I think MJ is the greatest player I’ve ever seen. But I don’t think the 6 rings are the definitive reason for why. I think the rings are as much timing as anything else.
MJ beat the Lakers, Trailblazers, Suns, Sonics, and Jazz twice. All of those teams were good; none were elite, none could win during his 2 years off. That doesn’t mean they were bad teams, but they didn’t challenge the Bulls. Would any of those teams have beaten the Heat? I’d think at least the Trailblazers and Suns would have had a shot. But would the Heat be afraid of any of them? Would they be able to guard LeBron and Wade any better than MJ and Pippen?
Would the Heat beat the Bulls? I don’t see why it wouldn’t be close: LeBron v. MJ; Wade v. Pippen; Bosh v. Rodman…not a bad series, for sure. Bulls would certainly have the psychological edge–Rodman would eat up Bosh emotionally; MJ would, as he says, push LeBron left and push him to stand up for himself. But I bet LeBron would adjust, go to the low post, and exploit the Bulls lack of inside strength.
Another question is whether MJ would have gotten 6 rings in other eras? Probably not in the ’80s with Bird and Magic. Would Bird or Magic have gotten 6 rings in the ’90s? Would MJ’s Bulls beat the Lakers of Kobe and Shaq? Of the premier teams of the 80s, 90s, 2000s, 2010s, we’ve got…
Bird Celtics: 81, 84, 86 (lost, 85, 87)
Magic Lakers: 80, 82, 85, 87-88 (lost, 82, 83, 89, 91)
MJ Bulls: 91-93, 96-98
Kobe Lakers: 00-02, 09-10 (lost, 04, 08)
LJ Heat: 2012, (lost 2011)
Two things: First, is anyone going to be surprised if the Heat win this year? Who is likely to beat them? And next year, as well, barring another super-team forming? I don’t see anyone challenging them, unless let’s say KG goes to the Clippers or the Thunder get another guy. Aren’t the Knicks and Carmelo the equivalent of the Ewing Knicks of the ’90s? Aren’t the Thunder right now the equivalent of the Drexler Blazers of the ’90s? I think LeBron is going to start stacking up rings by default.
Second, of these super teams, who beats who? I don’t think the Bulls are the clear #1. The Magic Lakers are probably the most balanced, followed by the Bird Celtics. Put all 5 of these teams in the same year and who comes out? I don’t doubt the MJ Bulls beat the Heat. But I don’t know that the Bulls beat the Celtics or Lakers. I also doubt the Heat beat the Kobe-Shaq Lakers.
The MJ article by Wright Thompson on ESPN just made me sad. I loved MJ. I get that the reason MJ was MJ is now the reason MJ is MJ. I get it. But poor MJ.