Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Windhorst: Bulls' 72-win season tops Heat
By Brian Windhorst
The Heat have been great for eight weeks, but the '95-96 Bulls were great for six months.
When the Miami Heat started training camp last September, they had the exact same mission as the Chicago Bulls did when they assembled prior to the 1995-96 season. Both were motivated to win the title and had the talent and championship experience to win it.
The difference is the Bulls were motivated to make history from Day 1 while the Heat didn't embrace their chance until midseason. You could have an argument over which team was more dominant during their remarkable regular-season runs. But there is no doubt the Bulls' thirst to chase down that 70-win season ranks higher than this Heat streak for the consecutive-win record just based on consistency.
I covered nearly every game of the Cleveland Cavs' 2008-09 season when they won 66 games. That team was generally healthy, went through some numbing hot streaks and seemed to win every single game that could've gone either way. The Heat will have to finish 11-1 just to match that earlier LeBron James-led great regular season. And that team was still six wins shy of just matching that record-setting Bulls regular season.
It makes for fun debates to compare teams from different eras. I, for one, would love to see James in his prime defend Michael Jordan in his prime. I'd love to see how Scottie Pippen at the height of his powers tried to deal with the physical force James is now. Compelling cases can be constructed with stats and computer models the same way high-priced attorneys can swing juries with manipulation. But we'll never really know.
What doesn't change is how long 82 games are from October to April. Or how challenging back-to-backs are on the mind and body. Or the challenge of an entire team can push itself to care about each game when playoff positioning is no longer an issue and their bodies want to shut it down.
The Heat have been unbeatable for eight weeks. Those Bulls were unbeatable for six months.