Yes, I’m gloating.
Yes indeed I’m gloating. You can bet your sweet derriere I’m gloating.
On Wednesday night, March 27, 2013, the Chicago Bulls officially ended the Miami Heat’s winning streak at 27 games.
Heat fans hoping that their guys would break the 41-year-old Los Angeles Lakers’ record of winning 33 straight games have been brought back to reality.
And we Lakers fans that hope the record set by the 1971-1972 squad will never be broken feel somewhat vindicated.
For me, the feelings of vindication go far beyond my being a Lakers fan. In addition to seeing the Heat lose to the Bulls, it was nice seeing LeBron James eat a little crow.
Let me assure all of you LeBron fans out there that I’m no hater. I’ll concede your guy has game, and plenty of it. He’ll never replace the likes of Magic Johnson, Larry Bird or Michael Jordan in my heart, but I can see where LeBron might replace them in yours.
Yes, the Heat did win the 2011-2012 National Basketball Association title, and LeBron was the main reason.
The U.S. Men’s Olympic team won gold at last summer’s London games. Without LeBron, they’d have been lucky to win a bronze.
So yeah, LeBron’s got game. And he just might be every bit as good as he thinks he is.
But his team isn’t nearly as good as LeBron thinks it is. In LeBron’s world, the 2012-2013 Heat’s winning streak was far more impressive than the Lakers’ 1971-1972 winning streak, even though the Heat’s streak fell six games shy of tying the record.
What was LeBron’s reasoning? That the NBA of 1971-1972 wasn’t as talented as the NBA of 2012-2013.
“Back then, the leagues were separate,” LeBron said in an interview before the Heat lost to the Bulls. “It wasn’t a full league at the time. The (American Basketball Association) and the NBA leagues spread apart. So some of the greatest players weren’t even in the NBA at the time.”
LeBron must have realized that he seriously ticked off some old-school NBA fans, because he felt compelled to add a quick, “But that takes nothing away from what (the Lakers) were able to accomplish.”
Actually, it took quite a bit away, LeBron’s parsing notwithstanding. What LeBron was saying is that the 1971-1972 Los Angeles Lakers won 33 straight games because the NBA of that era wasn’t that good.
With one statement, LeBron proved to me that, his skills aside, that the guy is nothing but a whippersnapper. He’s the snappiest whippersnapper that ever snapped a whip.
While I’m impressed that LeBron actually knows something about the history of the NBA and ABA, he could use a refresher course of what kind of players were in the NBA during the 1971-1972 season.
Let’s start with the squad that LeBron dissed: the 1971-1972 Lakers. At one guard was Gail Goodrich, a Hall of Famer who was a five-time NBA all star.
The other guard was a guy I’m sure LeBron has heard of. His name is Jerry West, another Hall of Famer and a 14-time all star who was an NBA finals MVP and an all-star game MVP.
The center? That was the late, great Wilton Norman Chamberlain. Remember him, LeBron? He’s the guy that scored 100 points in a game, a record that has not and probably will not be broken.
Wilt also holds the record for rebounds in a game (55) and, for his career, averaged 23 rebounds and 30 points per game. And for those LeBron fans (and Michael Jordan fans) that think their guy is the greatest player in pro basketball history, allow me to unburden you of that delusion.
It was Wilt. Or, as all-everything guard Oscar Robertson put it much better when asked if Wilt was the greatest ever, “the books don’t lie.”
How were the 2012-2013 Heat able to win their 27 straight games? Part of the reason is that they have yet to face a team with the likes of that Goodrich-West-Chamberlain combination.
This year’s Heat squad hasn’t faced a team with a center like Kareem Abdul Jabbar either. But the 1971-1972 Lakers did. Those Lakers also played teams with guys like Walt “Clyde” Frazier, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, Oscar Robertson, Wes Unseld, Willis Reed and John Havlicek.
LeBron was dead wrong in his assessment of NBA talent circa 1972. But I’ll give the brother props for one thing.
He did provide me with my “Negro, please” moment for the month of March.