For anyone to question otherwise would lead most people to ridicule; however, the past six weeks of dominance and the manner in which they’re clicking must raise this question:
Are the 2012-2013 Miami Heat possibly the greatest team ever? Yes, even greater than the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls?
Now if you’re a numbers person then the fact the Heat have 14 losses after 66 games completely nullifies them from the discussion. Except if you look deeper at more than just the numbers themselves then one can definitely pose this question.
This year’s Heat already did something that the 96 Bulls never did and that’s win 20 plus games in a row. A streak that is now at 23 and counting.
However that stat isn’t a secret.
Let’s take a deeper look into both teams and compare.
Both teams were led by who at the time was considered the greatest player of that era. Michael Jordan and LeBron James, respectively; however, when you look deeper than that is when the scale really begins to tip to the Heat in every way except for one crucial manner.
Let’s look at each team’s second and third best player. For the Bulls it was obviously Scottie Pippen and the Heat have Mr. Dwayne Wade. Now as great of a player Pippen was and he was NBA 50 greatest players of all time inductee- he is no Dwayne Wade. Wade spearheaded a championship run, won a scoring title, and is a better scorer than Pippen would dream to be. Pippen has him beat as a defender but not by as much as you think. Wade can be a game-changing defender.
The third best player is where it gets tricky. For Miami we all know it’s Bosh but who is the Bulls’ third guy? Toni Kukoc? He was a bench player who provided scoring. Dennis Rodman? Tenacious rebounder and defender who scored less than Janet Reno in college. Ron Harper? He wasn’t really relied on to do much more than dribble the ball up the floor and play shut down defense. His all star days with the Clippers were long behind him. Here’s the point: no matter who you list for the Bulls they simply aren’t better than Bosh. Bosh averaged 24 and 10 while playing in Toronto. Now he comes to Miami, buys into the team concept, and still averages 17 and 8. Not bad for a man who often shares the floor with four future hall of famers.
Which brings us to our next comparison: each team has four men who will one day end up in the Naismith Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. The Miami Heat have LeBron, Wade, Bosh, and Ray Allen off the bench who plays significant minutes on a nightly basis. At least three of those men will be first ballot hall of famers. The Chicago Bulls were led by MJ, Pippen, Rodman, and Robert Parrish who took up space on the bench. Now Jordan, Pippen, and the Worm started for the Bulls but Parrish was not a contributor for this team. Only playing in blowouts during mop up time as one of the NBA’s all time greatest big men ended his career with a whimper while playing for one legendary team. He wasn’t a household name on that Bulls teams like many others (heck, Ron Harper even headlined an episode of Kenan and Kel), his playing on the squad served more as a future answer for a trivia question.
Now let’s examine the role players. Jordan’s Bulls were famous for their clutch role players. Big bodies like Luc Longley and Bill Wennington made up the Bulls’ main center rotation. John Salley, Jud Buechler, Steve Kerr, and Toni Kukoc made up the rest of the bench full of versatile guys who could defend, get boards, and make a big shot if left wide open thanks to the attention created by Jordan. The Bulls bench players would also enjoy solid careers after their stay in Chicago but they don’t exactly overwhelm or even beat what the Heat have to offer.
The Miami Heat feature the greatest three point shooter of all time, Ray Allen. Any time you can feature a G.O.A.T. coming off your bench is definitely an asset for any squad. Let’s also include the fact their bench is littered with versatile defenders/ shooters who can make big shots and create energy off the bench in a huge way. Guys like Shane Battier, Chris Andersen, Norris Cole, Joel Anthony, and Mike Miller are all veterans who are capable of making big plays on both sides of the court. Battier is a lockdown defender, Andersen is rebound machine, Cole is a playmaker with the ball, Anthony is the janitor, and Mike Miller is a three point aerial assault artist when healthy. The Miami Heat have one of the deepest bench’s in the league and it became evident during game 5 of last year’s finals when Mike Miller and Shane Battier went off in the decisive game.
The one key area that the Bulls win by a landslide is the matter of who’s leading the sidelines. This is no disrespect to Eric Spoelstra who is young, bright, and brilliant head coach but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The 1995- 1996 Bulls were led by a man who owns eleven championship rings, dated his boss’s daughter, and took a sport and combined it with eastern Asian theology: Mr. Phil Jackson. As innovative and smart as “Spo” is and his way to lead the Heat is admirable- Phil Jackson is Phil Jackson. The master of juggling egos, the greatest offensive teacher in the history of the sport, and simply the greatest head coach in the history of professional sports. There’s no reason for me to even have to write a paragraph this long. When it comes to Eric Spoelstra and Phil Jackson the pendulum always swings in the favor of Phil Jackson.
Now if the Miami Heat somehow drop the ball and don’t win their second straight title this June then this article was all for naught; however, if the Heat keep up this dominant run and romp through the playoffs and the finals then there definitely is an argument.
Look past the numbers. The 2012-2013 Miami Heat may be the greatest team of all ti