The Los Angeles Lakers won 33 games in a row in the 1971-72 season. They also beat the New York Knicks for the NBA championship in five games.
The Miami Heat’s streak snapped at 27. They are defending champions and the best team in the NBA. Given all that, they had to win an additional seven straight games to break a 40-year-old record of 33 games.
The longest winning streak I was ever a part of was 11 games for the Denver Nuggets in 1984. During that time, it seemed as though we would never lose again. I can also tell you, it takes a tremendous toll on you physically and mentally.
LeBron James is averaging over 38 minutes per game. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are not far behind. At some point during the streak, the Heat would’ve had to decide what was more important, the winning streak or rested superstars going into the playoffs.
I thought it might be interesting to compare the two teams. Here’s a breakdown of them both:
Outside Miami Heat perimeter stars James and Wade are, without a doubt, one of the most dynamic duos ever put on a basketball court. The Lakers had two Hall of Fame legends Jerry West and Gail Goodrich. At the time, arguably the best backcourt ever assembled.
Advantage: The Heat. It is very difficult for me to go against West and Goodrich but the overwhelming talent of James and Wade is just too hard to ignore.
Inside The frontcourt for the Miami Heat is led by Chris Bosh, a perennial All-Star and someone who has sacrificed his individual game more than anybody else for the good of the team. The Los Angeles Lakers frontcourt was led by Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain. Chamberlain is arguably the single greatest talent ever to touch a basketball. He averaged 50 points per game one season and at one time, led every statistical category you would care to count.
Advantage: Los Angeles Lakers. Wilt Chamberlain, although well beyond his prime, averaged 21 rebounds during the 1972 playoffs.
Coaching Miami’s Eric Spoelstra is an excellent basketball coach and underrated for the job that he does. Lakers Bill Sharman, also a Hall of Famer, was a star player with the Boston Celtics before he coached a game. Incidentally, he also invented today’s standard practice of gameday shootarounds.
Advantage: Los Angeles Lakers. This is a very difficult comparison, as the job of an NBA coach today is infinitely more complex. In this comparison, one must go with the Hall of Famer.
Any comparison must be taken in context of the era and rest of the league. With this in mind the accomplishment of the Miami Heat so far is staggering.
The one glaring difference in these two teams is of course, Wilt Chamberlain. Even though the game has changed dramatically over the last 40 years, a dominant big man, let alone one of the best ever, can win a game all by himself.
As the Miami Heat close on this historic 33-game win streak of the Lakers, the basketball world will be glued to their televisions. We are all seeing history in the making. It is a great time to be a basketball fan.