The Sporting News magazine is spending the year solving debates in the sports world, in commemoration of their 125th anniversary. This month’s debate focused on the NBA, with the magazine tackling the debate of who the greatest single-season team in NBA history was.
In what is sure to be one of a few representatives from Chicago amid the “Greatest of All Time” debates they will solve, the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls squad was named the greatest team in NBA history.
It’s not that difficult to see why the Bulls were able to beat out great Los Angeles Lakers or Boston Celtics teams from years and decades before.
Of course, it was a team that featured Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, as well as Dennis Rodman in his first year as a Bull after being traded by the San Antonio Spurs.
It was a team that featured several records and accolades, from up and down the roster. Jordan averaged over 30 points per game, as well as just over two steals per. Rodman was good for 15 boards a game, while Pippen and Tony Kukoc were the only two other Bulls to average in double figures in terms of scoring, with 19 and 13 PPG, respectively.
For the team that won 72 games, and NBA record, they certainly weren’t generous in sharing awards. Jordan won three different MVPs, taking it home for the NBA’s regular season, the NBA Finals, and the All Star Game. He was also named to the All-NBA defensive team, as well as the All-NBA team, as he led the entire league in every scoring category.
But Jordan wasn’t the only one to take home some accolades from that season. Phil Jackson was named Coach of the Year. Pippen joined Jordan on the All-NBA first team, and both he and Rodman were featured on the NBA’s All-Defensive team as well. And Kukoc was named Sixth Man of the Year.
The ’95-’96 Bulls team was the only non-Lakers or Celtics team in the top five, but they weren’t the only Chicago team in the Top 10. The ’91-’92 team, which was the season in which the Bulls won their first NBA title, was ranked No. 9.
That 72-win team continues to be the benchmark for these powerhouse teams like the Celtics’ Big Three in ’07, and this year’s Big Three for the Miami heat. Neither team was able to eclipse the mark, and it remains to be seen if anyone will ever be able to even touch it, let alone beat it.