Posted on 21 November 2009 by Wanna Be Sports Guy
The two most important decades of the NBA brought the two best teams, maybe of all-time. During the 1980s Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul Jabbar led the talented Lakers to 9 championship appearances and 5 titles. Their style of play was known as Showtime. The Chicago Bulls of the 1990s were led by perhaps the greatest player of all-time, Michael Jordan, but he too had help. Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman helped Chicago win 6 championships in the 1990s, making them the team of that decade, so who’s better, the 1980’s Lakers or the 1990s Chicago Bulls?
Kareem arrived in Los Angeles in 1975 but needed help in order to win a championship, so in the 1979 NBA Draft, the Lakers selected Magic Johnson from Michigan State. Magic instantly turned around not only the Lakers franchise, but the entire NBA. Magic had a style unlike any other player in the league, and with Kareem leading the way, the Lakers were a dominate force to be reckoned with. However, other Lakers also helped with the team’s success. During the early years of the 1980s, Magic got help from Norm Nixon, Jamal Wilkes, Jim Chones, Kurt Rambis, and Michael Cooper. Teams in the NBA just couldn’t keep up with the fast pace Lakers and it showed as they won 2 titles from 1980-1982.
The Lakers transformed their team during the middle part of the 80s by adding Hall of Fame players Bob McAdoo and James Worthy. They also added sharp shooting guard Bryon Scott. In 1985, the Lakers had one of the greatest teams of all-time. Led by coach Pat Riley, they had 4 future Hall of Fame players, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, James Worthy and Bob McAdoo. They capped off their season by finally winning the championship against their oldest rival, the Boston Celtics.
The Lakers became the first team in 19 years to win it back to back, when they beat the Detroit Pistons in the 1988 NBA Finals, becoming the team of the decade. Most people will remember the Lakers in the 1980s as the “Showtime” era, which included exciting fast breaks and jaw dropping passes from Magic. Could the 80s Lakers compete with the 90s Bulls? Of course they could.
The 1990s were ruled by the Chicago Bulls. Chicago’s good will took a turn for the better in 1984 when they drafted Michael Jordan. The Bulls were a good team with only Jordan, but it was painfully obvious that Jordan couldn’t make it to the Finals without any help. So, in 1987, the Bulls drafted foward Scottie Pippen, who became Jordan’s sidekick throughout the 90s. The Bulls added more firepower to their team by hiring Phil Jackson to coach and help Chicago get over the hump and beat their rival, the Detroit Pistons.
With Jackson at the helm, Chicago won three straight titles from 1991-1993. The Bulls had a great mixture of players to go along with Jordan and Pippen. Players like John Paxon, Horace Grant, B.J. Armstrong and Bill Cartwright helped the Bulls become the first team since the 1969 Boston Celtics to win three straight championships.
Chicago’s success continued in 1996 after Jordan ’struck out’ with the Chicago White Sox baseball organization. The 1996 season saw the Bulls win a record 72 games and the return of the Bulls dominance. Dennis Rodman was the key factor in winning three straight titles from 1996-1998. Rodman’s style of play frustrated his opponents, especially Karl Malone of the Utah Jazz, who was knocked off his game during the 1997 and 1998 NBA Finals. Reliable players such as Steve Kerr and Ron Harper contributed to Chicago’s success and their place in NBA history by becoming the team of the decade in the 1990s.
So who’s number one? The Showtime Lakers teams of the 1980s or the record setting Bulls of the 1990s? Here’s a few things not to forget when deciding who’s the best. The Lakers had the ultimate Center in Kareem Abdul Jabbar, who had the unblockable and unstoppable Sky Hook. They also had the greatest passer of all-time, Magic Johnson. The Bulls had arguably the best player the world has ever seen in Michael Jordan. The Bulls were also coached by Phil Jackson, the greatest NBA coach of all time (No one is a better coach than John Wodden).
- John A. Roberts
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