Sorry Patriot fans, Bulls are the greatest sports dynasty
By John Burbridge
People have come to know, or will come to know, that posting half-baked opinions and rants on social media can result in eternal damnation that often can’t be deleted, rewritten or explained away with me-misunderstood defense pleas.
Well before the advent of Facebook, Twitter and other omnipresent platforms, I learned the consequences of shooting from the keypad before allowing my brain to fully reach my fingertips. This education happened shortly after I worked my way through college as a correspondent/columnist getting paid by the printed inch for a small publication in Crown Point, Indiana.
Back then I was as I am now a Chicago Bulls fan.
After watching my beloved Bulls get throttled by the Detroit Pistons in Game 7 of the 1990 Eastern Conference Finals, I was inspired to write an open-letter-like piece suggesting that the Bulls should trade Scottie Pippen for Dennis Rodman straight up, no questions asked.
Believe it or not, I didn’t get much hate mail for that. Of course back then you had to actually mail your grievances in, stamped envelope included.
Some fellow Bulls fans probably felt much like I did. Before he became an all-star, defensive player of the year, multiple rebounding champion, diva-dating MTV celebrity, pro wrestler and ultimately a hall-of-famer, Rodman was the quintessential garbage man who had a penchant for digging NBA titles out of the trash. In the said elimination game, Dennis was a menace with his tradecraft gamesmanship and fist-pumping as well as fist-attracting showboating.
Pippen, who had recently lost his father, was plagued with migraine headaches during his team’s final game of the season, and was ineffective.
I knew Pippen was likely going to be a star for years to come while at the same time thinking that Rodman would soon wash out of the league to become an obscure answer to an obscure trivia question. But I thought the Bulls had a better chance to win an NBA championship — back then I would have been fine with just one, no need to be greedy — with Rodman than with Pippen.
Needless to note, I’m no Jerry Krause, the Bulls’ late and if not great at least under-appreciated general manager at that time.
History turned out to be much kinder to Pippen, Rodman and the Bulls than I could have ever imagined. Periodically during that glorious span, “fans” of my writing and sports acumen or lack thereof would send me photocopied reminders of that column.
Can’t complain too much. As most may know, the Bulls eventually got Rodman. Got to keep Pippen, too. Though they did have to give up Will Perdue.
Bitter rivals as opponents, Pippen and Rodman shelved their differences and both had the best seasons of their careers — especially on the defensive end — while helping lead the greatest basketball team of all time to a 72-win regular season and the franchise’s fourth NBA title.
Note the phrase “helping lead” as Pippen and Rodman couldn’t have done it without their teammates, in particular some guy named Michael.
Now that I anointed the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls the GOAT, I might as well go all in.
The Chicago Bulls (1990-1998) are the greatest sports dynasty of all time.
Sorry New England Patriot fans.
Before any letter bombs — only from stamped envelopes, please — let me express my admiration for what the Patriots have accomplished. Football has far more moving parts than basketball with 11 offensive positions and 11 defensive positions needing to be filled not including special teams. And even for playoff teams and defending Super Bowl champions, nearly half of their players in those 22 starting roles may need to be replaced the following season in part due to salary-cap restrictions and to avoid major pay-outs to non-guaranteed contracts.
If a basketball team can be graced with the best player in the league who can consistently remain healthy, including a handful of able supporting cast members complemented with a few one- or two-dimensional role players — even those cut from the Vancouver Grizzlies — as well as an innovative coach and system to boot can more easily lead to a string of titles.
Thus, the degree of difficulty in maintaining a standard of excellence in football — like the Patriots had/have managed to do — is much higher.
That said, my prime reason for ranking the Bulls over the Patriots is that the former — like Rocky Marciano — never was dethroned. After winning six titles in eight seasons, the Bulls broke up just like The Beatles.
The cool thing about The Beatles was that they never reunited, never had a comeback tour … never had to publicly sign contract oaths vowing that their upcoming “final tour” is just that and not some repeatable ploy to amp up ticket sales.
But as for the Bulls, they are coming back as ESPN is airing a 10-part documentary focusing on the dynasty’s final season. The Last Dance was scheduled to be released in June, but with live sports laid low due to the pandemic, the miniseries is filling the void with two 60-minute episodes running every Sunday from April 19 through May 17.
A lot has happened since the Bulls won their last title nearly 22 years ago. Not all of it good.
And even though the Bulls’ dynasty was never dethroned, several of the team’s principal characters couldn’t escape from being humbled by the game.
Mastery of a sport is temporary. The sport itself — like death — will always be undefeated.
Sure, Michael Jordan was a great player. Sure, Phil Jackson was a great coach. But their respective performances as team executives have been checkered to say the least.
Just like me, they have proven themselves to be no Jerry Krause.