It has been some 20 years since that season when the Chicago Bulls managed to set a record 72 victories in the regular season – a record that finally fell this year with the Golden State Warriors (that’s the Oakland, Calif.-area) managing to win 73 games.
Is it possible that these Warriors are better than the high-and-mighty Bulls teams that we had back in the 1990s – the one time that Chicago sports got to experience a taste of the kind of athletic glamour that New York Yankees fans expect routinely?
It certainly isn’t going to be remembered as big as those teams led by the duo of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, and also had characters like Dennis Rodman (what color would he wear his hair on any given night?) playing regularly.
The Warriors led by Stephen Curry (I have to confess, when I hear the name “Curry” it brings to my mind Eddy, the high school sensation from Thornwood High in South Holland who didn’t quite become the next Bulls superstar) may be able to claim to have won one more game than did those 1995-96 Bulls.
But those Bulls went on to be National Basketball Association champions for that season – and five others within that 1990s decade.
IN THE END, the Warriors fell Sunday night to the Cleveland Cavaliers. History will record these 73-win Warriors as merely a second-best team and NOT champions like the Cavaliers – led by LeBron James, the other high school sensation who turned out to be the elite player that sports fans thought Eddy Curry would be for the Bulls.
I don’t doubt that Golden State fans feel something special about this season that is now finished. Although I doubt anyone else will get all worked up over it.
For all I know, they will be quickly forgotten while basketball fans will debate for decades to come whether those 1990s Bulls were THE elite team of professional basketball.
That, and they’ll remember how Jordan himself was a Saturday Night Live guest (remember the sight of him in a grass skirt doing the hula dance with the Superfans cheering on his merits (Jordan was almost as sensational as Mike Ditka himself, to listen to those old comedy sketches).
ALL OF THIS has come to a wrap-up, and I have to admit to feeling glad – in part because I think the professional basketball season stretches on far too long. It’s even more ridiculous playing NBA Finals games in late June than it is playing the World Series in the days leading up to Halloween.
We can now relegate the Curry Warriors vs. the Jordan Bulls debates to semi-drunken bar quarrels, and wonder how many times in the future the issue will lead to an outburst sensational enough that the cops will have to come in and break things up.
Because it just wasn’t a quarrel I cared to have all that often, and not just because I’m not much of a basketball fan.
Of course, the Chicagoan in me is going to find it difficult to ever have anyone challenge the significance of the Bulls back in that era.
SIX CHAMPIONSHIPS IN an eight-year time span is historic no matter what the sport.
Although others will go on and on about the historic significance of Cleveland managing to come from as far behind as they were in the final round of the NBA Finals to actually win the whole thing.
Some will cry about Stephen Curry’s dream season falling one game short. While those people who think LeBron James is some snotty, arrogant punk will be upset to see him on yet another championship team.
And those of us with a Chicago rooting interest will wind up crying the loudest – wondering why the Bulls stink so much and when it will be their turn to win yet again.