I got a shout-out from Mark Heisler in today's LA Times.
At this point, only haters and Celtics fans can deny the Lakers' greatness. Around here where we know our hoop, assuming it comes dressed in purple and gold, the first radio talk show host (Steve Mason) has already said the magic word, or number, "70."
This Laker team looks spectacular. At times last night, the Purple and Gold looked like the Harlem Globetrotters and the Clippers bore a striking resemblance to the Washington Generals as the so-called "Hallway Series" turned into a Varsity versus JV slaughter 117-79.
Only 1 team has ever won 70+ regular season games and that team had Michael Jordan. The 1995-96 Bulls won 72 games and went on to win the NBA Championship sweeping a 60-win Orlando team in the Eastern Conference Finals and beating a 64-win Seattle team in the NBA Championship series.
I don't think it's outrageous to suggest that this Laker team could win 70. Their depth is unparalleled. They show signs of being ridiculously unselfish. Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum are both terrific passers. They can grind in a half court-style offense or go full tilt and score a ton in transition. They have the best coach in the history of the game and the best player in the league. 70 is possible.
We asked ESPN's Ric Bucher about this team on yesterday's Mason & Ireland show and he says that over-confidence and complacency are what LA needs to guard against. It's how they play in January with a 4-game lead in the West that will determine how close they get to 70. Laker assistant coach Jim Clemmons was also on yesterday's show, and he used the big "L word." Legacy.
At some point, does Kobe start thinking, "I've got all the pieces I need to win a championship. I have a chance to do what only one other player has ever done. Win 70+ games and the NBA title." He can officially "Be like Mike."
Here is the history of teams with 60+ wins since the magical run of the 1995-96 Bulls.
2007-08 Celtics - 66 wins [NBA Championship]
2006-07 Mavericks - 67 wins [Lost in 1st Round]
2006-07 Suns - 61 wins [Lost in Western Conference Finals]
2005-06 Pistons - 64 wins [Lost in Eastern Conference Finals]
2005-06 Spurs - 63 wins [Lost in Western Conference Finals]
2004-05 Suns - 62 wins [Lost in Western Conference Finals]
2003-04 Pacers - 61 wins [Lost in Eastern Conference Finals]
2002-03 Mavericks - 60 wins [Lost in the Western Conference Finals]
2002-03 Spurs - 60 wins [NBA Championship]
2001-02 Kings - 61 wins [Lost in Western Conference Finals]
1999-00 Lakers - 67 wins [NBA Championship]
1997-98 Jazz - 62 wins [Lost in NBA Finals]
1997-98 Lakers - 61 wins [Lost in Western Conference Finals]
1997-98 Bulls - 62 wins [NBA Championship]
1996-97 Jazz - 64 wins [Lost in NBA Finals]
1996-97 Heat - 61 wins [Lost in Eastern Conference Finals]
1996-97 Bulls - 69 wins [NBA Championship]
1995-96 Magic - 60 wins [Lost in Eastern Conference Finals]
1995-96 Bulls - 72 wins [NBA Championship]
1995-96 Sonics - 64 wins [Lost in NBA Finals]
In the last 13 years starting with 1995-96, 20 teams have won 60+ games in a season, but, since the Bulls last title in 1997-98, the team with the best NBA regular season record has only won the title 3 times.
70 wins is possible, but is it a good idea to make it a goal?