Gary Vitti – ex-Lakers athletic trainer – offered a different perspective on Michael Jordan’s path towards six NBA championships. Friendly warning: some of you won’t like it.
Vitti started a segment off by saying this: “I love Michael and respect him, but I am not sure Michael changed the game as much as the game changed, which allowed Michael to be Michael.” According to Gary, MJ’s dominance during the 90s was purely situational. It wasn’t about his greatness, but a series of events that allowed Jordan and the Bulls to thrive.
When Michael got his first ring in ’91 and the five that came after it, there wasn’t anybody left. The Lakers were done because Kareem had retired, and then Magic came up positive for HIV in ’91. So he wasn’t challenged again by the great Laker team, the ones that because Kareem had already retired before ’91, so he wasn’t part of that series against I don’t know what they would have done. They had Bill Cartwright, they had Cliff Levingston; I mean, what were they going to do with Kareem?Gary Vitti, Scoop B Radio
The NBA had four outstanding teams in the second part of the ’80s – the Celtics, Lakers, Sixers, Pistons. According to Vitti, the teams Jordan faced in the finals were good — not superteams, though. The game changed, and Jordan took full advantage of that, but he never faced the real competition that preceded him.
So he didn’t play the Lakers, the Celtics got old very very fast. Bird, Parish, and McHale all got old at the same time, so the Celtics were done. There was no challenge there, and the Pistons were done, so basically when you really look at the six rings that the Bulls won, they didn’t play anybody, they didn’t play any of the championship-caliber teams of the 80s like the Lakers, the Sixers, the Celtics, and the Pistons. All four of those teams had basically had their run, and it was over, and so it’s not taking anything away from him because he did what he was supposed to do. He dominated, but the game wasn’t the same game, it was different.Gary Vitti, via Scoop B Radio
Even though many fans wouldn’t agree with this statement, there is some truth to what Vitti is saying. The league’s expansion in the late ’80s and throughout the mid-’90s depleted some of the talent teams possessed. During Jordan’s first three-peat, you could definitely say they faced some genuinely great teams that challenged them during their championship run. Things might have been a bit easier in their second three-peat, but it doesn’t diminish everything Jordan and the Bulls did during that period.