A Bunch Of Math Attempting To Convince Me That The Current Warriors Are Better Than The 90’s Bulls

The Complete History Of The NBA

How do you rate an NBA team across decades of play? One method is Elo, a simple measure of strength based on game-by-game results. We calculated Elo ratings for every NBA (and ABA) franchise after every game in history — over 60,000 ratings in total. Read more: How this works | 2016-17 rankings and picks


Golden State (1971-), San Francisco (1962-71), Philadelphia (1946-62)
Four championships

Elo ratings have a simple formula; the only inputs are the final score of each game, and where and when it was played. Teams always gain Elo points for winning. But they get more credit for upset victories and for winning by larger margins. Elo ratings are zero-sum, however. When the Houston Rockets gained 49 Elo points by winning the final three games of their Western Conference semifinal during this year’s playoffs, that meant the Los Angeles Clippers lost 49 Elo points.

A rating of 1500 is approximately average, although the league average can be slightly higher or lower depending on how recently the league has expanded. (Expansion teams begin with a 1300 rating.) Select a team above, and zoom in to explore its history.

1990s Bulls: Formerly The Best There Ever Was

bulls5It’s no surprise that the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls — with 72 regular-season wins — had the best Elo rating ever until they were surpassed by the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the 2017 NBA Finals. Chicago picked up its fourth NBA championship at the end of that season, but the Bulls hit their peak Elo (1853) a few games earlier when they stomped the SuperSonics 108-86 in Seattle to take a 3-0 lead in the finals and improve their playoff record to 14-1. Chicago went into a “slump” for the next two games — losing both by double digits — before clinching the title in Game 6.

The Lakers’ 33 Games To Greatness

lakersGoing into the 1971-72 season, the Los Angeles Lakers had a middling 1496 Elo rating, in part because their competition was watered down by the NBA’s rapid expansion (the league had gone from nine to 17 franchises in the span of several years). And anchored by aging veterans Elgin Baylor (37 years old), Wilt Chamberlain (35) and Jerry West (33), the team was supposed to be approaching the end of the era, a perception strengthened by Baylor’s retirement just nine games into the season.

Then: the streak. From Nov. 5 through Jan. 7, the Lakers reeled off 33 consecutive wins, raising their Elo rating over 200 points, from 1544 to 1753. That was the team’s peak rating for the season, although the Lakers did go on to win the 1972 title, the franchise’s sixth and its first since 1954.

The ’60s Celtics Don’t Get Any Respect

celticsThe Boston Celtics won 11 of 13 NBA titles from 1957 through 1969, a dominance unparalleled in modern sports. Elo doesn’t care about rings, though, and knocks the Celtics for their weak opponents and occasionally lackluster regular seasons (at least relative to their playoff achievements). Still, the Celtics’ Elo rating hung around 1700 (really good) for much of the era, and the team maintained an above-average Elo rating for over 13 years. Only the 1980s-era Lakers and the current San Antonio Spurs, a team with which those Celtics have a lot in common, put together similar streaks.

The Knicks Peaked A Long Time Ago

best_knicksThe 1969-70 season was a great one for New York basketball. Led by Willis Reed, Walt Frazier and Dave DeBusschere, the Knicks were 23-1 through Nov. 28 and hit an Elo rating of 1712 — the highest in franchise history. Things were a little less smooth after that: New York went 37-21 to close out the regular season and was taken to seven games twice in the playoffs. By the time the Knicks won the franchise’s first title in May, their rating had fallen to 1591.

It’s been awhile since Nov. 28, 1969. No other active team has an Elo peak so long ago; the next closest are the Bucks (March 8, 1971) and Nets (Feb. 23, 1975, when they were still in the ABA). Every moment of Knicks daylight since — from Linsanity to Larry Johnson’s 4-point play — has not quite lived up to their former glory.

The NBA Is A Shit-Show Right Now

As we approach the NBA All-Star break (Feb 17-19), it seems that just about everybody in the Eastern conference is ready to take a weekend off of work.  Tensions have been rising in Chicago, New York and even in Cleveland where the King is unhappy upon his thrown, peering down amongst his constituents with a scowl that would make bitch-face uneasy.


The NBA’s drama all started to hit the fan when earlier this week, Chicago’s Dwayne Wade explained how his teammates completely sucked, while talking in a post-game interview that threw a wrench into the Bull’s bicycle spokes:

“I’m 35 years old, man,’’ Wade said. “I have three championships. It shouldn’t hurt me more than it hurts (teammates). They have to want it.”

–Dwayne Wade

Jimmy Butler chimed in:

“I believe in the guys in this locker room, yeah, but I also believe that we probably have to be coached a lot harder at times,” Jimmy Butler said after scoring just 12 points on 4-for-11 shooting one night after he played 56 minutes against the Pistons. “I know Fred is a laidback guy and I respect him for that, but when guys aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do, you gotta get on guys, myself included. You gotta do what you’re supposed to do when you’re out there playing basketball.

“We weren’t doing what were supposed to be doing, what we wrote on that board before the game. Nobody spoke up. I did, but probably not enough times. I think he has to hold everybody accountable, from the No. 1 player, all the way down. Everyone has to do their job.”

And apparently Rajon Rondo chimed in via instagram as well:

“My vets would never go to the media. They would come to the team. My vets didn’t pick and choose when they wanted to bring it. They brought it every time they stepped in the gym whether it was practice or a game. They didn’t take days off. My vets didn’t care about their numbers. My vets played for the team. When we lost, they wouldn’t blame us. They took responsibility and got in the gym. They showed the young guys what it meant to work. Even in Boston when we had the best record in the league, if we lost a game, you could hear a pin drop on the bus. They showed us the seriousness of the game. My vets didn’t have an influence on the coaching staff. They couldn’t change the plan because it didn’t work for them. I played under one of the greatest coaches, and he held everyone accountable. It takes 1-15 to win. When you isolate everyone, you can’t win consistently. I may be a lot of things, but I’m not a bad teammate. My goal is to pass what I learned along. The young guys work. They show up. They don’t deserve blame. If anything is questionable, it’s the leadership.”

Chicago sounds like a dumpster fire right now, they’re 23-24 overall and spiraling out of control, Fred Hoiberg is on the hot seat.

****UPDATE: Jimmy Butler and Dwayne Wade will start the game tonight on the bench as a punishment.

The next big, weird, awkward happening is in the Big, Weird, Awkward Apple.  Carmelo Anthony is on the trading block, the latest rumor is a move to the LA Clippers for some combination of Jamaal Crawford (hasn’t he played for the Knicks like 4 times already?), J.J. Redick, and/or Austin Rivers.  My guess is that there will have to be a draft pick fixed into this move on both sides as well.  A Big-4 in LA could be forming with the likes of Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin and Carmelo Anthony, a solid core that will fight for that 2nd seed in the Western conference for the foreseeable future.

In addition to the Melo-trade talks, Phil Jackson seems to have lost control of this franchise (assuming he ever had control).  Whatever the hell offense they were trying to put together has now been dismantled by ZERO ball movement (Melo), ZERO outside shooting, ZERO defense, while Head Coach/scapegoat Jeff Hornacek gives ZERO fucks anymore:

“I don’t think our guys aren’t trying. Maybe we’re just not capable of it. I don’t know,” Hornacek said. “That’s what we’re going to have to figure out. Maybe you have to play some of these other guys. We might have to mix the lineup up somehow.”

–Jeff Hornacek

If “playing some of these other guys” includes giving Johkim Noah more floor-tic, Phil should just fire Hornacek now and put him out of his misery.

Derrick Rose pulled a disappearing act a few weeks ago, it’s still relatively unexplained as to what really happened with that.  In addition, D-Rose is shooting way too much.  In the last 5 games – all losses – Rose has taken 21.2 shots a game.  In games where Rose plays and the Knicks win, he averages 13.6 FGA.  In losses he averages 17.7 FGA.

And finally, this week Lebron James aired his grievances in true Costanzian form by taking to the media to complain about his front office NOT going hard after Melo, or any other available superstar.  Despite spending more than any other NBA franchise this season, Lebron isn’t content.  The Cavs (30-14) are currently committed to $127.5 million in salaries and $27 million in luxury taxes for this season.  They’ve spent more than any other NBA team over the three-years since Lebron came back.  The most recent acquisition was sharp-shooter Kyle Korver, who has yet to fully mesh with the Cavs’ offensive flow.

While Lebron spoke about the younger, less experienced players like Kay Felder, DeAndre Liggins and Jordan McRae on the Cavs roster:

“No disrespect to DeAndre and to Kay: You think we can rely on them to help us win a playoff game right now?” James said. “And it’s no disrespect to them. But it’s like, it’s not fair to them.”

–Lebron James

I can understand that Lebron wants to remain competitive, you can see he’s smart enough to realize that they’re chasing the Warriors after the Durant addition.  But going media first is always the wrong way to handle things.  Why does this keep happening?  The NBA is plagued by players who are reporting to the media first before handling issues internally, then they complain about the media being too on top of them.  The past two weeks seem particularly gossipy and complainy, maybe the NBA needs a quick break.  All-Star weekend can’t get here soon enough.


20 Minutes of NOT Wasted Time

I’ve gone…..and done it again.  I fell down the rabbit hole of vintage 80s and 90s NBA highlights.

For anyone who is under 30, just shutup and watch these videos.  You need the education.

Let’s start it off with the best NBA Dunk Contests of All-Time:

A few notes: 1) Yes, Dr. J hit his head on the backboard in that first dunk.  2) The flat-top, gold-chain wearing, windmill machine from the Knicks is Kenny “Sky” Walker….and he was old school before old school was old school. 3) Cedric Ceballos could see through the blind-fold. 4) Brent Barry won a dunk contest without ever removing his warm-up jacket. 5) Stevie “Franchise” Francis sighting!  6) Jason Richardson’s bounce was DIRRRRRTTTTY. 7) Tracy McGrady would’ve won a dunk contest if his cousin, Vince Carter, wasn’t an alien from Planet Bouncey-Bounce. 8) Nate Robinson is so little!  9) Javale McGee was IN A DUNK CONTEST…and dunked on 2 hoops?!?!? 10) Vince Carter was ridiculous, and single-handedly made the wackest AND-1 shoes cool for like 5 minutes.

Shaq in high school is worth watching:

Vince Carter in high school is ALSO worth watching:

Oh, Lebron James was in a dunk contest in 2003:

And speaking of dunks, here’s MJ:

And just for fun, here’s some more MJ:

Remember “The Answer”?  Allen Iverson was UNGUARDABLE:

How about some Lakers love you say?  OK, Magic Johnson and the showtime Lakers:

How about a little more Shaq:

Julius Erving…AKA: the first Michael Jordan:

and last but least, The “Human Highlight Reel”, Dominique Wilkins:

Enjoy, more to come next time I’m feeling nostalgic……..

Scottie Pippen and Shaq keep proving they’re retired

Since it’s a slow time during the sports calender, twitter has become the most interesting outlet for wasting a good amount of time during the work day.

Matt Barnes wants to fight Serge Ibaka:

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 4.00.40 PM

Stephen A. Smith can’t keep his mouth shut:

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 4.02.41 PM

And Scottie Pippen and Shaq are arguing, and arguing, and arguing:

Shaq started the fight by saying he’d take the LA Lakers all-time starting five over the Chicago Bulls all-time starting five any day of the week.  In fact, he said the Lakers would beat the Bulls by 50.

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 4.05.05 PM

Simple math:  5 HOFers (LA) beats 3 HOFers (Bulls).

Even though Shaq is obviously correct (not sure about the 5o point win though), Scottie felt the need to stand up for his squad:

Screen Shot 2015-07-21 at 4.07.57 PM

Sorry @shaq but I don’t get caught up in hypotheticals. All I know is we won 6 titles, twice the amount you claimed while in LA…

Shaq bounced back:

Sorry @scottiepippen I don't believe in hypotheticals either, but I seen most of those final you did ok , but this guy did most the work . #youwereok steve kerr and Ron harper deserve more credit than you , remember I WAS BATMAN YOU WAS ROBIN , I was PUFFY YOU WAS MASE...

Sorry @scottiepippen I don’t believe in hypotheticals either, but I seen most of those final you did ok , but this guy did most the work .
#youwereok steve kerr and Ron harper deserve more credit than you , remember I WAS BATMAN YOU WAS ROBIN , I was PUFFY YOU WAS MASE…

***sidenote: nice jean-shorts (jorts) Scottie***

Shaq KEPT on going:



Go oust and get them sidekick edition Scottie pippen a exclusively on he's a bum.com

Go oust and get them sidekick edition Scottie pippen a exclusively on he’s a bum.com



Scottie snapped back at Shaq like a rubber-band bouncey ball:

Speaking of being a sidekick... if I recall correctly you know a thing or two about that as well. @shaq

Speaking of being a sidekick… if I recall correctly you know a thing or two about that as well. @shaq

Shaq is RELENTLESS (and bored):

@scottiepippen yes THE GREAT MICHAEL JORDAN GOT YOU SIX RINGS , but you will always be remembered as MR 2nd FIDDLE. SECOND BEHIND HIM AND SECOND BEHIND ME. GAME AINT OVER TIL I SAY SO. stay in yo place. 6 time nba CHUMPION

@scottiepippen yes THE GREAT MICHAEL JORDAN GOT YOU SIX RINGS , but you will always be remembered as MR 2nd FIDDLE. SECOND BEHIND HIM AND SECOND BEHIND ME. GAME AINT OVER TIL I SAY SO. stay in yo place. 6 time nba CHUMPION

Then Scottie dropped the mic (at least for today):

Game over, @shaq. All that's ever mattered to me is winning and we did plenty of that in Chicago...

Game over, @shaq. All that’s ever mattered to me is winning and we did plenty of that in Chicago…

I love when grown-up, former athletes take to twitter and prove how good the retired life is.

Is Lebron James’ Legacy Tainted?

When compared to the greats in the game, splitting hairs between championship appearances, championship wins, lifetime stats, personal achievements and hairline receding all come into play.

Lebron is already on the short list for best of all-time, and he may be just now reaching his peak as a player.  But if he keeps losing championships, does that hurt his legacy?

Let’s say Lebron goes to 10 NBA championships in his career (very possible), if he only comes away with 3-4 wins, does that hurt him in the conversation of best ever?


Current NBA Players List

MJ went 6 for 6 in the NBA Championship department.  He also went 6 for 6 in NBA Finals MVP awards in the process, while never losing a game 6 or a game 7 in the Finals.  Does this change how we think of Lebron?

Monday Afternoon Overreaction

A timeline in my (admittedly hoops-junky) world over the last 4 days of NBA Playoffs:


Chicago Bulls WIN:  Will the REAL Derrick Rose please stand up!?!?  Seeing Derrick Rose play the way we ALL HOPED he would play after coming back from 10 years of injuries (last time he was healthy in a playoff game, Game of Thrones was beginning it’s third season).  He’s a bulldog on the court with the instincts of a Summa Cum Laude Harvard grad-Meerkat.

Rose hit a game-winner at the buzzer to beat the Cleveland Lebrons 99-96 on Friday night, after coming off a ball-screen on a seemingly broken play.  Rose found the space to rise up and get the shot off over Tristan Thompson (why didn’t JR Smith and Thompson double him hard?), which made me uncontrollably utter out-loud like a basketball Rain ManHOLY SHIT, D-Rose is back.

***sidenote: Seriously, what the hell happened to the Cavs?  Kevin Love goes down, Kyrie Irving isn’t 100% healthy, now it’s the Cavs of  2008-2010 all over again??  If Lebron doesn’t go 30-10-10, they got no shot at winning.  JR Smith, KING of the terrible shot, is a BIG part of their offense right now…how’d that work out for EVERY other team he’s played for?  Sorry Knicks fans, that was a low-blow.  AND WHY WASN’T LEBRON guarding D-Rose on that final play!?!?

Los Angeles Clippers WIN BIG:  Hey Houston, how’d that hack-a-Jordan strategy work out for ya in that 124-99 ASSSSSS-WHOOOOOOOOPIN??  This game was the beginning of the downfall of the Houston Rockets, AKA the era of Dwight Howard.  JJ Redick shot 11-14 from the floor and 5-6 from threes on his way to 31 points in the game, HOW DO YOU LET JJ REDICK drop 31 on your face in the playoffs??  And as if that wasn’t enough, Austin Rivers put in 25 points off the bench to add a Triumph The Insult Comic Dog to the injury that was Houston’s defense.  Was I too hasty on my “Daddy’s boy-lucky to be in the league” analysis of Austin Rivers???  Or is Houston THAT bad?


The Memphis Grizzlies are apparently for real again:  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Mike Conley is the most underrated point guard in the NBA.  He sat out game 1 because of his broken face.

17715276-mmmain Mike-Conley-050615

The Grizz lost game 1 at Golden State 101-86, BUT when Conley came back in game 2, Memphis stole a road-win 97-90, then on Saturday they took a 2-1 series lead back at home in Memphis after a 99-89 victory that sent Warriors fans into a spiral of despair wondering if the baby-faced assassin had met his match.  Right now, Tony Allen OWNS Klay Thompson and Steph Curry.  The Warriors are in trouble.

The Washington Wizards and Ole-Man-River with a big win:

In a playoff series that I honestly couldn’t care less about, Paul Pierce made it interesting for at least one night.  John Wall out with a broken hand makes this a who cares cause you’re gonna loose in the next round anyway series. 

***sidenote:  I have inside information that Colin Cowherd (racist) broke John Wall’s hand using telepathy and out-of-touch-white-guy voodoo, so he could have something to pontificate about on his radio show.  Thus proving his hypothesis that dancing the “Dougie” will eventually lead to hand injuries and the lack of a jump-shot.


Setting:  Mother’s Day, fancy-nice-collared shirt restaurant for brunch/lunch.

What I’m doing:  Sitting the wrong way at the table, eyes glued to the TV over at the bar ignoring any mother who isn’t dribbling a basketball or offering me an alcoholic brunch drink.

  • Just under 3 minutes left, the score was 80-74 Cavs.  Plenty of time for JR Smith to do something stupid.  Also, I’m on my 4th mimosa and the eggs benedict is starting to look like a bad choice.
  • 30 seconds left, Jimmy Butler shakes loose and hits a three bringing the Bulls within 2 points, 84-82.  I’m the only one in the bar watching the game, an omelet cart rolls past me, it smells terrific.
  • Lebron is doubled by Dunleavy and Derrick Rose, Lebron elbows (?) Dunleavy in the face sending him to the floor for the offensive foul (I haven’t seen acting like that since Dunleavy’s dad ACTED like a head coach).  There’s that damn omelet cart again.
  • 9 seconds left, Derrick Rose drives past Shumpert and hits a layup (nice defense kid-n-play), again why isn’t Lebron guarding Rose in these tight game situations?  Tie ball game!!  I’m yelling at the TV sitting next to a 75 year old grandmother eating chocolate cake.  Screw it, gimme a Denver omelet, no onions, no peppers.  YES, I know that’s just a ham omelet.
  • 4 seconds left, Lebron drives the lane and is HACKED and PUSHED by Joakim Noah and Jimmy Butler, NO CALL!?!?  Cavs ball, under the hoop.  I can’t believe they didn’t call that foul AND OF COURSE I’d like a Bellini!!!!
  • Refs check the clock, set it at 1.5 seconds.  in-bounds play consisting of Lebron saying gimme the damn ball…Lebron fade-away GOOD!!!!  HE HIT IT, HE HIT IT!  HOLY SHIT!  Everyone in the restaurant looks at me as if I just threw up green chile on the grandma next to me.  As I’m yelling (respectfully under my breath), I knock an orange juice off the table, but nothing to fear…it wasn’t a mimosa, just a regular orange juice.  The grandson on the other side of me cries.


Man, the Rockets are terrible.  They’ve given up completely:

The hack-a-Jordan doesn’t work, the only team that could even come close to making it work was the Spurs because they have 3 HOFers and a HOF coach.  The Rockets have NONE of that, unless you count their coach when he was a player.  I love how there’s all this chatter about how Dwight Howard has been working with Hakeem Olajuwon on his post game, at what point will we see anything that resembles an Olajuwon move?

It’s very disappointing to see James Harden give up like this.  Dwight Howard seems to suck the life-blood out of every team he’s a part of like a 7-foot vampire with a fohawk.  I hate to say things like “that guy will NEVER win a championship” about anyone, but seriously…Dwight Howard will NEVER win a championship.

Mid-Playoff Predictions:

Chicago Bulls VS. Golden State Warriors in the NBA Championship

Chicago Bulls win in 6 games.