Warriors wouldn’t stand chance against Jordan’s Bulls dynasty
This is a fun and timely topic with the Michael Jordan documentary currently airing on ESPN, but I also believe it’s somewhat of a silly debate.
The Warriors of recent years wouldn’t stand a chance against Jordan’s Bulls of the ’90s in a seven-game series.
I’ve long said the most entertaining sports team of my life was the run-and-gun Loyola Marymount hoops squad from 30 years ago led by Hank Gathers and Bo Kimble.
Second on my most entertaining list would in fact be the Warriors of the past five years. I work late nights, so I’ve watched a ton of Warriors games out West and have enjoyed their high-octane offense and revolutionary 3-point shooting.
It gives me no pleasure dissing the Warriors, the most explosive team in NBA history, but we have to face reality when comparing them to Jordan’s Bulls.
I’m 46, so I grew up watching Jordan and the Bulls, paying especially close attention to Scottie Pippen, since he went to college 45 miles from my hometown. (I also attended Pippen’s basketball camp at the University of Central Arkansas with my high school team.)
Let’s start with one question, something many people ask in this debate: Which era would this series be played in?
If the current Warriors team had to go back in time and play the Bulls under ’90s rules, I’d take Chicago in five games. Those Bulls teams from that physically demanding, grind-it-out era would bully the Warriors all over the court — pounding Steph Curry and Kevin Durant at every opportunity and drastically hindering their finesse styles of play.
That type of series would be boring to watch.
I would love to see a series where Jordan’s Bulls had to come into the modern era and play the Warriors under current rules. That would be some fun basketball, but I’d still take Chicago in six games.
Jordan would average about 40 points per game in that kind of series. He’d be unstoppable going to the basket, scoring at will, or he’d end up at the free-throw line 30 times a night because you can’t breathe on players nowadays without it being a foul.
The versatile Pippen also would be fantastic in that kind of series. And even though Chicago wouldn’t be drilling as many 3s as Golden State, there still would be plenty of drive-and-kick opportunities for sharpshooters such as Steve Kerr or John Paxson (from early ’90s).
The big difference would be on defense. Jordan was an exceptional defender early in his career and still very good later on. Pippen and Dennis Rodman also excelled defensively, and collectively, and the Bulls would have a major physicality advantage and would find a way to challenge all the 3s taken by Curry, Durant and Klay Thompson.
Draymond Green, Thompson and LeBron James nemesis Andre Iguodala are outstanding defenders who would cause Chicago some problems, but come on, no one would have any answers for Jordan.
The Warriors could win a couple of games by getting hot and going on some big runs with the 3 ball. Their X-factor wouldn’t be Curry or Durant, but actually Thompson, who’s as good as any shooter ever when he really gets hot and can carry a team for a quarter or half.
Ultimately, though, Jordan would take over and have a couple of 50-point games in the series, willing the Bulls to victory as he did so many times during the greatest dynasty in NBA history.
Yes, that’s right: What the Bulls did in the ’90s was more impressive than what Bill Russell’s Celtics did — 11 titles in 13 years during the 1960s — but that’s a debate for another day.
Cory Giger can be reached at email@example.com.