The NBA is not what it used to be. The rule changes and lack of defense has turned off some loyal NBA fans in the past fifteen years. Though the NBA still provides high TV numbers, they lack the intense rivalries that fueled the league back in the early eighties and nineties. I want to take a look into the past and the present to bring together the all-time rosters for some of the best NBA franchises. The players will all be considered in their prime and will be on the team that made their career most memorable. Some duplicates will exist in the case of a player like Dennis Rodman who was a main member on both championship Detroit Piston teams and three of the Chicago Bulls championships.
Today I will take a look at the super power match up of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Chicago Bulls. Here are the Rosters.
PG – Magic Johnson – Jerry West - Gail Goodrich
SG – Kobe Bryant – Byron Scott – Michael Cooper
SF – James Worthy – Elgin Baylor - Robert Horry
PF – Shaquille O’Neal – Vlade Divac
C – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – George Mikan
PG – Derrick Rose – Ron Harper – Norm Van Lier
SG – Michael Jordan – Jimmy Butler -
SF – Scottie Pippen – Toni Kukoc
PF – Dennis Rodman – Horace Grant – Taj Gibson
C – Artis Gilmore – Joakim Noah
It is hard to bet against Michael Jordan in anything to do with basketball, but with such a storied history that is the Lakers will be a true test for the Bulls. The story-line match up of Kobe and Michael will be the main focus of this series, but many other parts go into the equation. I only see the Lakers winning due to the superb front line combination of Shaq and Kareem.
Now the simulation! The surprising x factor in this series ended up being Dennis Rodman due to his effect mentally on Shaq and taking him out of his game throughout the series. Controlling the rebounding battle allowed the Bulls to control the tempo offensively and defensively. The true essence of a brutal nineties series holds true in this match up.
With every team winning their home games the series ends up in Los Angeles for game seven. Though most of the series was dominated by low post play and stifling defense, game seven was different. Jordan went off on a tear to start the game hitting eight straight shots, but Kobe and Shaw followed suit and tied up the game heading into half time. Not many more adjustments could be made as both of these teams knew each other inside and out.
The decision by Bulls coach Phil Jackson to play Rodman at the center position and Pippen at the point really threw the Lakers for a loss in the second half. Still, the game would come down to both teams being tied with five seconds left. The Lakers had the ball with Magic Johnson in-bounding the ball to Kobe, but Scottie Pippen got a hand on the inbound and Dennis Rodman dove to catch the ball with 2.2 seconds left.
The play Jackson drew up was simple. Run Michael off of a back screen and hit him with a pass so he could catch and shoot in the corner. Lakers coach Pat Riley defended this by putting two players on Jordan, but unknowingly left Toni Kukoc open at the top of the key. Without hesitation Pippen threw the ball into Kukoc who hit the open jumper with time expiring.
Not a bad opening round series!
Next up for the Bulls are the all-time Houston Rockets. Here is the starting lineup for the Rockets.
PG – Sam Cassel
SG – Clyde Drexler
SF – Tracy McGrady
PF – Moses Malone
C = Hakeem Olajuwon