I Played Little League Once: Basketball: Battle of the Decades?

Sean+Lynch
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I Played Little League Once: Basketball: Battle of the Decades?

Sean Lynch

Sean Lynch

Sean Lynch

Sean Lynch

Sean Lynch, Reporter

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With the Golden State Warriors on the brink of surpassing the ’95-’96 Chicago Bulls for wins in a season, people are becoming witnesses to perhaps the greatest debate in sports. Who would win the matchup between the two greats?

Watch enough NBA games on TNT and you know that Kenny “The Jet” Smith and Charles Barkley think the Bulls would win easily. Ask the younger generation of players and reporters and they’ll tell you by the numbers, the Warriors would win the match-up.

One can’t deny that the Warriors have revolutionized the modern game with their use of the 3-point shot, something that teams under utilized in the ‘90s.

There are so many factors that go into this debate that one has to wonder whether it’s a debate worth having. The style of play and the rules were different 20 years ago, so how can we compare the two?

First, let’s take a look at the starting five for each team:

2015-16 Warriors

Player GP GS MIN PPG OFF R DEF R RPG APG SPG BPG TPG

Steph Curry

78 78 34.2 29.9 0.9 4.6 5.5 6.7 2.14 0.19 3.3

Klay Thompson

79 79 33.4 22.2 0.4 3.4 3.8 2.1 0.76 0.61 1.7

Harrison Barnes

65 58 30.9 11.7 1.2 3.7 4.9 1.8 0.63 0.15 0.8

Draymond Green

80 80 34.7 14.0 1.6 7.9 9.5 7.4 1.48 1.40 3.2

Andrew Bogut

69 65 20.8 5.4 1.7 5.3 7.1 2.3 0.48 1.62 1.2

1995-96 Bulls

If this dream matchup were to occur, when and where would it take place? A lot has changed in the league since the Bulls second the single season win record:

Although hand checking was disallowed before 1995, there was plenty more contact allowed around the perimeter. Curry wouldn’t have as much freedom as he does now.

Physicality was much more acceptable 20 years ago. Curry and Thompson would need to be able to handle a lot more contact. Visa versa, the Bulls wouldn’t be able to play their hard-nosed physical defense in today’s game.

The 3-point line was moved in from 23 to 22 feet from 1994-97. Imagine what the three-point percentage for the splash brothers would be!

Let’s take a look at how the two teams would match up by position:

   Point Guard: Steph Curry vs. Ron Harper

Harper wasn’t much of an offensive threat in 1995-96 compared to the previous year when he averaged 20 points per game. Although he started most of the season, he split minutes with Steve Kerr (the current Warriors coach).

More than likely, Harper wouldn’t be tasked with defending Curry. He’s just too lanky and not quick enough. The Bulls would put either Jordan or Pippen to fight his speed with their athleticism.

Shooting Guard: Klay Thompson vs. Michael Jordan

Thompson has become a better defender each year he’s been in the league, but Michael Jordan is in his own league.

   Small Forward: Harrison Barnes vs. Scotty Pippen

Pippen wins this battle 10 out of 10 times. If Pippen were to defend Curry, that would more than likely put the 6’6”, Harper on Barnes. If that’s the case, Barnes would have an opportunity to take Harper.

   Power Forward: Draymond Green vs. Dennis Rodman

Both men are gladiators in the paint. These two would drive each other mad, more than likely leading to a few technical fouls. Rodman has the advantage on the glass. Green will dominate the offensive battle.

   Center: Andrew Bogut vs. Luc Longly

The Warriors playbook only has a handful of plays for Andrew Bogut. The perimeter threat they bring completely eliminates Bogut except for his ability to pass the ball to Curry and Thompson.

Similarly, Longly is no real offensive threat. Both men will battle for rebounds and fight for second chance points.

At the end of the day, does it really matter who would win? Just like the MJ vs. Lebron debate, there is no definitive answer. Both teams excelled in different eras as the style of play has changed over time.

Respect greatness for what it is. There’s no denying the 1995-96 Bulls will go down as one of the best, if not the best of all time, but the Warriors are making a strong argument to be labeled the best team since. So sit back, put your feet up, and enjoy the show that they put on every night.