When the Bulls went 72-10 in 1995-1996, it was the best single season win-loss mark the NBA had ever seen. Since that time, it’s become the professional basketball version of Hank Aaron’s homerun record.
When Miami assembled their “Big 3” in LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, many pundits suggested the Heat could take down the Bulls' historic mark. To date, they haven’t come close.
Now with the Los Angeles Lakers acquiring Dwight Howard in a trade on Thursday to go along with Steve Nash – whom they also acquired in a trade – Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, there have been murmurs that the Bulls record could once again be in jeopardy.
From a talent standpoint, the Lakers certainly have a realistic shot.
Kobe Bryant is the second-best shooting guard ever behind Michael Jordan, Steve Nash is one of the best players to ever play the point guard position, and Dwight Howard is currently the most dominant big man in the league right now. All three are certain to be Hall of Famers, and when you add one of the best international imports to ever play in Pau Gasol, on paper, it seems possible.
Paper and hardwood may be kin, but they are still two different things.
Lots of things must happen for the Lakers – or anyone – to reach the 72-10 mark. They need to jell as a team and also remain healthy, which is the most important aspect. Nash and Bryant both have battled injuries over the last few seasons and if one of those guys gets hurt, everything changes.
And any discussion of taking down the Bulls record begins with talent, but always ends with coaching.
Mike Brown coached the Cleveland Cavaliers to consecutive 60-plus win seasons when he had LeBron James, but last season with Kobe, Pau and Andrew Bynum, the Lakers were more or less just an average basketball team. Brown is a good coach, but he’s no Phil Jackson.
He also doesn’t employ the triangle that was the centerpiece of the Bulls' (and Lakers') success under Jackson.
The Lakers will be very good and the Howard trade moves them to the front of the line in terms of teams with a good shot at winning a title next year, but the Bulls' historic record is probably safe.