No. 1: 1996 Chicago Bulls – Nobody’s really going to argue with the consensus top choice, are they? Michael Jordan fresh out of retirement and at the top of his game, joined by fellow future Hall of Famers Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, the Bulls set the NBA record with 72 wins and outscored opponents by an average of 12.2 per game. These Bulls knew they were going to win every time they walked onto the court and usually were right.
No. 2: 1967 Philadelphia 76ers – It was a much smaller NBA back then, a more rugged, tougher league and the toughest thing about it was that you had to go through Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics. These Sixers did it with a lineup of three members of the NBA’s 50 Greatest in Wilt Chamberlain, Hal Greer and Billy Cunningham and a roster that also included Chet Walker, Luke Jackson, Wali Jones and Matt Guokas. They rolled to a 68-13 record, took out the Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals and beat the Warriors with Rick Barry and Nate Thurmond in The Finals.
No. 3: 1986 Boston Celtics – They had five future Hall of Famers – Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson and Bill Walton – who played with an intelligence that matched their intensity and confidence. Walton was able to finally shake off years of foot problems to back up Parish and Walton’s passing skills seemed to take Bird to an even higher level. The Celtics rolled to an NBA record 40-1 home mark during the regular season and by the time they reached The Finals against a young and powerful Houston team with Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson, the outcome was practically a foregone conclusion.
No. 4: 1987 Los Angeles Lakers – With all due respect to the 1972 Lakers and their record 33-game winning streak, they and the NBA never had anything like a 6-foot-9 point guard in Magic Johnson. With Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy, this is was the season the Lakers went 65-17, won 10 of 11 playoff games in the first three rounds and had a relatively easy time beating Bird and the Celtics in The Finals 4-2. Magic’s baby sky hook won Game at Boston Garden to send them on their way and, when it was over, Pat Riley promised the Lakers would win it again the next year. And they did.
No. 5: 1965 Boston Celtics – Including coach Red Auerbach, there were eight Hall of Famers in the locker room – Bill Russell, John Havlicek, Sam Jones, K.C. Jones, Satch Sanders, Tom Heinsohn and a rookie named John Thompson. Sam Jones averaged 25.9 points per game to lead the way. But this was a Celtics team that was all about defense with K.C. Jones at the point and Russell in the middle. Russell averaged 24.1 rebounds per game. They handled the Lakers easily in The Finals, 4-1.