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Thread: Hypothetical NBA matchups: 1987 Lakers vs. 1996 Bulls

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    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    Default Hypothetical NBA matchups: 1987 Lakers vs. 1996 Bulls

    I've been an NBA (and particularly, LA Lakers) fan since Magic Johnson was a rookie in 1979-1980. One of my most pleasant childhood memories was watching the 20-year old Magic Johnson take over for an injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Game 6 of the 1980 NBA World Championship series (they didn't start calling it the "NBA Finals" until 1987) and scored 42 points, grabbed 15 rebounds, dished out 7 assists, and made 2 blocks to win the championship for the Lakers over Dr. J and the Philadelphia 76ers. It was the first of five NBA championships that Magic and the Lakers would win in the decade to come.

    The 1990s belonged to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Their first victim was none other than the last of Magic's Lakers teams...which was aging and had already lost Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Cooper, and Coach Pat Riley from the glory days of the Showtime years. Jordan's Bulls would dominate the 1990s in a manner not unlike how the Magic's Lakers had dominated the 1980s.

    The best of the Lakers teams of the 1980s was undoubtedly the 1986-1987 team, which finished with a record of 69-13 before defeating the Larry Bird-led Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals. By comparison, the best of the Bulls teams of the 1990s was the 1995-1996 team, which went an NBA best 72-10 before beating the Seattle Supersonics in the NBA Finals.

    So...the 1987 Lakers squad vs. the 1996 Bulls squad in a 7 game series. Who takes it?

    Here are the significant players for both teams:

    LAKERS:

    1G: Magic Johnson
    2G: Byron Scott
    3F: James Worthy
    4F: A.C. Green
    5C: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

    Bench: Michael Cooper (2G, 3F), Mychal Thompson (5C)

    Coach: Pat Riley

    BULLS:

    1G: Ron Harper
    2G: Michael Jordan
    3F: Scottie Pippen
    4F: Dennis Rodman
    5C: Luc Longley

    Bench: Steve Kerr (2G), Toni Kukoc (4F)

    Coach: Phil Jackson

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    Senior Member Bangs's Avatar
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    Its pretty hard to say since both teams has very very good players. I would like to say Lakers will win but Jordan is a complete basketball player. Although Jordan doesn't hold every title of basketball achievements, I do believe he lives up to the hype. This is proven in his year and a half absence, the Bulls couldn't reach the finals without him and upon his return mid-season of 95 he led his team to the semis but lost to orlando and then dominated the three following seasons. Up to this day, in my humble opinion I think no one in the NBA can be compared to Jordan.

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    Moderator Ken Cheng's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bangs View Post
    Its pretty hard to say since both teams has very very good players. I would like to say Lakers will win but Jordan is a complete basketball player. Although Jordan doesn't hold every title of basketball achievements, I do believe he lives up to the hype. This is proven in his year and a half absence, the Bulls couldn't reach the finals without him and upon his return mid-season of 95 he led his team to the semis but lost to orlando and then dominated the three following seasons. Up to this day, in my humble opinion I think no one in the NBA can be compared to Jordan.
    Jordan was something else, but could even he counter the Lakers' advantage in the low post with Abdul-Jabbar still great (though past his prime)? The Bulls' main disadvantage would be what they would do to counter Abdul-Jabbar; I think they (the Bulls) have the answer for nearly every other Lakers' position except this one.

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    Senior Member Bangs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Cheng View Post
    Jordan was something else, but could even he counter the Lakers' advantage in the low post with Abdul-Jabbar still great (though past his prime)? The Bulls' main disadvantage would be what they would do to counter Abdul-Jabbar; I think they (the Bulls) have the answer for nearly every other Lakers' position except this one.
    Kareem's skyhook is surely a weapon to fear. Added to his height makes him an unstoppable monster in low post and key area. I'm thinking the only way to stop Kareem is to have Rodman guard him man to man such that his team mates won't be able to pass the ball to him and if they do make a successful pass, have someone come up and do a double team to stop his skyhook and make him pass the ball outside. The risk of such a strategy would be having someone in the Lakers have a free shot outside whenever Kareem gets a double team. I'm also taking into consideration that at this point in time Rodman should be able to tire Kareem out in man to man play due to his age.

    EDIT: Also take into consideration Jordan's ability to draw fouls, if he could get Kareem into foul trouble then the battle would shift towards the Bull's favor.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bangs View Post
    Kareem's skyhook is surely a weapon to fear. Added to his height makes him an unstoppable monster in low post and key area. I'm thinking the only way to stop Kareem is to have Rodman guard him man to man such that his team mates won't be able to pass the ball to him and if they do make a successful pass, have someone come up and do a double team to stop his skyhook and make him pass the ball outside. The risk of such a strategy would be having someone in the Lakers have a free shot outside whenever Kareem gets a double team. I'm also taking into consideration that at this point in time Rodman should be able to tire Kareem out in man to man play due to his age.
    That might work. Back in 1988, when Rodman was on the Pistons, that tactic wasn't particularly effective against Kareem, but the 1996 Rodman was much more experienced (and probably physically stronger) than his 1988 counterpart, so it might work. Rodman was effective against the likes of Karl Malone and Shaq during the late 1990s when those powerhouses were in their physical primes. It'd be interesting to see what Rodman might be able to do against a late 1980s Kareem, who was still formidable, but not the unstoppable force he had been in the 1970s.

    EDIT: Also take into consideration Jordan's ability to draw fouls, if he could get Kareem into foul trouble then the battle would shift towards the Bull's favor.
    Kareem has no business playing D on MJ. That's best left for Michael Cooper to handle.

    You don't stop MJ anyway; Coop might, however, be able to at least occupy MJ a bit and make him work for his points. Larry Bird once called Cooper the best defender he'd ever gone up against, and while that doesn't mean that Coop will stop Jordan, it's probably better than any other option the Lakers would have.

    I think the Worthy/Pippen duel would be interesting with both players in their primes. When they actually played each other in the 1991 Finals, Worthy was already aging and was injured (sprained ankle from Western Conference Finals series against Portland Trailblazers). Peak Worthy vs. peak Pippen would be something for the ages.

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    Senior Member Bangs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Cheng View Post
    Kareem has no business playing D on MJ. That's best left for Michael Cooper to handle.

    You don't stop MJ anyway; Coop might, however, be able to at least occupy MJ a bit and make him work for his points. Larry Bird once called Cooper the best defender he'd ever gone up against, and while that doesn't mean that Coop will stop Jordan, it's probably better than any other option the Lakers would have.
    Coop might give Jordan serious defense but I don't think it will work. Jordan is known for being a clutch performer, he knows when to strike and he will strike when its needed. The Bulls will find a way to stop Kareem but the Lakers will have trouble stopping MJ.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Cheng View Post
    I think the Worthy/Pippen duel would be interesting with both players in their primes. When they actually played each other in the 1991 Finals, Worthy was already aging and was injured (sprained ankle from Western Conference Finals series against Portland Trailblazers). Peak Worthy vs. peak Pippen would be something for the ages.
    This is actually a pretty good match up, both men at their peaks will be a sight to see. I can't really tell which of them are better at their peaks, each can hold his own against the other.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bangs View Post
    Coop might give Jordan serious defense but I don't think it will work. Jordan is known for being a clutch performer, he knows when to strike and he will strike when its needed. The Bulls will find a way to stop Kareem but the Lakers will have trouble stopping MJ.
    The key for the Lakers is to not let it get close enough for MJ to make a difference with a 4th Quarter rally. At their peak, the Lakers demoralized their opponents by attacking them with Showtime in wave after wave after wave. The mid-1980s Lakers teams often ran up 20-point leads on an opponent within just a few minutes of play.

    Whether or not they could do this successfully against the 90s Bulls, however, is the question. The Lakers had success doing this against the Celtics on some occassions, but most of the Lakers' opponents during those years were not nearly as good as the 80s Celtics or the 90s Bulls.

    It'll come down to whether or not the Bulls' defense can stop Magic Johnson from controlling the tempo of the game. They succeeded in doing just that in the 1991 Finals, but that was a weaker Lakers team that no longer ran the Showtime offense (Pat Riley was no longer their coach; Mike Dunleavy Sr. was). The 1987 Lakers, however, was definitely a running team.

    This is actually a pretty good match up, both men at their peaks will be a sight to see. I can't really tell which of them are better at their peaks, each can hold his own against the other.
    It could be a wash in the 3F duel.

    Magic should outplay Harper, and of course, MJ way outplays Byron Scott (although 1987 Scott could put up enough points to at least partially compensate for MJ's output).

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    i'd have to say...the 80s Celtics.
    nytimes: Every hr you have 10 minutes where youíre not doing anything productive at work, & you canít look at porn. So you make a comment & fulfill this desire to show yourself off as a smarty-pants.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pemberly View Post
    i'd have to say...the 80s Celtics.
    The Celtics got dominated by the Lakers. Larry Bird was cool though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bangs View Post
    The Celtics got dominated by the Lakers. Larry Bird was cool though.
    i'm happy to say i'm not old enough to remember.
    nytimes: Every hr you have 10 minutes where youíre not doing anything productive at work, & you canít look at porn. So you make a comment & fulfill this desire to show yourself off as a smarty-pants.

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    Senior Member MrPhotastic's Avatar
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    I've have to say 87 Lakers. They weren't called "Showtime" for nothing. An absolute beauty watching these guys played offfense. Man, where were these guys we I needed them on my fantasy roster!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by MrPhotastic View Post
    I've have to say 87 Lakers. They weren't called "Showtime" for nothing. An absolute beauty watching these guys played offfense. Man, where were these guys we I needed them on my fantasy roster!!!
    The Showtime Lakers were also an underrated defensive team. What many people forget is that it was some keen defense that enabled those waves of fast breaks. A James Worthy, Michael Cooper, or Magic Johnson steal (or conversely, a Kareem Abdul-Jabbar block) often triggered the break.

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    Senior Member Crazy8's Avatar
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    i will have to go with the BULLS.
    MJ will always find a way to win.
    If anything i see the bulls team having more Defense than the Lakers.
    MJ defensive man of the year couple times, we all know Scotty one of the best Defensive forwards out there, Rodman what else can i say the ball just goes to him, also if rodman can guard Shaq in his prime that well i dont see how he cant guard kreem. Longly is pure suckage but with him there to take up space is good enough for him to keep his rings.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crazy8 View Post
    Defensive forwards out there, Rodman what else can i say the ball just goes to him, also if rodman can guard Shaq in his prime that well i dont see how he cant guard kreem.
    This one is fairly easy to explain.

    Shaq, for all his immense strength, is a one-dimensional player. His offense is limited to the low-post area. Deny him his spots in the post, which Rodman can and has done, and he's got nothing else to counter with.

    Kareem was a much more skilled player than Shaq, and only slightly less powerful (don't let the comparatively thin build fool you; Kareem was stronger than he looked, especially after he trained in the martial arts with none other than Bruce Lee), but far more versatile. Take away the Skyhook (which is difficult enough as it is), and he'll post you up or spot up from 15-20 feet (which he could do with enough consistency to be a problem for most opponents). Rodman would find Kareem a harder assignment on defense than Shaq.

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    Senior Member Bangs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pemberly View Post
    i'm happy to say i'm not old enough to remember.
    I'm happy to say I'm not that old either since I was less than 10 years old in the 80's era.

    Quote Originally Posted by MrPhotastic View Post
    I've have to say 87 Lakers. They weren't called "Showtime" for nothing. An absolute beauty watching these guys played offfense. Man, where were these guys we I needed them on my fantasy roster!!!
    I have to admit I'm a bit biased towards the Bulls since it was their era when I started watching and playing basketball. I heard a lot about the 80s Lakers but I never really watched them play their best.

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    the Chicago Bulls for me.....

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    newer team should win, the players of the later age are much more skill than the early age, where scheme and plans wasn't as advance as before. If you put any of those team to play any of today's team they won't win. Talent is one thing but the game has change so much over the year.

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    Quote Originally Posted by warlock110 View Post
    newer team should win, the players of the later age are much more skill than the early age, where scheme and plans wasn't as advance as before. If you put any of those team to play any of today's team they won't win. Talent is one thing but the game has change so much over the year.
    New doesn't exactly warrant better. Name a team of this current season that could beat MJ's Bulls or Lakers 80s or even Bird's Celtics and state how and why they will win. Claiming that any team of today could beat the best of the 90s or 80s is a poor analysis. No disrespect intended.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bangs View Post
    New doesn't exactly warrant better. Name a team of this current season that could beat MJ's Bulls or Lakers 80s or even Bird's Celtics and state how and why they will win. Claiming that any team of today could beat the best of the 90s or 80s is a poor analysis. No disrespect intended.
    I've give you 1 very good reason, the early day of basketball doesn't rely on scheme, it's pure shooting/speed/power. New doesn't always = better, but in case of sport it is. That's why they studies and come up with new things in term of fitness and condition, athletes of today trains with better method, better machine, better drugs, you see their speed and power keep on increasing over the year. I'm sorry but as great as some of the players back then, you put them next to the players today, the difference will be pretty big.

    No disrespect to the athletes before, they were great, in their own time. Not so much today. You look at players such as kobe, lebron, steve nash, their numbers aren't as great as players before them, but they sure as hell are faster, smarter, stronger ect.. it's just that the defensive game of basketball have move up a bunch over the years.

    but the most important thing is scheme, today's game are much more complicated than before, simply because they learned from mistakes of the past, or else the game will come to a hault and no one will need to hire coaches anymore.

    oh, and the drugs are better too, steriods are getting much more advanced than before. hehe, that's why they're better athletes now than they were before.
    Last edited by warlock110; 12-28-07 at 01:04 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bangs View Post
    New doesn't exactly warrant better. Name a team of this current season that could beat MJ's Bulls or Lakers 80s or even Bird's Celtics and state how and why they will win. Claiming that any team of today could beat the best of the 90s or 80s is a poor analysis. No disrespect intended.
    the Shaq and Kobe combine look pretty good

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