone, but you don't condemn a player for diving for balls and sacrificing his body for the team.

    Analysis: If you doubt his ability to improve a random group of players, look at what he did in college - he took a team of no-names to a near perfect season. His first year in the NBA, without McHale and Parish, he turned the Celtics from a 29-win joke to the best record in basketball. When he missed 1989, they fell apart without him. Oscar Robertson is ahead of him because he was more versatile and played better defense.

    #4) Magic Johnson

    Strengths: Unmatched size in a guard. He could see over a defense and post up a guard, creating a match-up nightmare. Probably the best, if not most exciting, point guard on the fast break. He can play a variety of roles. He was a supporting player to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar when he joined the team, and later became the focal point of the offense. He could play fast break and he could play slow-down, as he proved in 1991. He played every position as a rookie in the deciding game 6 of the finals and put up a game for the ages, winning the title without Jabbar.

    Weaknesses: He never was the shooter and scorer that Bird was. He developed a respectable shot from the perimeter, but never the deadly jumper of Bird. His poor decisions off the court shortened his career, which ultimately hurt his team. He was a good, but not dominating defensive player.

    Analysis: Bird and Magic is a comparison that will be debated forever. It is extremely hard to pick between the two. In the end, I go with Bird because of these reasons: Magic could play more positions, but Bird had the more well-rounded game. Each won championships with talented supporting teams, but Bird turned a bad Boston team around immediately. Magic joined a 47 win Lakers team and improved them 13 wins, which wasn't as drastic as Bird's 32 game improvement. Then, there was the feud with Paul Westhead in 1982 and the "Tragic Magic" choke in the 1984 finals. It's one thing to miss a shot, but he pulled a world-class choke in those finals. He made up for it with clutch performances, but comparing Bird and Magic is splitting hairs, and that was a big choke that gave Bird the title, that should have been Magic's.

    #5) Michael Jordan

    Strengths: Dominating scorer. No one was better at creating his own shot. He could attack the basket, pull up for the mid-range jump shot, or post up with a fade away. Legendary clutch plays in the age of prime time televised game were etched in cement. Before his 1993 retirement, he was probably the best defensive guard at roaming the passing lanes and one of the two best on-the-ball defenders at the guard position (I prefer Joe Dumars, but Jordan is at his level). He drew lots of defensive attention and had the ability to hit the open man. He had a rare, if unhealthy, competitive streak, and he dominated 4th quarters line no one.

    Weaknesses: He couldn't play with drive-and-dish point guards, which are on about 95% of the teams. He was too turnover-prone and selfish to play the point guard (according to two of his coaches). He couldn't turn the Bulls and Wizards around like others on this list turned their teams around. When he retired, his impact was less than than the others on this list. Even in college, his team only met their expectations when he played a supporting role. He was extremely selfish - fighting with coaches about his scoring role and teammates who believed his points were more important to him than titles. He never proved his teams could be a big winner without the triangle offense, showing a limited ability to blend his game with different players and systems. If he plays on a team full of scorers, and he HAS to be leading scorer, how is that going to help his team win?

    #6) Bill Russell

    Strengths: Nobody won more than Russell. Winning requires a lot of favorable factors (as I showed at the top), but face it. When Russell was in college, they won 2 championships and 55 straight games, and he didn't play on a powerful team. His first year with the Celtics, they win the title. He won 11 titles in 13 years. The two years he didn't win, they were in the finals (where he got injured) and the conference finals. When he retired, his team failed to make the playoffs. The man had impact! Other strengths: possibly the most athletic center to player the game. Very quick leaper. Excellent timing. Great speed. Not many centers, if any, could run the floor on the break, like Russell. He is regarded by everybody as the greatest defender in history. His timing and leaping made him the greatest shot blocker. Only he mastered the skill of blocking shots to teammates, creating 4 point swings for his team. He finished in the top 10 in assists four times, and finished #2 in career rebounds.

    Weakness: Lacked much in the way of offensive moves. He did average almost 19 per game one season, but he still had a raw game. He was fortunate to play on teams that had great scorers. If not, would he be like a better version of Dikembe Mutombo, who didn't win any titles and rarely made noise in the playoffs? He was also a bit small for a center (about 6'10", 220). No doubt he could beef up in todays game, and if Alonzo Morning can be a 6'10" center, then Russell could also, but would he be able to dominate against bigger men? I don't doubt he would excel in any era, but 11 championships and 5 MVPs? I doubt it. Remember my criteria. If he plays on a strong defensive team with little offense (such as Patrick Ewing's Knicks teams in the mid-90s), I don't think they will do that well because Russell couldn't pour in the points, like Ewing did. He needed help on offense.

    #7) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

    Strengths: The greatest and most unstoppable move in history. Can you think of a big man who you'd rather throw it to at the end of the game when your team is down one point? He also had longevity. At 38 years old, he was the best center in the league and won the finals MVP. As a young player, he looked like the 2nd coming of Wilt Chamberlain. Very good defensive player. He could pass out of the double team and shot free throws better than Russell and Wilt (but don't confuse him with Bird).

    Weaknesses: Kareem had to have a dominating point guard in order to succeed. In Milwaukee, he had Oscar Robertson. when Robertson retired, they went from the NBA finals to a losing record. The next year, Jabbar went to L.A, where he posted another losing record, playing with hall of fame guard Gail Goodrich. His Lakers underachieved, even though he played with Norm Nixon, until Magic Johnson joined the team and made them great. Jabbar was a major player on those teams, but without Magic, they aren't a contender. That is the biggest reason he is #7. If you draw names from a hat, what are the chances of getting Oscar or Magic? Anything less and Kareem's team will struggle. Furthermore, he was an underachieving rebounder when compared to guys like Wilt, Russell, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Nate Thurmond. Wilt led the league in rebounding at the age of 36. Kareem wasn't even the best on his own team at that age, averaging less than 8 per game.

    There you have it. That's how I rank them. I am very consistent with my criteria. Each man has been analyzed and placed. That is irrelevant to this webpage, though. The point is to prove Jordan is not the best. This does not make me a Jordan-hater. I list him as the 5th greatest player in history. So before you send hateful e-mail and tell me that I should respect other opinions, remember - you are writing me. I'm not writing you. If you put Wilt #5, I don't care. Any one of these guys have a good argument for being the best. All I ask is that you tell your criteria for ranking players, and if you are consistent with your method, you will see that somebody probably beats Jordan with your measuring stick.

  140. Jason J Says:

    I'm going to pick this apart real quick:

    "Weaknesses: He couldn't play with drive-and-dish point guards, which are on about 95% of the teams."

    Scottie Pippen was a drive and dish point forward. Michael won 6 titles playing beside him. He also won gold two medals and an NCAA title playing with drive and dish point guards not to mention dominating a ton of All-Star games next to Isiah, Price, and Penny. He was a very good shooter and one of the best wings ever at filling the lane and making good cuts in the half court.

    "He was too turnover-prone and selfish to play the point guard (according to two of his coaches)."

    He played point guard the last two months of the 1989 season and averaged 10 assists to 3 turnovers per game, a better ratio than Magic Johnson. Coach Daly also made him point guard for a game in the Olympics when Magic and Stockton were out with injuries. 12 assists and zero turnovers. According to actual stats.

    "He couldn't turn the Bulls and Wizards around like others on this list turned their teams around."

    He won 6 titles with the Bulls who had never made the finals before he got there. He was 40 years old and had knee problems when he played for the Wizards and they were still on pace to make the playoffs in 2002 before he went out to get knee surgery.

    "When he retired, his impact was less than than the others on this list. Even in college, his team only met their expectations when he played a supporting role. He was extremely selfish - fighting with coaches about his scoring role and teammates who believed his points were more important to him than titles. He never proved his teams could be a big winner without the triangle offense, showing a limited ability to blend his game with different players and systems. If he plays on a team full of scorers, and he HAS to be leading scorer, how is that going to help his team win?"

    All conjecture except the stuff that came when he was a college kid, and even that is complete bunk as he fit into the extremely disciplined team style of coach Dean Smith perfectly and Smith actually admitted that he may have held the team back by limiting Michael's creativity in the offense. But how's this? He blended with two Olympic teams that were completely loaded and completely dominant. He's the only player in All-Star history to ever notch a triple double and did so in a game where he let Glenn Rice be the star and set a record for points scored in a quarter.

    And as for ability to blend his game with different players, here's a quicky from a post I wrote on my blog during this year's HoF celebration:

    Michael’s role on the Bulls changed dramatically over the years. In his youth, he was asked to do pretty much everything. He led the team in assists most seasons, and he played a leading scorer point guard role not unlike what Wade and LeBron have done the past few years. When Phil Jackson took over as head coach and moved Pippen into the point forward position, Michael moved off the ball. He retained significant playmaking duties before his first retirement, but his ability to play without the ball allowed Scottie to maximize his talents and helped to keep the rest of the team involved and motivated. Mr. Jackson apparently knew what he was about. When Jordan came back from retirement he switched from being an occasional post-up guard to a nearly full-time post-up guard. Instead of opening up angles for cutting bigs and perimeter shooters by attacking with the dribble, he drew the defense off balance by taking his defender into the post and creating slashing opportunities for his teammates. The play style, while still utilizing the triangle, was tremendously different, and Jordan’s versatility helped to make it possible.

    http://doubledribble.wordpress.com/2009/09/11/michael-jordan-statistically-speaking/ if you want context

    I think "Angry Guy" was writing about Allen Iverson and accidentally put Michael Jordan's name in that slot.

  141. Sean Says:

    Jason J Says:
    March 22nd, 2010 at 5:02 am
    I'm going to pick this apart real quick:

    "Weaknesses: He couldn't play with drive-and-dish point guards, which are on about 95% of the teams."

    Scottie Pippen was a drive and dish point forward. Michael won 6 titles playing beside him. He also won gold two medals and an NCAA title playing with drive and dish point guards not to mention dominating a ton of All-Star games next to Isiah, Price, and Penny. He was a very good shooter and one of the best wings ever at filling the lane and making good cuts in the half court.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    I don't see why it's a major deal how many of what kind of player is on the court with MJ. That's just part of 'Angry Guy's' criteria. If he could be successful with 4 centers out there-----I just don't see the problem.

    Obviously SOMEONE played 'the point' to some degree on the Bulls---Pippen---and the Bulls' abilities were just maximized, IMO, with 2 shooting guards; a deep shooter (Kerr, Paxson, etc) and Jordan.

    JMO.

  142. Sean Says:

    Part of me wonders if the knocks on Jordan are not tied to whether he COULD do something, but rather WOULD he do something....? Could he pass the ball more maybe than he did, set up teamates more, look to get them 'off' more..... but was he unwilling to do more of this?
    I think about Wilt and Russell and Wilt did win a title playing a role like Russell did on 11 championship teams. He COULD do it. I have wondered before, what if Wilt just did that more often... would it have made a difference in his jewelry collection? I dunno. Just wondering.

  143. Jason J Says:

    You may be right, Sean, but would Jordan passing more have led to increased team success? How much evidence is there to support that theory? He was not able to dump the ball down to Kevin McHale and his 60% FG shooting in the post or run a break with Worthy, Wilkes, and Scott on the wings. He never had any scorer better than Pippen on his team, and Pippen's skills clearly called for him to be the primary ball-handler - the initiator of plays rather than the finisher.

    In '89 when Collins moved him to PG, you can see a direct link to wins based on the health of Craig Hodges. When Hodges was around, a pure shooter for Michael to pass out to as pressure release, the team won. When he wasn't they lost. Except in the playoffs where the team took Detroit to 6 games in the conference finals with Jordan playing the point (and over-dominating the ball the way LeBron does now). Not sure if that was a matter of Pippen getting it together or the team gelling with their new system.

    I will say that I think Jordan, like Wilt, Bryant, and other great scorers, had a tendency early in his career to try to do too much by himself to the detriment of his team, but I'd say by 1990, he had learned that lesson to some extent. I don't know if you recall, but the knock on Jordan in the 80s was always that he wasn't as good as Magic or Larry because he didn't win. So winning became his main focus as the years progressed. After game 7 of the East Conference finals in 1990, Jordan wasn't pleased with himself for having a great game while his team fell apart (Pippen's infamous migraine game - which Jordan forced him to play and probably hurt the team in so doing). He didn't crow about how great he was. He cried in the back of the bus and asked his dad if they could ever win (the next year he embraced the triangle, Detroit got a touch older, and he wound up averaging 30 points w/ 10 assists and winning ring #1).

    The whole "he could have played less selfishly and won more" argument is a little more solid when used with Wilt because he did wind up winning his rings when he scored less in Phili and LA, but both of those teams were stacked with scorers and a little else, so it was imperative that he focus on defense, rebounding, and outlet passing.

    All in all Jordan and all players need to empower their teammates to make decisions and be confident. He took a longer time than Larry or Magic to reach that conclusion, but I don't think there can be an argument that he never reached it.

  144. Sean Says:

    Jason said:

    You may be right, Sean, but would Jordan passing more have led to increased team success? How much evidence is there to support that theory? He was not able to dump the ball down to Kevin McHale and his 60% FG shooting in the post or run a break with Worthy, Wilkes, and Scott on the wings. He never had any scorer better than Pippen on his team, and Pippen's skills clearly called for him to be the primary ball-handler - the initiator of plays rather than the finisher.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    I don't know if more 'Jordan passing' would have led to more team success. Hard to argue with the Bulls' formula in the 90s, regardless. Maybe a different style would have served them better in the 80s.... again... who's to say for sure? As for the McHale comment----this has to be considered, IMO, when we say 'Jordan didn't have a McHale': DID JORDAN WANT A MCHALE? IMO, it's dubious at best. I don't think that MJ had any interest in tending to a low post guy who needed the ball. He had Horace Grant at one time, and although Horace never shot 60%, he did hit on 51, 52, 54, 58%, etc. when he played for the Bulls------WITHOUT Bird tending to him. Maybe Horace shoots 60% as a Celtic. Who's to say? I don't recall definitively WHY Grant left the Bulls. In any event, when they replaced Horace-------it wasn't with a PF who wanted the ball.... EVER. LOL. And I'm not sure the types of centers the Bulls kept signing were all by accident... the Wennington-types. They were big, they had 6 fouls to give and they got out of the way, so neither they or the opponent's center would be near the lane when MJ wanted to drive or post up on the block and dish to cutters. I believe that Michael had some say in who the team went after, personnel-wise, too. JMO. I recall a story where Bill Walton called Red Auerbach in 1985 to try to get on the Celtics----Auerbach was about to rebuff him and Bird (who was in Red's office at the time) changed Red's mind. I think MJ probably had a say in who the Bulls were getting/ going after. JMO.

  145. Sean Says:

    Jason J said:

    So winning became his main focus as the years progressed.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    I'm looking hard at that sentence. If this is TRUE....I'm finding it to be VERY problematic for me with GOAT accolades on the line. You were talking about 1990-or-so, which would be Jordan's 6th year in the league. Almost halfway into his Bulls career----winning became his main focus. That just sounds bad.

  146. Sean Says:

    Jason J said:

    All in all Jordan and all players need to empower their teammates to make decisions and be confident. He took a longer time than Larry or Magic to reach that conclusion, but I don't think there can be an argument that he never reached it.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    I read an article from 1994 in the LA Times (if I locate it, I'll copy it here).... Jordan was talking about why he retired (the 1st time). He was saying he was tired of teamates complaining of his preferential treatment and how the other guys on the team didn't appreciate all that he was doing for them and all the times he had to carry them and come from behind for them... he said something like Pippen was doing a good job carrying the team earlier in the 1994 season, but then he wasn't at the end of the season... and now Scottie knows how hard it is, etc. Didn't the Bulls, with Pete Myers in the starting lineup instead of Jordan just win 55 games that year?

    This does not sound like it was coming from a man who understood TEAM and confidence in teamates... the idea that he was still immersed in the idea of one guy carrying a team. It just didn't sound like a guy who 'got it' yet 'like Larry and Magic'... and that was 1994. Maybe he 'got it' in 1996 thru 1998?

  147. Sean Says:

    I just want to say how much I enjoy talking about this. There's only one guy who I want to convince of something--------and that's ME. I'm here to test my own opinion. I know that everyone here has their own opinion(s) and that they likely weren't formed haphazardly. They likely took some time and effort to from... and nobody's opinion is going to flip. For me, I like to suck up all the information that is being supplied, check it out-----and let it marinate. After a while----usually a loooong while, if certain things make sense, they beging to get traction for me. MY opinions are evolving as I process more information and insight. I think the only way to be comfortable with one's own opinions, one must challenge them---------and I want to thank people here for challenging them with questions and information. I hope we can continue.

    There was a time when I LOATHED Bird. I did not cheer him for winning any of his championships. I pulled for Moses and Olajuwon and Sampson and the Lakers. I even pulled for the Pistons. I constantly tried to discredit Bird----I was in my teens back then and I played basketball and I thought other players were just 'cooler'. But the more I saw, the less ammo I had. By the 1987 Finals, I finally began to respect the man. I think the unfortunate comments by Isiah Thomas and Dennis Rodman were a catalyst. Then, the next year, when McHale made a point to shake everybody's hand after the Pistons had beaten the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals---and tell them 'you can win... you're good enough'.... I had so much respect for that Celtics team. I remember the Pistons walking off the court without shaking any Bulls' hands after the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals.... it was disgraceful. How many disgraceful things has Isiah Thomas been in the middle of? I've lost a ton of respect for him over the years. I can separate his greatness in the game of basketball from his character as a man, but it's tough.

  148. Jason J Says:

    See now Sean, your comments on Horace Grant / Kevin McHale really stand out to me as someone who either hasn't seen the players we're discussing play or doesn't believe that skills matter at all, which I can't understand.

    Throughout his career, regardless of what team he played on (and he played on a lot) Grant did his scoring primarily three ways: finishing on cuts to the rim (was very good at this with Jordan and Penny who could draw double teams at the foul line and create space un

  149. Jason J Says:

    whoops - continued:

    Throughout his career, regardless of what team he played on (and he played on a lot) Grant did his scoring primarily three ways: finishing on cuts to the rim (was very good at this with Jordan and Penny who could draw double teams at the foul line and create space under the rim, on open jump shots from about 15 feet (generally pick and pops with MJ, Scottie, Penny, or Payton or kick outs from Shaq), and of course by offensive rebounding, which was his greatest offensive skill. He had a little bit of post game with a decent jump hook, but he took forever to get it off and had trouble doing much of anything in traffic. He shot a high percentage because he took shots he could make and rarely took difficult shots or shots he had to create for himself.

    McHale was one of the great masters of low-post scoring ever. This is not really open to debate. He had counter move after counter move. He could face up and hit a j to keep the d, and he had great hands and made smart cuts to be on the receiving end of Larry's spiffy passes, but McHale's shooting wasn't about his teammates drawing attention and getting him open looks, it was about him punishing post defenders. Bird used to get mad at McHale for not shooting more because he was so unguardable on the blocks.

    This difference is significant. Larry Bird having a lower usage percentage than Michael Jordan did not magically make McHale a better low post scorer, and it would not magically make Horace Grant a better low post scorer either. Actual ability in a player is not determined by who is in the locker room with him. The team may play better with different chemistry and leadership, but actual ability is not impacted unless a player takes a special interest in a teammate and instructs him in practice like Jordan did with Pippen and Robinson did with Duncan.

    As to who they replaced Horace Grant with and whether Jordan wanted low post scorers on his team, if I recall the player he really wanted was Juwon Howard, a primary low post scorer. They got Rodman because he was perfect for the team and available for a ludicrous trade for Will Perdue because he had worn out his welcome in San Antonio , and they won a ridiculous number of games and 3 titles. Who should they have traded for? Any serious scoring prospect would have cost them a major piece, and Pippen and Jordan were the only major pieces left. Previously they traded away Charles Oakley to take Bill Cartwright and give more minutes to Grant specifically because they thought Oakley had peaked as an offensive threat and that Grant, with his superior athleticism could become better - surely it wasn't because Grant was the better rebounder or defender, not in 1988.

    Cartwright of course was known as a terrific low post scorer, and the season before Phil put in the triangle, while Jordan was playing point guard and making the on court decisions, Cartwright received by far his most scoring opportunities and averaged his highest points per game as a Bull. That's not Jordan refusing to pass to Cartwright in the post. Bill's points jumped up when he got to Chicago actually. The Bulls also picked up Stacy King and Toni Kukoc to play the 4 off the bench neither of whom could defend or rebound but both of whom were scoring threats, King in the post and Toni everywhere.

    For the record, Grant left while Jordan was retired, because he hated management for favoring Jordan and Pippen and wanted to be a primary offensive weapon. He went onto never have a better offensive season than he did 1992 using PER as the measure. They did hate each other though - Grant was very envious that Jordan got preferential treatment from management, the same treatment that Bird got but McHale didn't care about - and don't think everything was hunky dory over there either - read the new book by Bird and Magic written by Jackie McCullen. Larry was gruff and combative and big drinker (he didn't peak until his drinking buddies left the team), and he and Kevin had troubles too. The difference being there was no Sam Smith to write The Bird Rules, bringing it public and intensifying the problems. For his part Jordan rode Grant hard for being slow picking up the triangle and for complaining about not being treated the same way as MJ and Scottie by Phil and management.

    Again, I think we differ on the importance of coming out of the gate as a complete player when it comes to GOAT. To me a player who gives you 7 years as the undisputed best player in the league, never fails to make the conference finals in that time, and wins 6 rings can be forgiven for not quite getting it right away. I also think that this:

    "He was saying he was tired of teamates complaining of his preferential treatment and how the other guys on the team didn't appreciate all that he was doing for them and all the times he had to carry them and come from behind for them... he said something like Pippen was doing a good job carrying the team earlier in the 1994 season, but then he wasn't at the end of the season... and now Scottie knows how hard it is, etc. Didn't the Bulls, with Pete Myers in the starting lineup instead of Jordan just win 55 games that year?"

    sounds like an athlete who considered it his job to turn around a franchise, who always wanted to win more than his teammates and had to push everyone to work as hard as he did, who was in touch with a few Bulls that season, one of whom was Pippen, was probably just saying what he felt and making an ass out of himself because he's not the least bit tactful, particularly when filtered through the memory of someone trying to find a way to denigrate him. Bird and Magic used to tear into their teammates too. Larry called the team a bunch of pansies in the press. Garnett has done the same.

    For the record I always loved Larry Bird, and have spent an inordinate amount of time singing his praises myself. I'm just still differing on the criteria of GOAT and some of the specifics I'm seeing used to say why Jordan, whom teammates like BJ Armstrong, Ron Harper, Scottie Pippen, and Steve Kerr all considered a great leader and the best ever, didn't understand how to win team basketball.

  150. Sean Says:

    Jason J said:
    See now Sean, your comments on Horace Grant / Kevin McHale really stand out to me as someone who either hasn't seen the players we're discussing play or doesn't believe that skills matter at all, which I can't understand.>>>>>>>>

    Ah. I see we're back to the condescending comments. VERY unimpressive, btw. Yes, I saw them play and I DO believe that skills matter.

    What makes you resort to the nasty, non-productive thinly veiled insults? I had been thinking they were beneath you.

    I believe if you check what I actually said without injecting your own details---then attributing them to me---was that Horace Grant was a low post guy who needed the ball. It's a fairly harmless statement about a guy who was a power forward that wanted more shots.

    How 'bout we stick to what I actually said about Horace Grant and not stoop to 'creating drama' by attributing misrepresented positions to me?

    Either that, or I can just insult you back. Lemme know.

  151. Sean Says:

    Throughout his career, regardless of what team he played on (and he played on a lot) Jason J said:
    Grant did his scoring primarily three ways: finishing on cuts to the rim (was very good at this with Jordan and Penny who could draw double teams at the foul line and create space under the rim, on open jump shots from about 15 feet (generally pick and pops with MJ, Scottie, Penny, or Payton or kick outs from Shaq), and of course by offensive rebounding, which was his greatest offensive skill. He had a little bit of post game with a decent jump hook, but he took forever to get it off and had trouble doing much of anything in traffic. He shot a high percentage because he took shots he could make and rarely took difficult shots or shots he had to create for himself.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Grant had 4.4 off reb per game in 1993.... same in 1994. He shot more times per game---and at a better clip without Jordan in 1994 than in 1993 with him. SOMEHOW he was getting the ball more times (12.5 vs 10.8 shots per game) without an increase in offensive rebounding. He also shot .524 in 1994 vs .508 in 1993. She he shot more and shot better in 1994---with no Jordan. I wonder.

  152. Sean Says:

    Jason J said:
    Actual ability in a player is not determined by who is in the locker room with him. The team may play better with different chemistry and leadership, but actual ability is not impacted unless a player takes a special interest in a teammate and instructs him in practice like Jordan did with Pippen and Robinson did with Duncan.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    And is it ALL actual ability, Jason? Really? There aren't guys who tend to teamates better and get them better/ easier shots?

  153. Sean Says:

    Jason J said:
    As to who they replaced Horace Grant with and whether Jordan wanted low post scorers on his team, if I recall the player he really wanted was Juwon Howard, a primary low post scorer. They got Rodman because he was perfect for the team and available for a ludicrous trade for Will Perdue because he had worn out his welcome in San Antonio , and they won a ridiculous number of games and 3 titles.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Rodman was Jordan's dream PF. A lap dog to fetch the ball who required ZERO touches.

    Jasom J said:
    Who should they have traded for? Any serious scoring prospect would have cost them a major piece, and Pippen and Jordan were the only major pieces left. Previously they traded away Charles Oakley to take Bill Cartwright and give more minutes to Grant specifically because they thought Oakley had peaked as an offensive threat and that Grant, with his superior athleticism could become better - surely it wasn't because Grant was the better rebounder or defender, not in 1988.>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    How does anyone get a PF who demands the ball, Jason? Was this area just a blind spot in an otherwise genius Bulls front office, that they couldn't get a PF for Jordan that he REALLY wanted? I think he REALLY wanted one just like Rodman.

  154. Sean Says:

    Jason J said:
    Cartwright of course was known as a terrific low post scorer, and the season before Phil put in the triangle, while Jordan was playing point guard and making the on court decisions, Cartwright received by far his most scoring opportunities and averaged his highest points per game as a Bull. That's not Jordan refusing to pass to Cartwright in the post. Bill's points jumped up when he got to Chicago actually.>>>>>>>>>

    Cartwright averaged 9.8 FGA per game in 1989---his high as a Bull. Is this really an example of feeding a 'terrific low post scorer' (your words)? McHale was averaging 13-14 FGA per game off the bench before he developed his full arsenal and 17 FGA per game at the height of his career. THAT'S how other people tend to their 'terrific low post scorer'. (And please don't now go and say I said Cartwright was McHale and then insult me for it. McHale was known as Boston's low post scorer---and he was terrific. You said Cartwright was known as a terrific low post scorer yourself).

    Cartwright DID start in 72 more games the season he came over to the Bulls and he averaged about 9.5 minutes more per game. He shot about 70 points WORSE and averaged just 1.3 ppg more depsite increasing playing time by almost 50%. Now WHY did all this happen?

    Cartwright, the 'terrific low post scorer' that he was averaged 55%, 55%, 56%, 57%, 56%, 53% and 54% from the field as a Knick (all of his Knick seasons where he played more than 2 games). The only season he shot as well as 50% on the Bulls was the (yup, you guessed it) year Jordan WASN'T there (1994).

    Jordan just has to be the world's unluckiest SOB, I guess. He goes and they get more shots and shoot better........ but of course none of it is connected.

  155. Sean Says:

    Jason J said:
    They did hate each other though - Grant was very envious that Jordan got preferential treatment from management, the same treatment that Bird got but McHale didn't care about - and don't think everything was hunky dory over there either - read the new book by Bird and Magic written by Jackie McCullen. Larry was gruff and combative and big drinker (he didn't peak until his drinking buddies left the team), and he and Kevin had troubles too. The difference being there was no Sam Smith to write The Bird Rules, bringing it public and intensifying the problems. For his part Jordan rode Grant hard for being slow picking up the triangle and for complaining about not being treated the same way as MJ and Scottie by Phil and management.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    I believe I read that in 1990 or maybe 1991, McHale was critical of Bird shooting too much. It wasn't always strawberries and cream over there-----but Bird was also a diminished player and McHale was probably right... Bird might have been shooting too much at the clip he was making them.

  156. Sean Says:

    Jason J said:
    Again, I think we differ on the importance of coming out of the gate as a complete player when it comes to GOAT. To me a player who gives you 7 years as the undisputed best player in the league, never fails to make the conference finals in that time, and wins 6 rings can be forgiven for not quite getting it right away. >>>>>>>>>

    Let's not sugar coat it. It wasn't that Jordan wasn't 'quite getting it right away'..... you wrote "I'd say by 1990, he had learned that lesson to some extent". That's 6 years in. SIX.

  157. Sean Says:

    I also think that this:

    "He was saying he was tired of teamates complaining of his preferential treatment and how the other guys on the team didn't appreciate all that he was doing for them and all the times he had to carry them and come from behind for them... he said something like Pippen was doing a good job carrying the team earlier in the 1994 season, but then he wasn't at the end of the season... and now Scottie knows how hard it is, etc. Didn't the Bulls, with Pete Myers in the starting lineup instead of Jordan just win 55 games that year?"
    Jason J said:
    sounds like an athlete who considered it his job to turn around a franchise, who always wanted to win more than his teammates and had to push everyone to work as hard as he did, who was in touch with a few Bulls that season, one of whom was Pippen, was probably just saying what he felt and making an ass out of himself because he's not the least bit tactful, particularly when filtered through the memory of someone trying to find a way to denigrate him.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    You're misunderstanding. The LA Times printed that column on July 30th, 1994. These were quotes made by Jordan about the season that had JUST ENDED for a team he wasn't even on anymore. He wasn't turning around a franchise anymore on a team full of guys who didn't want to win. The team just won 55 games without him. It wasn't 1985 or even 1988 when he said this------and nobody had a memory that was fuzzy. The AP quoted him from a recent interview.

  158. Sean Says:

    Jason J said:

    I'm just still differing on the criteria of GOAT and some of the specifics I'm seeing used to say why Jordan, whom teammates like BJ Armstrong, Ron Harper, Scottie Pippen, and Steve Kerr all considered a great leader and the best ever, didn't understand how to win team basketball.>>>>>>>>>

    Jordan at least as late as 1994 was still referring to what he did on the Bulls as 'carrying them' and 'bailing them out'.... these are HIS words. In 1994, im Jordan's mind-----it was still HIM and THEM.

  159. Sean Says:

    Jason J said:
    Actual ability in a player is not determined by who is in the locker room with him. The team may play better with different chemistry and leadership, but actual ability is not impacted unless a player takes a special interest in a teammate and instructs him in practice like Jordan did with Pippen and Robinson did with Duncan.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    And is it ALL actual ability, Jason? Really? There aren't guys who tend to teamates better and get them better/ easier shots?

    Also I'll add that McHale shot .604 with 2.5 off reb/ game in 1988 with Bird... and .546 with 2.9 off reb/ game in 1989 without Bird. No Bird/ more off rebs/ shot worse in 1989. And McHale was healthier in 1989. Bird not being there have ANY effect on McHale's FG%? Nah.... it's all about McHale's ability and not at all about anything Bird did. These fluctuations with Bird and Jordan are just crazy coincidences.

  160. Sean Says:

    Jason J said:
    Bird and Magic used to tear into their teammates too. Larry called the team a bunch of pansies in the press. Garnett has done the same.>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Bird called his teamates (and he may have included himself in there) as sissies back in the 1984 Finals to motivate them. They responded. Jordan was retired. For a year. He was still talking about how he bailed the Bulls out and how he carried them-----who was he motivating during what series with that?

    Regardless, the point was to illustrate that even as late as 1994------it was still HIM and THEM for Jordan.

  161. Sean Says:

    Here's that Jordan LA Times/ AP/ NY Post interview article from 1994:
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Jordan Gets His First Good Cuts of the Season

    Basketball: He rips Pippen and Grant but says he won't come back.

    July 30, 1994|From Associated Press

    NEW YORK — Michael Jordan ripped former Chicago Bull teammates Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant and said he could average 32 points after only two weeks of preparation if he decided to come back to the NBA.

    In an interview published Friday by the New York Post, Jordan said pride prevents him from even considering an NBA comeback, though, because "I'd never want the media to think they were right."

    The three-time most valuable player, who retired from the Bulls before last season to pursue a professional baseball career, spoke after his Birmingham Barons lost, 3-2, in 10 innings to the Orlando Cubs on Tuesday night.

    Jordan, whose father, James, was murdered on July 23, 1993, said his father's death had no bearing on his retirement.

    "I had totally lost interest," he said, adding he told teammates of his plans in the second half of his last season. "I knew I had to give it up."

    Then, speaking about Pippen and Grant, Jordan said his father encouraged him "all that season" to retire because "he felt my teammates didn't appreciate what I was doing for them.

    "I covered their (butts) when they got tight at the end of games and I had to overcome fourth-quarter deficits all by myself. It bothered my father a lot, just as it bothered me, to hear them (complaining) about not getting enough credit, or not getting enough shots, or squawking about the supposed preferential treatment I was getting from (Coach) Phil (Jackson).

    "They had no idea how much pressure and grief I had to put up with off the court while carrying them on the court.

    "Scottie found out the hard way what it's like to be under the microscope 24 hours a day. For the first half of the season he did great carrying the team; the second half not so great."

    Then, referring to Pippen's refusal to play the final seconds of a playoff game against the New York Knicks because he was to be a decoy on the play while Tony Kukoc took the final shot, Jordan said Pippen made a big mistake.

    "I don't think he'll ever live that down," Jordan said.

    Although Jordan has a .188 batting average and 10 errors in right field for Birmingham, he said he still "can't come up with a single reason to change my mind" about returning to basketball.

    Then he came up with one.

    Noting that Reggie Miller said recently that Dream Team II is better than the first Dream Team of Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, Jordan said he would love to play a charity game matching the teams.

    "Those guys are on the right team, because they're definitely dreaming," he said. "Not only was Dream Team I better, but we could beat them right now."
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    This just doesn't sound like a guy who 'got it' regarding TEAM... as least not as of the date of this interview in 1994. So when DID he 'get it'?

    1996? That's a little S----L----O----W......... if you ask me. That's covering like 3 different Presidential administrations.

  162. Sean Says:

    Here's the main part that makes me question if Jordan 'got it' regarding TEAM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    "I covered their (butts) when they got tight at the end of games and I had to overcome fourth-quarter deficits all by myself. It bothered my father a lot, just as it bothered me, to hear them (complaining) about not getting enough credit, or not getting enough shots, or squawking about the supposed preferential treatment I was getting from (Coach) Phil (Jackson).

    "They had no idea how much pressure and grief I had to put up with off the court while carrying them on the court.

    "Scottie found out the hard way what it's like to be under the microscope 24 hours a day. For the first half of the season he did great carrying the team; the second half not so great."
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Not a real good supporting piece for an argument that he DID 'get it', if you ask me.

  163. Allen Says:

    A couple other things to consider about the early Bucks of the 1970s. 1) It should improve the legacy of Kareem. Oscar was on the team, but way past his prime. Bobby Dandridge was the other great player, but certainly not a superstar. Can you think of any superstar who did more with less? I mean, Lew singlehandedly improved that team from 28 wins to 56 wins (I think) his rookie year 2) The 1970 Bucks team shot over 50%. The TEAM shot over 50%. Think of that. 3) The Bucks drafted Julius Erving in the first round. He had already been plucked from college by the ABA as the league's first "hardship" case. Bucks drafted him in what would have been his graduating class. If the team had been able to wrangle him away, well, you'd have Dr. J and Kareem and Oscar and Dandridge on the same team. It would be fair to say that team would have won more than one championship.

  164. Michael Says:

    Russell and Chamberlin would easly average at least 18 rebounds in today's NBA. back in the day rebounding was consider a very glamorous skill, not a somewhat grunt skill as it is now. Wilt, Russell, Jerry Lucas, Walt Belamy, Nat Thurmond, Willis Reed, Elgin Baylor were horses on the boards. Even Oscar was rebounding big time from the guard position. Remember Wilt and Russell were track guys, good all-around athletes. And the thing about Russell is that he had uncanny timing, blocking shots and intercepting passes with his left hand. Also Wilt gets a bum rap as far as the 1970's finals goes. He was playing practially on one leg just like Reed. He had missed most of the regular season that year. i think he played only in `12 games. He had injured his leg the previous year in the 1969 finals against Boston and was never really quite the same.

  165. Big Legend Says:

    Just talking Chamberlain here. Some of you have no clue. This guy was a legit 7'1" and 275lbs with unmatched athletic ability - WORLD CLASS. You are talking about a guy with Garnett type athletic ability at 7'1" and 275lbs. Shaq of course was often compared to Wilt, not in his class as an athlete or basketball player. Chamberlain came to the Lakers as a dominating scorer and then changed his style to benefit his new team and led the league in assists - remarkable and one of the top 5 sports feats of all time - Wilt doesn't get enough credit for this - REMARKABLE!

    BL