Ranking the NBA Finals teams, from best to worst

ESPN columnist John Hollinger has lost his mind. He has a column in which he ranks the top NBA finals teams. His ranking is just nuts. Here is an excerpt.

1. 1996 Chicago Bulls

Hands down, the greatest team of all time. How can you choose another when these guys won 72 regular-season games and 14 of their first 15 in the postseason? The Bulls were so good they were first in both offensive and defensive efficiency, and outscored their opponents by 12.2 points per game.

With names like Jordan, Pippen, Rodman, and Toni Kukoc, not to mention a coach like Phil Jackson, this team was pretty much unbeatable — in fact, seven of its playoff wins were by 17 points or more. The only nit to pick was the Bulls’ consecutive losses to the Sonics in the Finals, but they were up 3-0 by then and seemingly bored with how good they were.

The Bulls would never have beaten the 1985, 1987, 1988 championship Lakers teams. They wouldn’t have beaten the ’86 Celtics or the ’89 Pistons either.

For that matter none of the Jordan championship teams could have matched those ’80s teams. They didn’t have enough depth.

Look at Hollinger’s comments about the ’87 Lakers

Fittingly, the great Lakers and Celtics teams are in a virtual dead heat for second place. (You’ll note that I just call the Lakers “Los Angeles” in this list — no risk of confusing them with the Clippers here.) This L.A. team nudged ahead of Boston by virtue of winning 65 games in the regular season and then trashing the West — 11 wins in 12 games — to make the Finals. The Lakers beat the Celtics in six, and for the playoffs as a whole outscored their opponents by 205 points — the best of any team on this list. Seven different players averaged double figures, led by Magic with 23.9 points per game.

Sigh, modern teams just don’t compare. Some fans argue that the teams today are more athletic and there may be some truth to that. But they are fundamentally less sound. You couldn’t leave players alone because they could hit outside shots. It wasn’t all dunking. Now I love that athleticism, but c’mon now.

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  1. Jack's Shack June 8, 2007 at 3:12 pm


    That is the thing about the NBA. The Celtics basically dominated the ’60s. The ’70s were a mix of teams.

    The ’80s was run by The Lakers and the Celtics.

    The 90’s had the Bulls. The 21st century began with three straight years of Lakers championships.

    But the team that has been most dominant since then is probably San Antonio.

  2. Chana June 8, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    I think it was Charles who said something about Moses being on the ark for 40 days?

  3. Chana June 8, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    Oh, I forgot, the Bulls had a stretch for a few minutes, didn’t they? 😉

  4. Jack's Shack June 8, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    Chuck is an interesting fella.

  5. Annie June 8, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    Jack- you should take a look at this basketball-related article from the Huffington Post.

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