However, thanks to an inspired effort by a short-handed Chicago Bulls team, the streak came to a screeching halt on March 27.
As it often happens, when a team of one era exhibits similar characteristics to teams in previous eras, debates are frequently created.
In this particular instance, the question was recently raised as to whether or not the Miami Heat could be mentioned in the same conversation with the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls, who set a league record with 72 wins.
Although the Heat had an impressive run, here are a few of my thoughts on why they do not measure up to that Bulls team.
While a 27-game winning streak is a great accomplishment, the 1995-1996 Bulls team played at a high level for an entire season—not just in spurts.
Chicago began the 1995-1996 campaign winning 41 of its first 44 games and became the first team in history to compile 50 wins in the first 56 games of a season.
In addition to that, the Bulls never lost more than three games in any calendar month that season, including a remarkable 14-0 mark in January of 1996.
Even if the Heat won the rest of the games this season, their record would be 67-15—five wins shy of that great Bulls team.
Need I say more here?
Let’s move on to the next point.
Even the casual sports fan is familiar with the saying “defense wins championships.” Well, that principle especially held true for Chicago.
Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen always made life difficult for opponents during the team’s first trio of championships.
With the addition of Ron Harper alongside Jordan in the backcourt during the second three-peat, the Bulls had one of most formidable defensive trios in the league.
The Bulls ranked second in total points allowed, giving up just 92.9 points per contest, which is a huge reason why they lost only 10 games.
Chicago’s defense was even better in the playoffs, as it limited opponents to 86.8 points per game during a 15-3 postseason run that resulted in the team’s fourth championship.
While this year’s Heat team ranks seventh in points allowed at 95.5 per contest, their defense is not quite as stingy as the 95-96 Bulls team.
Aside from the consistency and defensive aspects, that Bulls team possessed a few other things this Miami team does not have.
In Jordan, Chicago had the greatest player in league history. He simply willed his team to victory whenever it was needed.
Scottie Pippen was one of the most versatile small forwards in the game, and not only was he responsible for facilitating the offense, he also defended the opposing team’s best player.
Let's not forget about Dennis Rodman either, who was the perfect replacement for Horace Grant. His defense and rebounding were vital to the team's success.
While the 95-96 Bulls team had a solid starting five and good bench production, it also had a Hall of Fame coach in Phil Jackson.
After years of watching the Bulls fall to the Pistons, Jackson successfully sold Jordan on the importance of the triangle offense and he knew how to push the right buttons to get the most out his players.
As a result of Jackson’s leadership, the Bulls dominated a decade in a way that very few teams before them had done.
These are a just a few reasons why the 95-96 Bulls are superior to this year’s Miami Heat.
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