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Old 09-12-2011, 02:03 PM
 
Location: Earth
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfre81 View Post
See, this is why I don't much care for any player getting placed on a pedestal higher than the game. Any rational arguments can get shot down on the spot by someone pushing platitudes about "oh yeah? Well, this guy was the GREATEST!" and everyone just nods in agreement.

For one, my focus there was not solely on the Jordan/Maxwell matchup because it didn't exist in 1995. Like I laid out up there, Jordan was playing in that playoffs, his numbers compared favorably to his own right before his retirement and surely after the next season when the Bulls were a better team after acquiring Dennis Rodman. As for '94 - considering four wins are all you need to take a series - Jordan's last three meetings with Houston are as good an indication as we have of how a Rockets-Bulls '94 finals would have gone down. It's evidence enough that the result of this hypothetical Finals would not have been the slam dunk for MJ and the Bulls as most of the NBA fandom assumes.

Even if Jordan did manage to drop a 40-something point bomb on Maxwell in '94, who was going to stop Hakeem from doing the same thing? And, for as great Jordan was, he couldn't carry the team in '95. That's because, no matter how much ESPN and Sports Illustrated revered the guy - and no matter how many times we saw MJ's mug pitching Nike sneakers, Big Macs and Ball Park hotdogs - basketball was and is still a team game.

Championships don't go to individuals. They go to teams.
This series would have come down to the role players. Both teams had excellent supporting casts. Let's say that Jordan and Hakeem cancel out each other's greatness, the next best player on the floor is Pippen, and that's whether we're talking about the 94 or 95 seasons. At that stage his talents were fully realized, and he was better than Drexler. Horace Grant and B.J Armstrong had developed further, then you had Kukoc.

On the Rockets side, you had Otis Thorpe, young Horry and Cassell, Mario Elie, Maxwell, Kenny Smith....quality on both sides. Would have been a heck of a matchup either way. One point of note, the Bulls facing that Rockets team were coming off a 3-peat, for all we know they were ripe for being taken down. I don't think the 94 Rockets would have done the job, but I wouldn't put anything past that 95 team, Not after seeing their playoff run...every series won on the road against quality opponents. Still one of the more impressive things I've seen in the last 20 years of NBA ball....
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Old 09-12-2011, 03:16 PM
 
Location: Avondale, Chicago
14,421 posts, read 26,252,840 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg1977
Let's say that Jordan and Hakeem cancel out each other's greatness, the next best player on the floor is Pippen
...whose added scoring over Horry or Thorpe was negated by the fact that whoever was playing center was of next to no impact on offense. Every starter on the 1993-94 Rockets averaged 10 or more points a game.

Olajuwon on his own created matchup problems the Bulls didn't face against the other centers they commonly faced. Patrick Ewing was the closest thing the East had at the time. Even if he drives past Maxwell, Olajuwon has the mobility to move over and Jordan is not going to have an easy drive to the rack. Otis Thorpe was no slouch in the lane on D either, and he averaged a double double for the 1994 season and was .1 RPG short of a double double average for the playoffs.

People put so much weight on the stars, the Jordans, the Hakeems, but the role players are the ones who decide things in the postseason. There's a reason why Robert Horry won seven rings with three different franchises. The Bulls didn't win in 1995 because they lacked the role players, not because Jordan missed most of the regular season as most NBA fans would presume. They addressed that by picking up Rodman the following year and won it all again, while the Rockets traded their youth and depth for a big name in Charles Barkley and the club hasn't returned to the Finals since.
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Old 09-12-2011, 03:56 PM
 
Location: Earth
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfre81 View Post

People put so much weight on the stars, the Jordans, the Hakeems, but the role players are the ones who decide things in the postseason.
Was this not what I said? That was my VERY first sentence in my earlier post.

And yes, the Bulls didn't have a proper power forward in 1995( Grant had left for the Magic) but Jordan was NOT the Jordan of old to lead the Bulls to the title that year even if they had kept Grant, despite what his stats might suggest. I've already said that I think the Rockets, especially in 95, were a legit championship team and would have caused issues for the Bulls. I don't think for the most part we're in disagreement, and you'll note I've more than given my share of props to those Rockets. That was a great team.
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Old 09-12-2011, 04:04 PM
 
Location: Avondale, Chicago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg1977 View Post
Was this not what I said?
Yes.

Quote:
but Jordan was NOT the Jordan of old to lead the Bulls to the title that year
Yet somehow he was the "Jordan of old" from 1996-98?
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Old 09-12-2011, 04:22 PM
 
Location: Texas
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All this talk is nonsense. The Rockets deserved those two championships more than any other team.

Michael Jordan didn't win anything till all the great teams of the 80s were either no more or too old and on their last legs (Lakers). Maybe we should put an asterisk next to Jordan's rings while we're at it.
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Old 09-12-2011, 04:25 PM
 
Location: Earth
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfre81 View Post
Yes.



Yet somehow he was the "Jordan of old" from 1996-98?
Ummm...yes? He had an entire off-season to rededicate himself to basketball fitness, work on his game, refine his post-game. And when I say the Jordan of old, I don't mean the same kind of player; his game had evolved and was much more cerebral, despite the loss of physical explosiveness due to the aging process. He compensated for this by completely re-defining his game.

So he wasn't the 'Jordan of old' as far as the style of play, but he pretty much was in terms of dominance, and ultimately, in the results. Which, was a second 3peat with an entirely new cast of players aside from Pippen. Are you really suggesting that 95 Jordan was playing at the same level as 96 Jordan? 96 Jordan was on top of his game completely; 95 Jordan still displayed greatness but was clearly rusty from the lay-off. Hell, take a look at Jordan's home video 'Above and beyond'. He more or less admits himself that he had reservations about being able to have the same level of dominance( this was his sentiments after the playoff loss to the Magic).
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Old 09-12-2011, 04:31 PM
 
Location: Earth
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Quote:
Originally Posted by achickenchaser View Post

Michael Jordan didn't win anything till all the great teams of the 80s were either no more or too old and on their last legs (Lakers).
I love this particular argument. Take a look at Jordan's teammates during the Lakers-Celtics 80's heyday, and tell me how Jordan as a singular force was supposed to overcome those teams? Basketball, as stated earlier, is a team sport. He didn't have a championship caliber unit around him until those teams were aged, but is that his fault? Last I checked, the Pistons were a year removed from their championship when the Bulls swept them and were far from too old, the Lakers weren't the mid-80's Lakers but they sure as hell weren't table scraps. Hell, Magic had won the MVP the year before the Bulls won in 91, so he was hardly over the hill.
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Old 09-12-2011, 04:38 PM
 
Location: Avondale, Chicago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg1977 View Post
Are you really suggesting that 95 Jordan was playing at the same level as 96 Jordan?
His numbers were better in the '95 playoffs than in '96. But the Bulls were better in 1996, that was the difference.

Quote:
Hell, take a look at Jordan's home video 'Above and beyond'. He more or less admits himself that he had reservations about being able to have the same level of dominance( this was his sentiments after the playoff loss to the Magic).
You think he'd have said anything like that if the Bulls won that year?

Sorry, but I don't see where the difference between 1995 Jordan and 1996 Jordan would've been enough to make the difference between losing in six to an Orlando team that got swept by the Rockets and winning the NBA championship.
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Old 09-12-2011, 04:56 PM
 
Location: Earth
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfre81 View Post
His numbers were better in the '95 playoffs than in '96. But the Bulls were better in 1996, that was the difference.
And as I said, stats don't tell the whole story. He had a 48 point explosion, that, within the context of a 10 game playoff run, would boost his numbers. Beyond that, he wasn't the same player. And yes, the Bull were better in 96 and I've never argued otherwise.


Quote:
Originally Posted by jfre81 View Post

You think he'd have said anything like that if the Bulls won that year?

Sorry, but I don't see where the difference between 1995 Jordan and 1996 Jordan would've been enough to make the difference between losing in six to an Orlando team that got swept by the Rockets and winning the NBA championship.
Obviously not, but in order for the Bulls to have won that year, would have required not only a better team, but required Jordan to be on peak form and he wasn't, so your question is moot. He wasn't the same, anyone watching those games would come to that conclusion. Well...most watching those games anyway. He was putting up some numbers, but he was making questionable late-game decisions, wasn't the closer we all were used to, and didn't have the same explosiveness around the rim. No, he was not the same.

As it is a team game( you said that, right?), Jordan being on top of his game along with his improved teammates( Rodman, a better Kukoc, etc etc) is the difference. Though, I don't recall arguing that 96 Jordan would have been enough to take the 95 Bulls over the top, they didn't have the roster for it( a glaring need of a power forward, for one). I merely argue that 96 Jordan was better than 95 Jordan, I didn't say that 96 Jordan would have led the 95 Bulls to the title with the roster they had. At most, I've said it would be a heck of a series to have the 95 Bulls ( with Jordan assuming he DIDN'T retire) and the Rockets. I've made no declarations one way or the other about who would win. In fact, I've said the 95 Rockets have a legit shot at beating the Bulls, especially without a credible power forward and practically nil offensive contributions from the center spot. What more do you want me to say?
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Old 09-12-2011, 05:06 PM
 
Location: Avondale, Chicago
14,421 posts, read 26,252,840 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg1977 View Post
Though, I don't recall arguing that 96 Jordan would have been enough to take the 95 Bulls over the top, they didn't have the roster for it( a glaring need of a power forward, for one). I merely argue that 96 Jordan was better than 95 Jordan, I didn't say that 96 Jordan would have led the 95 Bulls to the title with the roster they had.
Right, and my position has nothing to do with 1996. The topic at hand is people claiming the Rockets' championships in 1994 and 1995 were not legitimate, and that argument revolves around Jordan's absence.

Maybe Jordan's decision-making in the '95 playoffs was questionable because his team lacked the goods to make it happen and he tried to find a way to make it happen. Same forces at work there as when Brett Favre throws an interception in overtime of an NFC championship game. That said, that doesn't do much to support the idea that the Rockets' championship was not legitimate.
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