In May of 2004 the NBA.com Finals Challenge panel of 15 former players, coaches and current/past media members supported the underlying theme of this site: The 1995-96 Chicago Bulls are not the Greatest team in NBA History. In a 9-6 majority the panel chose the 1985-86 Celtics to defeat the 1995-96 Bulls when the two teams were matched up in the semifinal round of the challenge.
In the 1995-96 NBA Season the Chicago Bulls ran off to an unprecedented 72-10 record. One year later at the NBA's 50th anniversary celebration a fan opinion poll crowned these Bulls as the best team ever. At the same time a massive promotional campaign by Commissioner David Stern and the NBA was launched where they crowned Michael Jordan the best player ever and the 1995-96 Bulls the best team ever. In spite of this promotion many former NBA players & fans view these Bulls as overrated. The 1995-96 Chicago Bulls were a great team but their place in NBA History does not belong at the top. Here is why:
Under what would basically be the following NBA rules:
Here are the four basic weapons a team would need to defeat the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls:
This list is easier said than done. The team who came the closest to matching this criterion in 1995-96 were the Seattle Supersonics (2, 3 & 4). The Sonics had a strong perimeter trio in Gary Payton, Hersey Hawkins and Detlef Shrempf, the rugged & athletic Shawn Kemp at power forward and a solid bench led by Nate Mcmillan & Sam Perkins. Unfortunately for the Sonics they did not have a dominant center to punish the Bulls inside & they lost the NBA Finals 4-2.
The 1992 Chicago Bulls do not quite fit the criteria above, but they are a better team because they are very strong on #2 (BOTH Jordan + Pippen were more productive in 1992) and #3 (Horace Grant fills both of those roles). The Bulls also have a solid bench and an offensively capable center (Bill Cartwright, who made the All-Star team when he was a Knick), which makes the difference for the 1992 team.
I believe the following teams have the weapons necessary to defeat the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. There is a hyperlink to an analysis of that team's possible match up against the Bulls.
One other interesting note: it is not clear just how much of a performance enhancing effect that chartered jets, first class hotels and modern sports medicine would have on the above listed teams. The teams from the 1960's and early 1970's managed to play at a torrid pace (about 117 points per game) in spite of not having the previously mentioned luxuries that are now afforded to modern teams.
I will concede that the 1995-96 Bulls may be able to defeat some of these teams, specifically the 1971 Bucks and 1983 Sixers, but there is no way they would beat all of them, especially the other four: the 1986 Celtics, 1967 76ers and the 1972 & '87 Lakers.