For some reason, everybody feels the need to compare the 2015-16 record-breaking Golden State Warriors to great teams from the past. Now, a new team has joined the debate, courtesy of Shaquille O'Neal.
Throughout the season as the Warriors pursued the single-season win record of 72, the question that has now been mocked on social media was constantly asked: could they beat the '96 Bulls?
After winning 73 games, the conversation persisted as the Dubs fought through a tough Western Conference. When they fell behind 3-1 to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the doubters were out in full force.
Now, leading the Cleveland Cavaliers two games to none in the NBA Finals, those same kinds of comparisons to historically great teams have popped up again.
After their dominating Game 2 victory, Klay Thompson claimed that this Warriors team is better than the Showtime Lakers of the 1980s. Klay's father, Mychal, who was a member of some of those Laker teams, agreed. Magic Johnson quickly responded, stating that the Showtime teams would have toppled the current Warriors.
Yesterday, Shaq chimed in on the conversation with the Associated Press' Brian Mahoney. According to O'Neal, the 2000-01 Los Angeles Lakers would beat these Warriors, regardless of the rules in place.
The Warriors' 73 victories broke the Bulls' 1996 record, but O'Neal said his 2001 Lakers would have beaten them. That team set an NBA record by going 15-1 in the postseason for the second of three straight championships under Jackson, back when O'Neal could be an even bigger physical force before rules changes loosened the game for free-flowing offenses like Golden State's to thrive.
“If you're using those rules, we'd win. Now we use these rules these days, we'd still win, because you wouldn't be allowed to touch me, you wouldn't be allowed to touch Kobe,” O'Neal said. “So yeah, that's how I always look at it.”
Nothing wrong with confidence, big fella.
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