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Sunday, September 18, 2011

New NBA 2K12 Trailer Features Michael Jordan's Selections for Top Six All-Time Teams

Michael Jordan is obviously not an entirely objective observer regarding the subject of the greatest NBA teams of all-time but many people would at least agree with his top choice:

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posted by David Friedman @ 12:36 AM



At Tuesday, September 20, 2011 8:02:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Although I don't know enough to really disagree with Jordan, this does remind of of some anecdotes from Bill Simmons' "Book of Basketball." Simmons pointed out a few extenuating factors particular to that season which worked in Chicago's favor.

I can't remember all of them, but the one salient point that stuck out to me was that the 1995-96 season was a post-expansion year, meaning almost every team had their talent diluted. The Bulls on the other hand acquired a rebound munching/lockdown defensive forward.

Then again, a lot of what Bill Simmons does is a roundabout way of praising the Celtics. Not coincidentally, his nomination for the "Greatest Team of All Time," was Boston's 86 squad.

I also have a hard time taking someone seriously when they claim to have fixed all factual errors from the hardcover edition, yet I noticed at least 4 or 5 of them (which means there are probably other mistakes as well). Then again, when you're being edited by ESPN, where there are next to no journalistic standards, its not so surprising. Still makes for an entertaining read, overall.

What's your pick for the greatest team of all time, Dave?

At Wednesday, September 21, 2011 2:31:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


When the NBA issued honors in connection with the league's 35th Anniversary (a precursor to the famous list of 50 Greatest Players) the 1967 76ers were voted as the greatest team of all-time. Wilt Chamberlain, who played against the great Celtics teams and on both the 1967 76ers and the 1972 Lakers team that won a record 33 straight games, consistently said that the 1967 76ers team was the greatest. If we accept the earlier historical consensus that the 1967 76ers were the greatest single season team prior to 1981 then the question becomes whether or not a single season team from 1982-2011 was better than the 1967 76ers. The Lakers, Celtics, Bulls and then the Lakers again all had great runs between 1982-2011 but the best single season teams of that era were probably the 1983 76ers and the 1996 Bulls; those were the two teams that really seemed to be trying to win every single game, with no off nights. The 1983 76ers backed off the chase for 70 wins when Moses Malone had some balky knees late in the season but then they went 12-1 in the playoffs. The 1996 Bulls went 72-10 and if Ron Harper had not gotten injured during the Finals they probably would have gone 15-1 (instead of 15-3) in the playoffs. Picking one single greatest team is obviously highly subjective but my short list would include the 1967 76ers, the 1983 76ers and the 1996 Bulls.

Bill Russell's Celtics are clearly the greatest dynasty in the sport's history but on a year to year basis most of those teams were not overwhelmingly dominant; only three times did Russell's teams post a regular season winning percentage of at least .750 (which is equivalent to 61.5 wins in an 82 game season).

At Wednesday, September 21, 2011 10:31:00 AM, Blogger Matt said...

My problems are not so much with the factual errors as with the often faulty,arbitrary reasoning, which I can elaborate on if need be. (I say this as someone who enjoyed the book greatly. But then I AM a junkie.)

At Wednesday, September 21, 2011 12:26:00 PM, Blogger Matt said...

This video featuring Dr. J, Magic and Bird should be somewhat helpful to this discussion :


If we're talking about teams which seemed like it was trying to win every night, won't the 2008 Celtics qualify as well? (Of course their playoff record hurt them but hey they did win 66 games.)

If we broaden the criteria to include talent,depth and flexibility, then the 86 Celtics have to be on the short list. Of all those teams,except MAYBE the 67 Sixers, they were the strongest inside and most certainly the deepest, if only because they had that rarest of features, a healthy Bill Walton. The one quibble is that their roster wasn't quite as deep as the others.

At Wednesday, September 21, 2011 10:59:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Not surprisingly, Dr. J, Magic and Bird each made the cases for their own respective teams--and a good case can indeed be made for the 1983 76ers, several of Magic's 1980s Lakers teams and the 1986 Celtics. The 1982 version of the Lakers is very underrated and may have been the best of the five Showtime championship teams--Kareem was still a force and Magic was an MVP level player, though the media had not quite recognized him as such just yet (he finished eighth in MVP voting in 1982 before beginning a run of nine straight years in which he finished no lower than third in the balloting).

The 1986 Celtics were very talented--their roster featured multiple All-Stars/Hall of Famers--but they were not very deep; in the playoffs they only had six players who averaged at least 15 mpg; the 1983 76ers had eight such players (and the 2011 Mavericks--clearly not an all-time great team but a very deep squad--had nine such players).

At Thursday, September 22, 2011 12:14:00 AM, Blogger Matt said...

I sensed that the cases were really made in comparison to the 96 Bulls, hence the reason they all emphasized their big men.

I wonder what was KC Jones' rationale for the distribution of minutes.I am so high on the 86 Celtics in large part because of Kevin McHale. He was just entering his peak (which would be cut very short) and his lowpost play and defensive versatility covered up a lot of holes in a hypothetical match-up with the other contenders.

If I'm not mistaken Magic once said that the 87 team the best he played on but they were were average defensively, not strong inside and cakewalk to the Finals.

I should also note that the 91 Bulls went 15-2 and lost both games on last second shots. Similar to Magic, Pippen arguably achieved elite status by the end of that season though he wasn't recognized as such. 92 Bulls are also contenders but they struggled in the playoffs.

(Re: The Mavs, it was funny to see the media talking about their victory as proof that a championship couldn't be bought even though Dallas had a significantly higher payroll. Of course if Lebron hadn't quit again all that depth would have gone for naught.)

At Thursday, September 22, 2011 1:34:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Bird, Erving and Johnson compared their respective teams to the 1996 Bulls because that was what Costas asked them to do but if you listen closely to Erving's remarks--some of which were drowned out by crowd noise--Erving said that he thought his 1983 76ers could have beaten any team; Johnson said something similar about his Lakers and the matchup advantage they had with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the post.

KC Jones' rationale was simple: he did not trust most of the players on his roster, so he kept his big guns on the court for the vast majority of the available minutes. He received some criticism for this but he did not receive nearly enough credit for guiding the Celtics to four straight Finals and two titles from 1984-87.

At Thursday, September 22, 2011 10:32:00 PM, Blogger Matt said...

I suspect the team was thinner because of the absence of Quinn Buckner, Gerald Henderson (traded for the Len Bias pick) and the decline of Scott Wedman.

That said,in this clip Russell also think no one could beat HIS team :


But at the 3:15 mark, he speaks about 'making his teammates better'. I believe you made a similar argument sometime back.

At Friday, September 23, 2011 12:16:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Naturally, just like any player who deservedly ranks among the 10-15 greatest probably thinks that he is the greatest player of all time it is not surprising that great players who played on great teams each think that their team is the greatest team ever.

Just like there is no way to prove who is the single greatest player, there is no way to prove which is the single greatest team. The best that we can do in both cases is come up with a credible short list and evaluate the pluses and minuses of each candidate.

At Wednesday, February 12, 2020 9:22:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

FYI, if the video does not load or gets deleted from YouTube, MJ's six choices are the Bulls from 1991, 1992, 1993, 1997 and 1998, with the 1996 team ranking number one. I think that this is somewhat tongue in cheek, but also somewhat serious. Certainly the 1996 Bulls are a credible choice for best single season team of all-time.


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