The best ever?
With 6 titles in 8 years, where do the Bulls rank among the great NBA dynasties?
Posted: Wednesday March 17, 1999 09:17 PM
Six fingers for six titles, but will there be a seventh? Matthew Stockman/Allsport
ATLANTA (CNN/SI) -- In 1984, the Chicago Bulls selected Michael Jordan with the
third selection in the NBA draft. By the 1990's, Jordan was rarely anything
other than number one.
More than that, Jordan lifted the Bulls to dynasty status. Only his
near-two season baseball hiatus kept the Bulls from a possible eight
consecutive NBA crowns.
As it stands, the Bulls domination draws comparison to some of the all-time
sports strangleholds. John Wooden's UCLA Bruins, who set the standard for
college basketball, won 10 titles in 12 years for the Wizard of Westwood.
Casey Stengel's New York Yankees, who won seven World Series -- including
five in a row -- beginning in 1949. Heavyweight Joe Louis ruled the boxing
world with an iron fist for nearly 12 years. The Boston Celtics won 11
of 13 championships from 1957-69.
Yes, those Boston teams had more titles, but a smaller league meant the
Celtics of yesterday had to play only two series to win it all compared to
a more grueling four series trek today. Not even the mighty green could
match the Bulls two-season record of 141-23 between 1996 and '97.
"I think they are playing in a vastly watered down league," said Celtics
great Bob Cousy. "I think the Celtics of our era were the best professional
sports team that has ever been assembled, and their record frankly will
never be matched. We did it at a time when it was much more difficult to
do. That unit that I was a part of for six years won 11 championships in 13
years. Put that in perspective it was 20 years before a team even won it
back to back."
Lenny Wilkens, head coach of the Atlanta Hawks, has a
different take on the matter.
"I played against the Celtics when Russell was a player. That was a great
dynasty at that time, but this is even more special. The reason I think so
is there is so many more teams and many more opportunities to get beat than
there was back then."
While recognizing the Bulls as one of the all time great teams, don't
forget the one aspect that literally changed the face of sports ... free
agency. Great dynasties kept players together for entire careers. Michael
Jordan has played with 28 different teammates during his championship runs
-- many of who wouldn't boast of a title without their ringleader.
"The thing I found out was when we won, it was from one through 12, we all
won," said John Paxson, who sank the championship winning shot against the
Phoenix Suns in 1993.
"We all were rewarded financially, we all go the benefit of being labeled a
champion. That is a hard concept to get across to people, so I think that
you need those types of people who can understand that going in and that
truly makes a successful team."
The Bulls greatest impact, and Jordan's undeniable, unmatched stamp on the
game and professional sports is money. From the Bulls team growing more
than 1,000 percent in value since his arrival, to billion dollar television
rights fees, to Jordan the pitchman, Jordan the movie actor ... no athlete
comes close to the economic impact of the small-town kid from North
"Michael Jordan has taken basketball to heights we never thought it would
go," said Isiah Thomas, who won back-to-back NBA titles with the Detroit Pistons in 1990
and 1991. "When Magic [Johnson] and [Larry] Bird were here in the 80's, we
thought we were the pinnacle of success. To think that we would settle for
so much less, because Jordan has taken this game internationally and made
it bigger than any of us dreamed. So when you take all of that into the
picture, and you look at the great teams and personalities, you have to
talk about this Bulls team."
Like all great runs, only time cannot be conquered and inner forces seem
determined to break up the Bulls.
League officials, players and fans wonder if the NBA can move on without
its most popular attraction. Many questions remain as the NBA pushes into
the new millenium wanting more from a team and a player who have given
everything they had.