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NBA History: Jordan's Bulls, Bird's Celtics and the 10 Greatest Teams

Danny DolphinAnalyst IOctober 28, 2010

Jordan's Bulls, Larry Bird's Celtics and the 10 Greatest Teams in NBA History

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    It’s pretty difficult to compile a list of the greatest teams in NBA history.

    How can we possibly compare teams from entirely different eras with all of the different rule changes and stylistic differences? It’s really tough, but I dug deep and came up with a list of who I thought was the top ten teams in NBA history.

    And the greatest teams in NBA history are...

10. 2007-08 Boston Celtics

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    Key Players: Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins, Eddie House, James Posey

    Regular Season: 66-16

    Playoffs: 16-10

    MOV (Margin Of Victory): 10

    "The Big Three", as they were dubbed at the beginning of Boston's magnificent turnaround season, jelled from the start winning 29 of their first 32 games. They finished the season 67-15 and were by far the league's top defensive unit. 

    However, once they hit the playoffs they had trouble and played two game sevens in the first two rounds. Once they got to the finals they took out a very good, yet over-matched Lakers squad led by Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.

9. 1982-83 Philadelphia Sixers

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    Key Players: Moses Malone, Julius Erving, Andrew Toney, Maurice Cheeks, Bobby Jones

    Regular Season: 65-17

    Playoffs: 12-1

    MOV: 7.7

    Moses and "Dr. J", this team had some extravagant talent. They posted the best playoff winning percentage in NBA history at the time, losing only once on their way to the title. 

    They had three players average over 22 points and shooting 50 percent or above: Malone (23.5 points, 50 percent), Erving (22.9 points, 52 percent), and Toney (23.3, 50 percent).

8. 1991-92 Chicago Bulls

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Key Players: Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, B.J. Armstrong, John Paxson

    Regular Season: 67-15

    Playoffs: 15-7

    MOV: 10.4

    Outside of Jordan and Pippen, nobody really scared the opposition..

    But role players like Armstrong and Paxson were perfect fits that produced when called upon. They meshed with Jordan's game well and defended their asses off. 

    This might not have been the best Bulls squad ever, but they sure were in the discussion. Horace Grant was a tireless worker who did the dirty work inside, a critical component to any championship team. 

7. 2000-01 Los Angeles Lakers

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Key Players: Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Robert Horry, Derek Fisher, Rick Fox

    Regular Season: 56-26

    Playoffs: 15-1

    MOV: 4.4

    Similar to the '91 Bulls, this squad had two dominant players in Shaq and Kobe and also elite role players that included Big Shot Bob and Derek Fisher. 

    To me this was Shaq and Kobe at their best together. Nobody could stop either one of them one on one, which left them both in a position to make big plays.

    Managing these two egos, however, was probably one of the toughest things in Phil Jackson's career. 

6. 1988-89 Detroit Pistons

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    Tim DeFrisco/Getty Images

    Key Players: Isaiah Thomas, Bill Lambier, Joe Dumars, Mark Aguirre, Vinne Johnson, Dennis Rodman, Adrian Dantley

    Regular Season: 63-19

    Playoffs: 15-2

    MOV: 5.8

    This team was the bad boys of the NBA. They featured a dominant three guard rotation and harassed like no other on the defensive end.

    In fact, they were one of the best defensive teams of all time. Only the Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals didn't get swept by this hard-nosed, physical team. 

5. 1964-65 Boston Celtics

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    Key Players: Bill Russell, John Havlicek, Tom Sanders, Sam Jones, Tom Heinsohn

    Regular Season: 62-18

    Playoffs: 8-4

    MOV:  8.4

    Broke its own league record for most victories in a season and then went on to win the Celtics' seventh consecutive NBA championship. This was the team that resonates with the famous "Havlicek stole the ball!" radio call from Celtics broadcaster Johnny Most.

    Russell, arguably the greatest big man to ever play, averaged a ridiculous 24 rebounds a night that season. Numbers like that will never be approached again.

4. 1986-87 Los Angeles Lakers

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    Key Players: Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Byron Scott, Michael Cooper, A.C. Green

    Regular Season: 65-17

    Playoffs: 15-3

    MOV: 9.3

    The "Showtime" Lakers led by coaching legend Pat Riley was one of the greatest offensive teams from any era. They simply were unstoppable with the combination of three dominate hall-of-famers in Magic, Kareem, and Worthy. 

    They put up 117.8 points a game that year en route to their title over the Boston Celtics in six. 

3. 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers

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    Ken Levine/Getty Images

    Key Players: Gail Goodrich, Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, Jim McMillian, Happy Hairston, Elgin Baylor.

    Regular Season: 67-15

    Playoffs: 12-3

    MOV:  13.3

    Just the fact that two of the greatest to ever play, West and Chamberlain, were on the same team was not fair. Throw in Goodrich, who doesn't get the same pub as the previous two do, yet averaged a team-high 25.9 points a night.

    Baylor, McMillian, Hairston; the list goes on. This was one of the greatest collection of talent the league will ever see. And if you check out their margin of victory (13.3), it's another sign of just how good these guys were. 

    They also won an amazing 33 in a row, something that might never be broken. 

2. 1985-86 Boston Celtics

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    Tim DeFrisco/Getty Images

    Key Players: Larry Bird, Robert Parish, Danny Ainge, Bill Walton, Kevin McHale, Dennis Johnson

    Regular Season: 67-15

    Playoffs: 15-3

    MOV:  9.4

    Five hall of famers: Bird, Parish, Walton, McHale, and Johnson. 

    This squad boasted a 40-1 record at home, the best home winning percentage (.976) in NBA history. They were the epitome of efficiency shooting over 50 percent a night. 

    Led by Bird, they went on to win it all over the Houston Rockets in a six game battle.

    This just might have been Larry Legend's best year as a pro, averaging 25.8 points, 9.8 boards, and 6.8 assists. He shot 49 percent from the field, 42 percent from three, and 89 percent from the stripe.

1. 1995-96 Chicago Bulls

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Key Players: Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Toni Kukoc, Steve Kerr, Luc Longley

    Regular Season: 72-10

    Playoffs: 15-3

    MOV: 12.3

    Everyone was afraid of the Bulls, even before they added wild-man rebounding connoisseur Dennis Rodman to the mix. What happened next was a chemistry experiment of perfection as they went on to win a league record 72 games with the best defensive team of all time.

    Jordan, Pippen, and Rodman formed a lethal defensive trio to which nobody could answer. When they wanted a stop they were going to get a stop. It was that simple. 

    Like usual, the Bulls had a great supporting cast of efficient role players who didn't step on any toes which included Kukoc, Longley, and others. 

    Will this team ever be challenged as the greatest ever? Only time will tell...

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