The Last Dance

reggiecleveland

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I am convinced of two things.

1. There is something not revealed about Jordan leaving to play baseball. Either a suspension or the very least an nba investigation. Stern had to do something.

2. Without his embarrassing failure in baseball he is not driven to be great again, and gets exhausted, bored. With his personality he had to reestablish dominance.
 

BigSoxFan

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I am convinced of two things.

1. There is something not revealed about Jordan leaving to play baseball. Either a suspension or the very least an nba investigation. Stern had to do something.

2. Without his embarrassing failure in baseball he is not driven to be great again, and gets exhausted, bored. With his personality he had to reestablish dominance.
Honestly surprised #1 has never leaked. Nothing. Zilch.
 

SemperFidelisSox

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A lot has leaked out over the years. Hell, Stern hired an attorney to investigate Jordan. The IRS found a check from Jordan in the account of a drug trafficker. They also found checks in a briefcase of a dead bail bondsman. Jordan was neck deep in the shady underworld of gambling.
 

donutogre

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I do feel like there's no smoking gun to the whole "NBA secretly suspended Jordan" thing, though. There are clear hints that he was doing some serious gambling of course, but as for the NBA being behind the suspension, I am not aware of anything leaking that would point to that being the case. Maybe I'm naive, but I just don't buy it.
 

PedroKsBambino

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I’m legit fascinated by that angle. Rationally, you just have to feel like there is nothing to it absent some clear evidence he was suspended.

and.....

there are some weird facts out there, as noted above. Plus his father’s murder is a strange set of facts as well.

I personally have it in the “conspiracy theory” category but it’s not nearly as laughable to ask why he walked away as some other conspiracy theories. I’d give it a totally-made-up 25% chance he was stealth suspended.
 

bankshot1

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The huge gambling debts, the questionable people he was gambling with, the coincidental murder of his father, and his 2 year sabbatical suggests a deal might have been cut between Jordan-Reinsdorf-Stern to limit the reputational hit to Jordan and the NBA, and to keep the conspritorial circle of trust limited.

Or he always wanted to play baseball.
 

InstaFace

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I do feel like there's no smoking gun to the whole "NBA secretly suspended Jordan" thing, though. There are clear hints that he was doing some serious gambling of course, but as for the NBA being behind the suspension, I am not aware of anything leaking that would point to that being the case. Maybe I'm naive, but I just don't buy it.
it's all a Bill Simmons-stoked trope at this point. He hasn't let go of that one or the Ewing "frozen envelope" theory. Fanatic about it: he won't change his mind and can't change the subject.

Stern knew Jordan was the golden goose and was making everyone involved in the NBA 20% richer year-over-year. There's no way he did shit or was going to do shit. I'd believe they might have had a heart-to-heart at some point - they seemed to genuinely like each other, way more than Jordan liked any other exec whom he didn't play against on the court - but threaten him? If he was trying to protect Jordan from himself, the exact way to get him to go do stupid shit was to threaten him with any sort of punishment.

If there was a heart-to-heart about getting his life and emotions in order, Stern took it to his grave and MJ may as well. But there's no way Jordan's sabbatical was driven by anything other than Jordan's own emotions and exhaustion, needing to refuel his competitive fire.
 

Marciano490

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Was Jordan full of shit about never doing blow or partying with his teammates? Seems like he drinks a lot and has the gambling troubles, usually people who go for 2, hit the trifecta.
 

slamminsammya

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Was Jordan full of shit about never doing blow or partying with his teammates? Seems like he drinks a lot and has the gambling troubles, usually people who go for 2, hit the trifecta.
I dont know, he seemed pretty believable even adding the "back then" qualifier when he talked about it, implying that he had partaken at some point. Why lie if you are also implying that you tried later on?
 

Papelbon's Poutine

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Was Jordan full of shit about never doing blow or partying with his teammates? Seems like he drinks a lot and has the gambling troubles, usually people who go for 2, hit the trifecta.
I don’t see why he’d let it into the interview if there was something to hide. I’d have to imagine Falk and his PR firm went through the scripted questions with a magnifying glass.
 

reggiecleveland

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The guy first and foremost was a baller. No way he gets into drugs since that would affect his game performance. He came into the league 5a straight kid. Once he became a star he was worried about his image, and still over and over said it was all about him playing ball well. He did not see gambling as having s an effect on his basketball, and his befuddled response that anyone cared about it showed this. But the druggies on the shitty team were not guys he wanted to emulate.

Also, among things I forgot about 90s nba is what an insufferable shill for Jordan Ahmed Rashad was.
 
it's all a Bill Simmons-stoked trope at this point. He hasn't let go of that one or the Ewing "frozen envelope" theory. Fanatic about it: he won't change his mind and can't change the subject.
FWIW, Simmons and Russillo were talking about the gambling "suspension" theory in their podcast last Sunday night, and Simmons is now firmly in the "probably not a conspiracy" camp.
 

Bunt4aTriple

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FWIW, Simmons and Russillo were talking about the gambling "suspension" theory in their podcast last Sunday night, and Simmons is now firmly in the "probably not a conspiracy" camp.
Correct. He also admitted the Durant Dubs were a better team than the 86 Celtics. He has a shtick, but he's more self-aware than people give him credit for.
 

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Oof, Tito citing RBI as a measure of success while noting he just broke .200 in AA. C;mon man.

Can't help but wonder if Jordan agreed to this by limiting any talk of the double secret suspension. It got like 2 lines.
 

Greg29fan

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Maybe it's like believing the moon landing was fake but Stern suspending Jordan is the one "conspiracy theory" that I believe in 100%. I think he had a double goal of wanting to punish MJ for the gambling fiasco and of helping the Knicks, who were the other top team in the East at the time, win a championship.
 

McBride11

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Maybe it's like believing the moon landing was fake but Stern suspending Jordan is the one "conspiracy theory" that I believe in 100%. I think he had a double goal of wanting to punish MJ for the gambling fiasco and of helping the Knicks, who were the other top team in the East at the time, win a championship.
It is one of those 'where the is smoke there is fire' and there is plenty of smoke. I do wonder if the glossing it over rather than addressing it in detail will lead to more internet speculation (beyond me).
 

j-man

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Everybody saw the ‘99 lockout coming and knew the season would be shortened. Krause should have had the foresight to see a Jordan led Bulls team would dominate a 50 game schedule and win a 4th title. I get wanting to rebuild, be a year early instead of a year late, but his biggest mistake was not holding that group together for one more season and title #7.
they wouild had lost to SA in the 99 Finals they cant guard C and SA had 2 of the best of all time
 

j-man

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It also is mystifying to me that Jordan has zero cache in getting players to come play for him. He can’t recruit star players, maybe that’s only the geography but it’s still weird. He couldn’t even keep Kemba from bolting to the C’s.
kemba wouild had stayed but jordan did not want the pay the tax
 

j-man

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A fun ‘what if’ that doesn’t get addressed in the documentary is how a Jordan led Bulls team would have done against the 94-95 Rockets teams. Those Bulls team never really faced a team with a low post player like Olajuwon. Chicago would have had to throw double teams of Bill Cartwright and Horace Grant at him all series, leaving all of Houston’s great 3 point shooters open. At the very least, those Rockets team would have taken Jordan to 7 games and maybe beat them straight up in one of those two years, especially the ‘95 team with Drexler.
the rockets beat the bulls in 93-94 and 94-95 jordan had a dinner with rudy t and said as much
 

Rusty Gate

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the rockets beat the bulls in 93-94 and 94-95 jordan had a dinner with rudy t and said as much
MJ must have been referring to the actual '94 and'95 playoff Bulls. There's no way he concedes that the Rockets would have beaten any of the 6 Championship teams.
 

InstaFace

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Good rundown of tonight's episodes over on SI by Jack McCallum.

Given how prickly he was with the press, it's kinda amazing that Hehir has gotten such a steady series of thoughtful, introspective, real-feeling answers out of Michael Jordan on so many different topics.
 

djbayko

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Oof, Tito citing RBI as a measure of success while noting he just broke .200 in AA. C;mon man.

Can't help but wonder if Jordan agreed to this by limiting any talk of the double secret suspension. It got like 2 lines.
If you had told me the suspension theory would have received as much coverage as it did before this series started, I would have been shocked. None of the principles are ever going to say "Okay, you've got us!" So where can they really go with it?

As for RBIs and BA, that's what they paid attention to back then. When I think back to watching Dave Stewart and George Bell killing the Red Sox when I was growing up, I don't remember what their FIP and OPS+ were.
 

McBride11

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If you had told me the suspension theory would have received as much coverage as it did before this series started, I would have been shocked. None of the principles are ever going to say "Okay, you've got us!" So where can they really go with it?

As for RBIs and BA, that's what they paid attention to back then. When I think back to watching Dave Stewart and George Bell killing the Red Sox when I was growing up, I don't remember what their FIP and OPS+ were.
Of course not, but the documentarians could have had others (non MJ) discuss it.

And fair point about 90s baseball stats - but Tito was interviewed within the last year. I wouldnt expect him to spout off MJ OPS in AA - but he would likely know the rbi measurement isnt helpful. My cynical side says the makers wanted to put a positive slant on the lackluster AA time and so asked Tito to mention that.
 

djbayko

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Of course not, but the documentarians could have had others (non MJ) discuss it.

And fair point about 90s baseball stats - but Tito was interviewed within the last year. I wouldnt expect him to spout off MJ OPS in AA - but he would likely know the rbi measurement isnt helpful. My cynical side says the makers wanted to put a positive slant on the lackluster AA time and so asked Tito to mention that.
Oh, I'm sure they would have put any spin possible on his baseball career since it's an MJ-sponsored documentary. At the same time, it was pretty damn impressive for someone who hadn't played baseball at any level in what...15 years? I'm fine with them not dunking on Jordan for not being an elit baseball star.
 
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InstaFace

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Of course not, but the documentarians could have had others (non MJ) discuss it.

And fair point about 90s baseball stats - but Tito was interviewed within the last year. I wouldnt expect him to spout off MJ OPS in AA - but he would likely know the rbi measurement isnt helpful. My cynical side says the makers wanted to put a positive slant on the lackluster AA time and so asked Tito to mention that.
You're over-focusing on the particular thing Tito grasped for to praise Jordan being dropped into AA as a rookie and actually not embarrassing himself, which totally deserved the praise he gave him. Who cares if he hit .200 and the only thing he accumulated much of was RBIs (and games played)? The important thing was his dedication to the craft, the fact that he was able to compete against some legit prospects, showed steady improvement, etc. Reinsdorf of course is going to say he'd have made the majors, hell if he'd stuck in baseball he might've been Tebowed up to it if he wasn't really deserving. But Tito isn't going to blow smoke up someone's ass, even if that someone is Michael Jordan. How many legit non-pitching prospects are wrecking AA by the end of their rookie year? Not very many, and those who are are probably future all-stars. If Tito says he was on a track to the bigs, I believe him.
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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We are blessed that this absolute masterpiece came along at the time we needed most.

That Jordan/Payton reaction scene was perfect.

I know everyone is crazy for the soundtrack but its well deserved. Soul Coughing, but probably not their most well known song, a Run DMC/Pete Rock hip hop head classic and KRS-One.

Reggie and the Pacers...Sunday can't get here soon enough.
 

67YAZ

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they wouild had lost to SA in the 99 Finals they cant guard C and SA had 2 of the best of all time
Yeah, but the Jordan/Pippen combo would have dominated the perimeter. It would have been a fun battle and a great test of both coaches.
 

cornwalls@6

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Good rundown of tonight's episodes over on SI by Jack McCallum.

Given how prickly he was with the press, it's kinda amazing that Hehir has gotten such a steady series of thoughtful, introspective, real-feeling answers out of Michael Jordan on so many different topics.
I've been struck by that too. Mid-50's Jordan doesn't seem to give any fucks about what he says about anyone, and has been incredibly revealing about himself. His interviews have put this over the top into being a classic for me.
 

InstaFace

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Anyone else see a "Curry" jersey flash by in those Hornets clips in episode 7 and do a double take?
I was surprised to see MJ tear up when addressing the idea he wasn't considered a nice guy.
I think it was the way the question was posed - do you think part of the sacrifice you made with your intensity was giving up the ability to be perceived as a nice guy? - and he took it as a question of defending his intensity, making an ends-justify-the-means argument. What probably brought the emotion out was the word "sacrifice", because reflecting on the sacrifices he made is probably a pretty laden thing for him.

Frankly, I expected his reaction to that question to be "I don't care, I've never cared about being perceived as a nice guy." And he kinda went there with the bit about "Those who say that, have probably never won anything in their life".
 

ifmanis5

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Still relishing the Mike and the Mad Dog shows just after the Pippen Sits Game where they absolutely roasted the fuck out of him. Peak sports talk radio era.
 

BaseballJones

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1995-96 Bulls vs. 2016-17 Warriors

Bulls
G - Jordan
G - Harper
F - Pippen
F - Rodman
C - Longley

Warriors
G - Curry
G - Thompson
F - Green
F - Durant
C - Pachulia

Some delicious matchups there...
Jordan vs. Curry
Pippen vs. Klay or Pippen on Durant
Rodman vs. Durant or Rodman and Green banging the hell out of each other
Thompson or Green guarding Jordan

Key subs
Chicago:
Kukoc (supersub: 13 points, 4 rebounds, 3.5 assists)
Kerr (.515 from three)
Wennington (7'0" body)
Salley
Simpkins

Golden State:
Iguodala (would come in to guard Jordan or Pippen)
Barnes (another tough, hard-nosed player)
Livingston (imagine him trying to post up against Jordan or Pippen..what a matchup that would be)
McCaw
Clark
West

I think the Warriors are deeper. But I love the Jordan-Pippen-Rodman vs. Curry-Klay-Durant trio. I like the Bulls in terms of coaching. And Jordan, as we all know, is a stone cold assassin, which would matter in a series with so many alphas on the court. Jordan is just the most alpha of alphas. And he'd show it.

Durant would be a handful for anyone on Chicago, but Pippen has enough length and athleticism (and his wiry frame isn't a negative against equally wiry Durant) to probably bother KD as much as anyone can. Or Rodman, who is an all-time great defender in his own right, could bully KD.

Imagine Rodman and Green battling each other. Their fight, their tempers...holy crap that would be incredible theater.

Then you've got Curry and Kerr knocking down a million threes.

And though the Bulls didn't favor the three-point shot, as a team they did shoot 40.3% from three that year. This Warriors team? 38.3%. I think the line was closer in for the Bulls but still...the outside shooting in this matchup is actually close.

Would be a hell of a matchup.
 

bosockboy

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Still would have liked to see if the Bulls could’ve dealt with the ‘86 Celtics. Bird’s peak and the peak of the greatest frontline ever with Walton as the cherry on top.
 

coremiller

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1995-96 Bulls vs. 2016-17 Warriors

Bulls
G - Jordan
G - Harper
F - Pippen
F - Rodman
C - Longley

Warriors
G - Curry
G - Thompson
F - Green
F - Durant
C - Pachulia

Some delicious matchups there...
Jordan vs. Curry
Pippen vs. Klay or Pippen on Durant
Rodman vs. Durant or Rodman and Green banging the hell out of each other
Thompson or Green guarding Jordan

Key subs
Chicago:
Kukoc (supersub: 13 points, 4 rebounds, 3.5 assists)
Kerr (.515 from three)
Wennington (7'0" body)
Salley
Simpkins

Golden State:
Iguodala (would come in to guard Jordan or Pippen)
Barnes (another tough, hard-nosed player)
Livingston (imagine him trying to post up against Jordan or Pippen..what a matchup that would be)
McCaw
Clark
West

I think the Warriors are deeper. But I love the Jordan-Pippen-Rodman vs. Curry-Klay-Durant trio. I like the Bulls in terms of coaching. And Jordan, as we all know, is a stone cold assassin, which would matter in a series with so many alphas on the court. Jordan is just the most alpha of alphas. And he'd show it.

Durant would be a handful for anyone on Chicago, but Pippen has enough length and athleticism (and his wiry frame isn't a negative against equally wiry Durant) to probably bother KD as much as anyone can. Or Rodman, who is an all-time great defender in his own right, could bully KD.

Imagine Rodman and Green battling each other. Their fight, their tempers...holy crap that would be incredible theater.

Then you've got Curry and Kerr knocking down a million threes.

And though the Bulls didn't favor the three-point shot, as a team they did shoot 40.3% from three that year. This Warriors team? 38.3%. I think the line was closer in for the Bulls but still...the outside shooting in this matchup is actually close.

Would be a hell of a matchup.
The Bulls' 3P% was inflated by the shorter three-point line. They can't be directly compared.

This matchup depends so much on which set of rules they play under. With modern illegal defense rules the Warriors would destroy Chicago. The Bulls' roster wasn't constructed for modern rules and so they don't have nearly enough shooting to create spacing on offense. The Warriors would completely ignore Harper, Rodman, Longley, etc. on offense and constantly triple-team Jordan. The Bulls would need to play a Jordan/Pippen/Kukoc//Kerr/Rodman lineup to have enough shooting to create spacing and hope Rodman snags enough offensive rebounds to justify his otherwise complete lack of offensive game.

At the other end, none of the Bulls' bigs other than Rodman would be able to stay on the floor. Longley and Wennington would hardly play because Curry would destroy them in PNRs and they couldn't switch Thompson and Curry's offball actions.. And while they'd need Kerr out there for offensive spacing, Kerr would get roasted defensively, he wasn't nearly athletic enough to keep up against the Warriors. And they'd have zero depth, playing basically only six guys. The one Warriors weakness against older-era teams might be an elite low-post scorer (Hakeem might have eaten them up), but the Bulls didn't have that.

Jordan was good enough that he'd still get his points, but the Warriors would be able to throw enough long defenders at him to keep him away from the rim and knock his elite midrange efficiency down a notch. He wouldn't be able to make enough 16 footers to keep with the three-point barrage on the other end. The Bulls would have to play super-slow to compensate for their lack of depth, but the Warriors were faster and longer and would run them off the floor. It wouldn't be close.

Under the old rules, it would be different because Jordan couldn't be stopped. The Bulls' bigs would still be unplayable on defense but Harper would play a lot more and he was a much better defender than Kerr. A Jordan-Pippen-Rodman-Kukoc-Harper lineup has a lot of smart, long, switchable defenders. The Bulls were heady and if anyone could make all the right reads and switches on the Warriors' array of backcuts and offball actions, it would be them. The depth would still be a problem but with their stronger defensive lineup and more efficient offense they'd have a real better chance. I still think the Warriors win because they have so many more ways on offense to hurt the Bulls, but it would be close.
 

Kliq

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I think the Warriors would be the Bulls relatively easily. Like in 5 games or something; the difference in three point volume is just so staggering. The Bulls, with Jordan/Pippen/Rodman/Harper are probably better equipped the most other pre-2000 teams when it comes to athletically and physically trying to defend Curry/Klay/KD, but the gap in three point shooting is enormous, one team shot 16.5 attempts per game, and the other team attempted 31 threes per game.

Another key aspect that was mentioned in a Simmons/Russillo podcast was that offenses back then didn't exploit mismatches the way they do today with trying to get favorable switches on offense. The Bulls would like to get Curry switched onto Jordan, but would the offense be sophisticated enough to do that, or would they just have Jordan go iso against Klay or Durant? That to me is a huge advantage for the Warriors.

If the Warriors were to go back in a time machine and had some sort of cap where they could only attempt 20 threes a game, I think the Bulls would be favored, but as things currently stand, I'd think the advancement in efficiencies on offense would be a huge deciding factor between two great teams from different eras.
 

BaseballJones

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I tend to agree with you guys about the Warriors, but I think the Bulls are being undersold here a little. If they played by modern rules, there's not a player on the Warriors who stays with Jordan. He scored 33 points a game in an era where opponents could clutch, grab, hold, and bump him on and off the ball with impunity. You start calling those as fouls, and Jordan's scoring 20 a night from the foul line. Since GS wouldn't allow that, they'd have to give him room to move, and if they let him do that, forget it.

I agree that the Bulls' centers wouldn't play much, but they would when GS played their centers. Yes they'd struggle in P&R. But a Harper-Jordan-Pippen-Kukoc-Rodman lineup is really frigging good. Harper was a very capable scorer, and Curry would get matched up on him. Harper would be able to post Curry up or shoot right over him at 6'6".

I think the three point shooting is a little overblown too. The goal is to score points. It doesn't matter if they come via three pointers or dunks or free throws. This Bulls team was a very capable offensive team, able to lead the league in scoring despite the hand-grabbing, maul-fest defense that was allowed to be played. I don't think the Warriors would want to leave guys like Kerr alone from three. Yes he shot 51.5% with a closer line, but obviously the guy was a legit shooter. Career 45.4% three point shooter. Of course he struggles at the defensive end, so there's give and take.

Anyway, fun banter.
 

JCizzle

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I think the Warriors would be the Bulls relatively easily. Like in 5 games or something; the difference in three point volume is just so staggering. The Bulls, with Jordan/Pippen/Rodman/Harper are probably better equipped the most other pre-2000 teams when it comes to athletically and physically trying to defend Curry/Klay/KD, but the gap in three point shooting is enormous, one team shot 16.5 attempts per game, and the other team attempted 31 threes per game.

Another key aspect that was mentioned in a Simmons/Russillo podcast was that offenses back then didn't exploit mismatches the way they do today with trying to get favorable switches on offense. The Bulls would like to get Curry switched onto Jordan, but would the offense be sophisticated enough to do that, or would they just have Jordan go iso against Klay or Durant? That to me is a huge advantage for the Warriors.

If the Warriors were to go back in a time machine and had some sort of cap where they could only attempt 20 threes a game, I think the Bulls would be favored, but as things currently stand, I'd think the advancement in efficiencies on offense would be a huge deciding factor between two great teams from different eras.
That same podcast made a good point - can you imagine what MJ and Pippen would have thought when Steph and Klay were taking their pregame shooting drills? Aliens from Space Jam showing up would have made more sense. All silly talk, but it's amusing how much the game has changed in such a relatively short time.
 

Kliq

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That same podcast made a good point - can you imagine what MJ and Pippen would have thought when Steph and Klay were taking their pregame shooting drills? Aliens from Space Jam showing up would have made more sense. All silly talk, but it's amusing how much the game has changed in such a relatively short time.
Yeah I think this is a case were the differences between the modern team vs the classic team is really in playing style and not in athleticism, which is typically the reason modern teams are favored over older teams.

The Warriors are an interesting situation because their elite skill of shooting such a high volume and making a great percentage of threes is a distinct advantage they are going to have over every other great team from the past. At the same time, I think they would be more susceptible than most other all-time great teams to playing teams from other eras, provided their playing style would morph into the style of that era, because of the reliance on three point shot. Curry without the three point line or with a limit in how often he would shot threes is kind of a hard cap on his overall value, and Durant is the only "holy shit, look how big and athletic this guy is" in the Warrior's rotation.
 

Marciano490

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It’s awesome Jordan gets to make a ten part documentary just shitting on rivals from 30+ years ago - Payton, Isaiah.