Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers: Dissecting the dynasties

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The NBA, from the draft order to the salary cap, is built to ensure a level of equality amongst its 30 franchises.

Every so often, however, the stars align and one team becomes a dominant force - taking a period in time and stamping their authority on it to become true dynasties.

The Chicago Bulls of the 1990s (six titles between '91-'98) and the early '00s Los Angeles Lakers (three Larry O'Brien Trophies between 2000-2004) certainly fit the description.


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But just what is it in the makeup of these two famous dynasties that allowed them to reach the NBA summit, and keep their flag flying? And what separates them from each other?


Horace Grant, a man who played a part in both team's periods of dominance, told GiveMeSport recently that confidence and the killer instinct were two vital ingredients present in both rosters:

"We were arrogant to a certain degree in terms of having that confidence when we stepped on the floor, especially when I was with the Bulls," the four-time NBA champion explained.

"Our goal was to go out and demolish our opponents. If we had them down by 20, we wanted to step on their neck and make it 40."

When you have perhaps the most competitive player in NBA history, Michael Jordan, leading the way, demolishing your opponents becomes a pretty regular occurrence.

Their determination to make a statement on a nightly basis saw the Bulls go 388-104 in the six regular seasons that weren't interrupted by MJ's spell in MLB. That span also included the 72-10 season record and two three-peats.

One-two punch

If Jordan's win-at-all-costs mentality was the foundation from which Chicago built their dynasty, then Kobe has a similar effect in Los Angeles.

Bryant and Jordan are known for their relentless drive and it is no coincidence that both these dynasty teams have a superstar built in the same mould.

"We had the same philosophy with the Lakers," continued Grant. "We would go out and destroy them early so that teams wouldn't have confidence to stay with us in the fourth quarter."

The Bulls, of course, had the fearsome Jordan-Pippen pairing that often had opponents beat before they'd even set food on the hardwood. But, whilst the Lakers didn't have the two Hall-of-Famers, they did have their own one-two punch destined for Springfield.

Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal, when coexisting harmoniously, were equally unplayable. The Lakers lost only one game throughout the 2002 playoffs, for instance, as Shaq earned the MVP award and, when on form, they ensured the Lakers could score from anywhere.

Zen master

Of course, Jordan-Pippen and Kobe-Shaq wouldn't have worked quite so well without the right supporting cast. And its impossible to discuss the two dynasties without crediting Phil Jackson - the man who found the right balance in both the Windy City and the City of Angels.

The Zen Master brought his triangle offense to both teams and reigned in both Jordan and Kobe's score-first mentalities in the process.

Through his unique man-management techniques (some involving medication and group chanting) the veteran head coach was able to cultivate the perfect environment for winning titles.

His ability to subtly tweak and improve rosters - especially in Chicago - was also key to extending both the Lakers and Bulls' strangleholds on the NBA.

The arrival of Dennis Rodman in Chicago from their rivals Detroit elevated the Bulls to the next level. In L.A., meanwhile, the addition of the likes of Horace Grant and Ron Harper from his old team provided the vital experience required for a title run.

They may have shared a relentless mentality, a Hall of Fame duo and a head coach with connections to the basketball Gods, but the Bulls and Lakers are far from a mirror image.


Putting the achievements of both teams side by side, there is one obvious issue. The Bulls were able to maintain their dynasty for another three championships whilst the Lakers saw the fragile Shaq-Kobe relationship disintegrate before Bryant's true prime.

According to Bleacher Report's Howard Beck speaking earlier this season, Phil Jackson himself summed it up whilst still the coach of the Lakers. 

“There wasn’t anything disciplinary I had to do (in Chicago)," Jackson explained in the midst of the Lakers' three-peat run.

"We had to do some disciplinary things with Dennis Rodman, but we signed off on them...I went to the team and I said Dennis is gonna be late...but we can’t act out of sorts with this and become childish because we have to make allowances for his behavior.” 

Jackson didn't see the same cohesion in Los Angeles:

“This group has been so childish.

“Guys should have to know there’s a certain amount of coaching that has to be done, and you have to submit to that coaching regardless, and that has been a difficult thing because some of these players have not really wanted to be coached.

“Some of it lies with Kobe and some of it lies with Shaq. They’re the two leaders. They have to be the most coachable.”

Ultimately, both teams take their place in NBA folklore as two of the most dominant groups of players to play in the league.

What makes things even more interesting is you can already seem some similarities with the dynasty-primed Golden State Warriors.

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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