Every June a new NBA champion is crowned. That team is of course "the best."
What about all those champs though? Every champ isn't created equal are they?
Surely some champs are better than others, while some are unquestionably worse.
In a world of constantly evolving statistics, there are numerous ways to try and determine the "better" and "worse" NBA Champs from a historical perspective. There's regular season record, postseason record, margin of victory and strength of opponent. All of which are very legitimate statistics.
Of course none of those take into account the league as a whole.
Twenty-five years ago there were only 23 teams in the NBA. Now there are 30. Yes, basketball as a sport has increased in popularity over those 25 years, but does that mean that the added seven teams haven't resulted in a slight watering down of the overall talent level on each team?
What about the lack of skilled big men? Today's top centers, men like Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum are very good, but they're not nearly as good as players like David Robinson, Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing.
Less dominant big men means an increase in shots taken from long range. Adding to that is the increased popularity of the three-point shot.
The simple fact is that athletes might be better, but the complexity of the game is not what it was 25 years ago.
So how would one accurately rank the best and worst champs of the last 25 years?
This breakdown will refer to four main sources.
Last June, John Hollinger of espn.com ranked every single team to ever play in the Finals over the last 35 years. Hollinger assigns point values to regular season and postseason wins, assigns point values to margin of victory and finally hands out a bonus to teams that won the finals.
Neil Paine over at Basketball Prospectus used Basketball Reference's SRS stat to rank the most dominant champs of the last 25 years. This stat is heavily influenced by margin of victory. It also adds in priority to certain games of importance.
Then of course there's Bill Simmons. His "Book of Basketball" has a very interesting breakdown of NBA Champs that does take the era the title occurred in into account.
Finally, I'm old enough to have watched the last 25 NBA Finals and full seasons myself, so I've got my own opinions as well.
Will this produce an agreed-upon consensus?
No, that won't happen, but that doesn't mean it's not worth a try.