Are the Golden State Warriors the Greatest Team of All-Time?
*Photo via USA Today
‘Don’t mean a thing without the ring’ - Scottie Pippen.
‘They can’t beat us or play in our era’ - Shaq/Magic/Mychal Thompson/The Big O/Barkley/The old veteran guy who got any minutes before 2003
We’ve all heard the comparisons. Legend after legend has come out and spoke on the 2016 Warriors. The funny thing is, Michael Jordan, who many consider the greatest NBA player of all-time, has had nothing but positive wishes for the 2016 season of the Golden State Warriors.
Since it seems to be everyone vs the Warriors, one may suggest that that amount of hate and attention, is enough to grant them the title of the best team ever. Let’s talk about the Warriors some more and look at some teams that are considered top or best ever, as well as what I think is the major component to all great teams.
Every great team needs at least one all-star caliber player. When it comes to the NBA, in order to be considered a championship contender, you need 2 or more all-star caliber players. But, to be considered a great one, you need a great mix of all-star players, role players that fit the system, and a superstar player or 2 that instills fear in their opponent. Also, you need a great coach and the ability to stand the test of time. Does that last sentence sound familiar? That sounds like the Golden State Warriors to me. That also sounds like the Bulls of the 90s, the Bad Boy Pistons, Showtime Lakers, Spurs, Shaq and Kobe Lakers and Celtics that were led by Larry Bird and at one time Bill Russell.
Golden State Warriors
*Photo via Warriors World
We know the Warriors have established the best winning season of all time, setting a record of 73 wins. But, what tools do they have that make them the best of all-time? They have an MVP, superstar in Stephen Curry. Star player in Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. They can out-shoot anybody on any given night. Don’t forget, their role players have ability to function on their own, whether it be scoring the basketball, rebounding, defending or creating. Role players who can make an impact and probably be featured players on any other NBA team.
Steve Kerr is young and only in his second year, but he has already coached them to 2 NBA Finals appearances, a championship and the best record of all-time. He also has 6 rings as a player so he knows what it takes, also learning from Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich has helped. This team is tight knit and know each other extremely well. Winning 24 consecutive games in one season and 54 straight home games, they have all the makings of what it takes to be the greatest team of all-time.
*Photo via Clutchpoints
This team won 5 Championships and for a 12 year span (1979-1991) they reached 9 NBA Finals. WIth legendary coach Pat Riley, these Lakers revolutionized the game of basketball. With a running style led by Magic Johnson and the inside presence of NBA all-time leading scorer Kareem Abdul Jabbar. It is easy to argue this legendary team could be the greatest of them all. This team is full of all stars. They didn’t need to win a championship every year for us to know that they were a top team in their era. Norm Nixon, Michael Cooper, Bob McAdoo, Kurt Rambis, Byron Scott, James Worthy. All superior talents. If you remove one of them, they still pose the advantage against most teams. At worst, this team won 54 games and at best delivered 65 wins, proving their dominance throughout the Western Conference and the NBA. A team full of dominating players with individual records by posting MVP honors with multiple players, the “Showtime Era” Lakers are a top choice for many when it comes to the discussion for the greatest teams in history.
*Photo via Boston.com
If we can talk about the Lakers then we have to talk about those Celtics! If there was a team that rivaled the greatness of the Lakers it was the Celtics. No NBA franchise has won more championships overall. The awesome thing about the Celtics is that they have two of what many regard the greatest team ever. The late 50s and the entire decade of the 60s was controlled by Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, K.C. Jones, Tom Heinsohn, Sam Jones and John Havlicek, of course led by the what many consider the greatest coach of all-time, Red Auerbach. The team was so outstanding, that when Red Auerbach retired from coaching to become General Manager.He hired 5 time MVP Bill Russell as coach, thus, making him the first player coach to win two championships, giving him a total of 11. This Celtics team has produced multi-time MVPs, All-Stars, All-NBA, All-Defense and Coach of the Year. This team is stacked, where many of its players going on to become great coaches and Hall of Fame inductees.12 in this era. Twelve.
It is easy to say that as an organization, the Boston Celtics have it down as the best the NBA has ever seen. With drafting Hall of Famer and 3-time MVP, Larry Bird, they were able to establish another generation of greatness. They had obstacles of some of the best teams or their time, going through many battles with the Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons, Philadelphia 76ers and of course, the Los Angeles Lakers. Raising 3 championship banners, this team was held tight with legendary players Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson, and for a bit Tiny Archibald and Bill Walton. With the Celtics family tree of players going on to be notable coaches and executives, Danny Ainge, McHale and Bird come to mind. Even their coach K.C. Jones was a former Celtic himself. In the rough and tough decade of the 80s, only 2 teams are synonymous, Lakers and Celtics. Reaching 67 wins during their 1986 championship run, one of the NBA’s best records of all time, no doubt the Celtics of the 80s are arguably one of if not the best team ever.
*Photo via theGrio
One of the best teams ever, is sometimes unfairly forgotten about. Often thought as a bridge between two generations, the Magic Johnson era and the Michael Jordan era, this team often goes overlooked. But why? This team personified toughness and grit. if they aren’t regarded the best team ever, they deserve at least the title of the toughest team ever. Their starting guards were small in stature but huge with mental and physical toughness. If you were a player that happened to get past Isiah Thomas or Joe Dumars, you had to worry about Dennis Rodman, Bill Laimbeer, John Salley or Rick Mahorn, smacking you down to the floor like you were an annoying bug. With key role players, Vinnie ‘Microwave’ Johnson and James Edwards, this roster was not to be slept on. Coached by the great Chuck Daly, he implemented an aggressive style of play that led them to 3 straight Finals appearances and 2 victories. Having to go through Larry Bird and the Celtics, Michael Jordan and the Bulls and sweeping Magic Johnson and the Lakers for the first championship of the ‘Bad Boy’ era, this is surely one of the greatest teams of all-time.
*Photo via Huffington Post
What majority of basketball fans call the best team ever. It goes without saying. We all know about Michael Jordan’s greatness and impact to the game. If you have made it this far, then you may have picked up on the progression and where this road was heading to. The Bulls in the 90’s won 6 championships, with two 3Peats. It could have possibly been 8 had Michael Jordan not retired. With the greatest of all-time at the 2 guard and Scottie Pippen at the small forward, they could lock up your best player on any wing, on any team. A great conglomerate of role players in Horace Grant, Steve Kerr, John Paxson, Dennis Rodman, Toni Kukoc and Luc Longley. We all knew the ball was going to MJ, but he had the backup that put the nail in the coffin.
And with Phil Jackson at the helm the team had 60 plus wins in multiple seasons and a record of 72-10, what is the debate? This team had to go through legend after legend to win championships. Not just make the playoffs and/or reach conference and league Finals, but they actually beat them. Ask Karl Malone, John Stockton, Reggie Miller, Charles Barkley, Mark Price, Patrick Ewing and a long list of hall of famers the reason why they don’t have championships. Ask Gary Payton, Clyde Drexler, Hakeem Olajuwon, Alonzo Mourning or Shaquille O’neal why they could not win when Michael Jordan led the Bulls. They had to join forces or just wait it out. There is no team that compares in my opinion. The degree of competition, plus the amount of championships makes the Bulls my pick for the greatest team ever.
Or maybe it is the Warriors, but that remains to be seen.
San Antonio Spurs
*Photo via Huffington Post
The Greg Popovich era Spurs are no doubt a top team. The only thing that holds them back fro greatest team ever conversation is that maybe they are too great. The Spurs sometimes don’t play with enough killer instinct. They often lose playoff series to lesser teams who don’t go on to win the championship. Also, a lack of back to back appearances and championships hurts their cause. No doubt, they have one of the greatest and best coaches in history, and some of the greatest players to match, but the will and instinct to win hurts their cause.
Lakers, Shaq and Kobe era
*Photo via ESPN
What is there to say. Two of the greatest players of all-time at their position. The most dominant center that many have seen in the playoffs. a young Kobe Bryant with an infinite potential. A comfortable Phil Jackson , who loves Los Angeles. It’s just too many ifs. If only they stayed together. If only the Eastern Conference wasn’t so weak. If only...