"Can you actually achieve greatness without defeating greatness?" This is the question I will attempt to answer in this final installment of the Jordan series. When speaking of Jordan's individual greatness, his six championships are his claim to fame, the nail in his "greatness" coffin. But do these championships close the door on any argument as to whether he is the greatest player ever to live? That, I'm not completely sure of.
Many Jordanites not only believe that Jordan is the greatest ever, but that his Chicago Bulls were the greatest NBA team of all-time. But they never can defend this simple fact: Jordan's Bulls NEVER defeated greatness. The only time they faced greatness IMO was 86' and 87'(got swept by the Celtics both times in the first round), in 88'(lost to Pistons 4-1), in 89'(lost to Pistons 4-2), and in 90'(lost to Pistons 4-3).
Finally in 91' the Bulls got by the Pistons, defeating them 4-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals. A Piston's team whose greatness, unfortunately for Piston fans, had finally slipped away. Vinnie Johnson was one year away from being retired, Bill Laimbeer two years away, and Mark Aguirre and Isiah Thomas were both three years away. The Bulls would go on to defeat an over-the-hill Lakers team in the championship, a Lakers team without Kareem, an aging James Worthy, led by Magic Johnson, who would himself retire the following summer, shocking the world with his HIV announcement.
The following two seasons the Bulls would again win championships defeating Drexler's Blazers in 92' and Barkley's Suns in 93'(both of which started Danny Ainge in the backcourt). While both were good teams, neither could be considered "great" by any stretch of the imagination.
After a brief baseball hiatus, Jordan's Bulls would win three more championships, defeating the flash-in-the-pan Sonics in 96' and two more against Stockton and Malone's Jazz in 97' and 98'.
In fact, over the course of their entire championship run, there were only two teams that they faced in the entire playoffs who had titles under their belts. The before mentioned Pistons and Lakers of 91'. In comparison, during the Pistons' Championship run of 88'-90', the Pistons defeated teams who would account for a total of 14 championships in the 80's and 90's. Yet few would even put the Pistons of the late eighties in the same category as the mighty Bulls of the 90's.
Again, Jordan's six championships add to his legacy, his God-like status if you will. But do these six championships equal Magic's five titles? Or Bird's three? Or even the Piston's Two? I personally do not think so. Over the course of sports history, greatness has been measured against greatness. Magic had Bird. Ali had Frazier. McEnroe had Borg. Chamberlin had Russell, etc, etc...
The 90's were full of great players, hall of fame players. But through no fault of their own, the Bulls would play in a decade void of great TEAMS. I am not blaming them, nor do I blame Roy Jones Jr. for fighting in the era he did. If Roy Jones had fought in the eighties, against the likes of Hagler, Hearns, Duran, and Sugar Ray, he would probably be the greatest fighter known to man. But he didn't, so he is not. That is why, again, in my opinion, Jordan and the Bulls were hella-OVERATED.
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