Monday, June 16, 2008

What Could Have Been. . .

As this year's Finals wrap up, I thought it an appropriate time to remember the Jazz's back to back appearances in the NBA's most hallowed series. ESPN's numbers guru John Hollinger (not to be confused with that same company's hoops columnist and closet Mormon Chad Ford) recently used some statistical wizardry to rank and compare all of the teams to win an Eastern or Western Conference playoff series since the ABA merged with the NBA.

His work lends credence to what many Jazz fans have often suspected. For starters, the '97 and '98 Bulls were damn good: according to Hollinger, the 5th and 12th best teams ever, respectively. Drawing them was some real bad luck for our boys from Utah, because as far as Finals teams go, Stockton, Malone & Co. were particularly good those two years. In fact, as many in the Salt Lake Valley have long maintained, it appears that the '97 Jazz were the best team to never win a title. That squad is ranked as the 24th best team of all-time, won 64 games during the regular season (the most by a team that didn't win it all), and were only outscored by the Bulls -- who, remember, were the 5th best team ever -- by four points over six games in their Finals matchup.

But before all of you Jerry Sloan lovers go crying to your mommies about how unfair it was that the Jazz had to play the Bulls at the peak of their powers, ponder this. In 1995 the Jazz had homecourt advantage in the opening round with Houston and led the concluding Game 5 at the Delta Center at halftime. But after approximately 72 missed three pointers by David "I'll have another shot of vodka with those two beers" Benoit, our guys were home for the summer and the Rockets were cruising on to a title. The real punch to the gut? That Houston squad was only the 45th best Finals team out of the 60 ranked, and their opponent that year, the Orlando Magic, was 46th. Ah, what could have been. . .

2 comments:

The Crotty Kid said...

I also note that Hollinger ranks Malone 1998 as the best individual finals performance on a losing squad. 17th overall. Not too shabby for a guy known for choking in the playoffs.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/playoffs2008/columns/story?columnist=hollinger_john&page=FinalsPerformances-11-20

The Crotty Kid said...

Also, quick side note: Hollinger is from Mahwah, New Jersey. As you all know, Mahwah is the international corporate headquarters of a former employer of Booner and I: Dialamerica.

FYI: I was on the platinum team. Booner wasn't.