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NBA's Ultimate Question: Who's Better, 2010 Lakers or 1996 Bulls?

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NBA's Ultimate Question: Who's Better, 2010 Lakers or 1996 Bulls?
Who's better: Kobe or MJ? Photo courtesy of bestplayerontheplanet.com

A question commonly discussed on this site is "Who's better: Kobe or MJ?"

Oftentimes, Lakers and old school Bulls fans battle it out on the website over who's better individually. But here is a better question: which team is better, Michael Jordan's Bulls or Kobe Bryant's Lakers? 

Obviously, both teams have Phil Jackson as coach, so coaching is even.

Furthermore, if you look at the roster, the Bulls and Lakers are eerily similar. I mean, just think about the personnel. 

I will examine each starter and the sixth man for each team statistically. Without further ado, here's an unbiased comparison. I will make a conclusion at the end, but so can you in the comments section. 

Record

1995-96 Chicago Bulls: 72-10 in the regular season. 15-3 in the playoffs. Won NBA Finals against Seattle Supersonics 4-2. 

2009-10 Lakers: 57-25 in the regular season. 16-7 in the playoffs. Won NBA Finals against Boston Celtics 4-3. 

Team Statistics

1995-96 Bulls: Offense ranked No. 1 out of 29 teams at 105.2 points per game. Defense ranked No. 3 out of 29 teams at 92.9 points per game allowed. 

2009-10 Lakers: Offense ranked No. 11 out of 30 teams at 101.7 points per game. Defense ranked No. 9 at 97.0 points per game allowed. 

Roster

This will be a much tougher comparison. On each roster, I will compare every starter and sixth man and show their stats at the end of the comparison. 

Bulls starting five: Ron Harper, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Luc Longley. 

Lakers starting five: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.

Point Guard: Derek Fisher vs. Ron Harper

Fisher is the consummate Phil Jackson-style point guard. He runs the triangle, gets out of Kobe's way and hits huge shots if needed. Technically, Ron Harper was not really the point guard, but he was like the Derek Fisher of the 1996 Bulls. He played good defense, hit big shots and got out of Michael's way. 

Fisher's stats: 7.5 PPG, 2.1 RPG and 2.5 APG in 27.2 MPG. 

Harper's stats: 7.4 PPG, 2.7 RPG and 2.6 APG in 23.6 MPG. 

 

Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant vs. Michael Jordan (Black Mamba vs. Air Jordan)

We all know what they do. They are the ultimate competitors. At their respective primes, they were the best players in the world. Both are incredible defenders in addition to scorers. 

The only true way to determine who really is better is to have these guys play one-on-one. Of course, both Kobe and Jordan must be in their physical and basketball primes. 

Bryant's stats: 27 PPG, 5.4 RPG and 5.0 APG in 38.8 MPG.

Jordan's stats: 30.4 PPG, 6.6 RPG and 4.3 APG in 37.7 MPG. 

 

Now, let's compare the respective Robins to the Batmen. 

 

Forward: Pau Gasol vs. Scottie Pippen 

It's tough to compare a wing player to a post player. Gasol's role is much closer to Pippen's than to Rodman's.

Perfectly fitting the triangle offense, Gasol and Pippen could score if needed, but were very unselfish and are very versatile on both ends of the floor. Pippen was called upon to guard the opposing team's point guard. Gasol often guards the team's power forward or center, depending on who is starting beside him. 

Gasol's stats: 18.3 PPG, 11.3 RPG and 3.4 APG in 37.0 MPG.

Pippen's stats: 19.4 PPG, 6.4 RPG and 5.9 APG in 36.7 MPG. 

 

Other Forward: Ron Artest vs. Dennis Rodman 

Remember when I said these two teams are eerily similar? These two guys are what I'm talking about.

They are both hard-nosed, defensive-minded beasts on the court. In particular, Rodman could very well be the greatest rebounder of all time. Artest is versatile enough to guard 2s through 4s. Rodman could guard all five positions. 

Off the court, to put it nicely, they are eccentric. Nevertheless, both are the grit behind the glitz of the two star players for their respective teams. 

Artest's stats: 11.0 PPG, 4.3 RPG and 3.0 APG in 33.8 MPG.

Rodman's stats: 5.5 PPG, 14.9 RPG and 2.5 APG in 32.6 MPG. 

 

Center: Andrew Bynum vs. Luc Longley

This is a position which the triangle offense really doesn't require. However on defense, Bynum and Longley were needed to shore up the interior defense. 

Bynum's stats: 15.0 PPG, 8.3 RPG and 1.4 BPG in 30.4 MPG.

Longley's stats: 9.1 PPG, 5.1 PPG and 1.9 APG in 26.5 MPG. 

 

Sixth Man: Lamar Odom vs. Toni Kukoc 

Like Rodman and Artest, these two players might as well be twins on the court. Both were 6'10", can pass, shoot and handle the ball. 

Odom's stats: 10.8 PPG, 9.8 RPG and 3.3 APG in 31.5 MPG.

Kukoc's stats: 13.1 PPG, 4.0 RPG and 3.5 APG in 26.0 MPG. 

 

With all the evidence laid out for you to observe, who's better, the 1995-96 Bulls or the 2009-10 Lakers? 

After seeing the evidence, my conclusion is the 1996 Bulls. Hands down, they had the better record, better competition and the better players. 

Hope you enjoyed the comparison and be sure to comment if you got this far. 

Information thanks to basketballreference.com. 

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