August 19, 2010
I don't know what's gotten in to the Van Gundy family, but they seem to be suffering from an acute case of Heat stroke. Miami Heat pun zing, for sure.
First, Jeff spouted off about Miami breaking every conceivable team record in the history of the NBA, which is to be expected because he's paid to have opinions. Now, his brother Stan, the Orlando Magic coach — is refusing to take sides against the family and echoing Jeff's sentiments. Those crazy Van Gundys and their outlandish predictions.
Stan guested on Dan LeBatard's radio talk show earlier this week and he couldn't help but agree with Jeff. Here's the money quote, lovingly transcribed by Sports Radio Interviews:
"If I look at what the Bulls did winning 72 games and I look at the Heat roster, I am going to tell you that the Heat roster is better than any roster that Michael Jordan played with with the Bulls. I don't think that people predicting them breaking the win total and being in the 70s and the whole thing, I don't think those are expectations that are out of line based on their roster ... Dwyane Wade(notes) is certainly, in my opinion anyway, as good as he was, is better than Scottie Pippen. Chris Bosh(notes) is better than Toni Kukoc. Mike Miller(notes) is every bit as good a shooter as (John) Paxson or (Steve) Kerr or anybody they put there. Plus, he's 6′8″. If you start going down the list, I don't think there is any question that the roster the Heat have is as talented a roster if not more so as any roster there has ever been in the NBA."
You know what they say — blood is thicker than measured reactions to blockbuster free agent transactions. Or something like that.
In actuality, Stan isn't totally crazy. I'm not entirely convinced that Dwyane Wade is better than Scottie Pippen. Offensively Wade tops Scottie, no doubt. But when it comes to the other half of the game — defense — there was no better or more disruptive perimeter defender, ever, than Pippen. That's a big deal, and I'd be willing to offer a tie on that comparison. Furthermore, I will concede Toni Kukoc is not the equal of Chris Bosh, but Bosh's corollary should probably be Dennis Rodman who is better at rebounding and defense than Bosh, just as much as Bosh is a better offensive player. We can call that one a wash as well, or give a slight nod to the Heat if you're feeling generous.
The Steve Kerr/Mike Miller comparison? Hardly true. Through their first 10 seasons — which include Kerr's stint with the Bulls — Kerr's shooting stats are far better than Miller's in every category. Considering he's one of the best shooters of all-time, that's not a surprise. Not to mention, Kerr's 1995-96 season — the year the Bulls won 72 games — was one of his best as he shot .515 from three, .506 overall from the field and .929 from the free throw line, all while playing the second most minutes per game in his career. Mike Miller is good, but he's not that good.
Top to bottom, the Heat roster probably is better than that of the Bulls, but that's because the Bulls had guys like Dickey Simpkins, Judd Buechler and John Salley actually playing double digit minutes every night. Those guys were big, hilarious parts of my childhood, but they aren't anything to write a blog post home about.
Nonetheless, the Heat have put together a team that is at least worth comparing to the winningest team of all-time. That's pretty amazing considering how top-heavy they are salary-wise. Of course, comparing the rosters doesn't take in to account the competitive advantage afforded to a team that employs both Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson, but that's not really fair. Let's just say the Heat will be good — very good, even — before we hand them the wins record. Good idea? Yeah, I thought so too.