In a word: no. HELL NO, actually. But that’s not stopping ESPN from exploring the possibility! This link on ESPN’s website is to a game tracker that compares the 2013-14 Lakers and Spurs to the 72-win 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, and begins with the following text:
For a team to be considered the greatest of all time, it has to outpace the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls — Michael Jordan’s fourth title team finished 72-10, and many think it was the greatest NBA machine ever assembled.
Two of the most impressive teams of the young season — with a plausible chance of reaching 72 wins — have been the Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs.
Bookmark this page and come back to see just how well the Lakers and Spurs are doing, game by game, compared to MJ’s Bulls.
A Redditor stumbled across the link, and the Internet sleuths went to work, trying to determine how such an inane proposition could occur. Apparently, previous versions of this page exist, dating back five years. The archive is incomplete, but the intro text is the exact same, save for different team names inserted in appropriate places. For example, both 2009 and 2010 featured the Cavaliers and Lakers, which makes sense due to the Lakers (eventually) racking up two consecutive NBA titles, while LeBron James was racking up 60-plus-win regular seasons in Cleveland.
The problem is, everything we see in the archive reflects the two best teams in each conference, which is what makes this year’s version so bizarre. The Lakers, by every estimation, are going to be terrible (oh, sorry, turrble). The Spurs, while being a nice team that recently came within a missed rebound of winning the NBA title, are
probably definitely not challenging the 1996 Bulls’ 72 wins. And, both teams are in the Western Conference, meaning ESPN has little faith in any Eastern Conference teams.
Also, whoever is in charge of updating the tracker is clearly not a math major, as the Spurs’ projected record is 62-21, which, as our trusty NIS calculator informs us, adds up to 83.
To conclude: there’s no rhyme or reason as to why the Lakers and Spurs are the teams listed here, other than that they are the two most successful franchises of the last 15 years, and the computer may have automatically inserted them based on some silly algorithm. Still, one Redditor posited a theory that we’re missing the point entirely. If the tracker is following the pursuit of 72 wins, it must be combined wins between the two teams. Agreed — that sounds more realistic.
Update: The fun’s over. Apparently someone at ESPN reads r/NBA, because the link now redirects to the boring standings page. Oh well.