Don't cry, Golden State Warriors fans, for there is no shame in losing to Michael Jordan in his prime. Ask Magic Johnson. Ask Clyde Drexler. Ask Charles Barkley. Ask John Stockton. Ask Gary Payton. The list of NBA Hall of Famers that lost in the postseason to Jordan and his Chicago Bulls over the final six full seasons (1991-93, 1996-98) of his prime is endless. Stephen Curry would be no different, in truth.
The news today that former Jordan teammate Ron Harper downplayed the Warriors' recent success wasn't surprising. Old-school athletes often insist they would be able to beat the current studs. Remember Jim Brown telling everyone that Franco Harris couldn't hold his jock? We do. No old-timer athlete wants to fade from the limelight.
In reality, even the current San Francisco 49ers team could beat the legendary 1972 Miami Dolphins, based simply on sheer size and speed advantages. Comparing teams across eras is somewhat silly, because it's an exercise in futility. They'll never play each other, of course, but it really gives people something to talk about it, doesn't it?
(Perhaps the Warriors head coach, Steve Kerr, would know something about this matchup, as he played with Jordan's Bulls in 1996. He remains silent on the matter, though, for now.)
However, here's the dish on the Warriors and Jordan's Bulls: There's no way Curry and Co. would beat Michael, Scotty, Rodman, et al, in a seven-game series, with each team in its prime. All the metrics you want to throw out there won't change the fact that the opponent is Michael Jordan. That somewhat ends the argument right there. The Warriors should just focus on being the best they can be right now as they look to defend their 2015 NBA title.
In the meantime, though, here are five reasons why the 1996 Chicago Bulls would beat the 2015 Golden State Warriors in a seven-game series:
- Michael Jordan: MJ once won the NBA's scoring title and the Defensive Player of the Year Award in the same season (1987-88). Jordan would lock on to the Warriors' heart—Curry—and shut him down, leaving the rest of the team discombobulated. Meanwhile, there is no one on the Golden State roster to guard Jordan, because there's no one in the history of the game that was ever able to do so. Toss in the simple competitiveness factor—there has never been a soul in basketball history to take a challenge to his greatness so personally as MJ—and the Warriors wouldn't stand a chance.
- Dennis Rodman: The Worm is without a doubt the best rebounder the NBA has seen since the days of Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell. Talk about Jordan's intensity ... Rodman was ferocious as a rebounder in the mid-1990s. Even at age 34 in 1996, Rodman was winning the fifth of seven straight NBA rebounding titles. No one on the current Warriors roster has this kind of glass-cleaning ability. Rodman alone would keep the Warriors struggling to get second chances.
- Scottie Pippen: He may be overrated because Jordan made him that much better (see below), but Pippen still was an athletic freak of nature with the ability to score and defend at very high levels. It would be fun to watch Draymond Green and Pippen battle for 48 minutes a night, but with Jordan locking down Curry and Rodman single-handedly eliminating the Golden State front court, Pippen would be drawing foul after foul on Green. There's just no one on this roster to matchup with Pippen, period.
- Ron Harper: The mouth himself that started this whole debate was also known as a pretty good defender in his day. He led the NBA in steals during his rookie year! As a 10-year veteran on the 1996 Bulls, he wasn't there to score. He was there to shut down the opponent's backcourt, along with Jordan. Harper would tie Klay Thompson up in knots, because Thompson would not be open for clear looks with Jordan on Curry all game long. If the Warriors can't hit from downtown, they lose. The Bulls backcourt would not let Curry and Thompson do much splashing in a seven-game series.
- The "X" factor: Golden State lost two games in the NBA Finals to LeBron James and a cast of nobodies. Like Jordan, LeBron makes everyone around him better to the point he literally carried a depleted Cleveland roster to within two games of the NBA title. Now, think Jordan, Rodman, Pippen, Harper and Kerr against these Warriors. If LeBron and Nobody could take two games from Golden State, Jordan and Everybody would easily win four games against the Warriors. That's just basic logic, people. A sweep would be probable.