Five greatest single-season teams in NBA history

Chicago Bulls 1996
Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls are a lock as one of the NBA's greatest ever teams. Photo from CBS.

The greatest teams in the NBA have one thing in common: a championship. In order to cement a team as one of the greatest in NBA history, they have to win a title.

A team can go 82-0 in the regular season, but it is not enough if they can’t deliver in the intense atmosphere of the playoffs. They have to prove it in games where everything is on the line and win it all.

Greatest NBA teams of all-time

The formula is simple: A great team should have a dominant regular and postseason record, plus a championship title. Thus, here are the five greatest NBA teams of all time:

16-17 Warriors

Regular season record: 67-15
Postseason record: 16-1
Finals MVP: Kevin Durant
Head coach: Steve Kerr

The Warriors built one of the greatest dynasties in the past decade—having won three championships in 2015, 2017, and 2018. Simply put, they changed the way basketball is played in modern times. They were the pioneers of small ball and three-point shooting.

The first dynasty was led by Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. They were already stacked at this time. That roster was enough to win the NBA title as they set a regular season record of 73-9 in 2015.

However, all of these changed when they signed another all-star, Kevin Durant, in free agency. Clearly, they want to bounce back from the huge humiliation when they blew a 3-1 lead against the Cavaliers. And as expected, the 16-17 Warriors steamrolled both the regular and postseason. These were one of the superteams that no one could just beat.

00-01 Lakers

Regular season record: 56-26
Postseason record: 15-1
Finals MVP: Shaquille O’Neal
Head coach: Phil Jackson

Who would have forgotten the iconic duo of Kobe and Shaq?

The 00-01 Lakers dominated at the start of the new millennium from 2000 to 2002—having won three consecutive championships. And it was this team who stood out the greatest in this time span as they just lost one game in the playoffs.

To top it all, this was Prime Shaq’s time. Who could’ve guarded Shaq in his prime? Shaq easily averaged 30 points and 15 rebounds per game in the playoffs.

85-86 Celtics

Regular season record: 67-15
Postseason record: 15-3
Finals MVP: Larry Bird
Head coach: KC Jones

We won’t leave this list without the 85-86 Boston Celtics. It was arguably the most balanced team in NBA history. Having Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish on the same team is unfair.

Back then, the teams wished that they didn’t play at the Garden. Why? Because they were just dominant at home. Their home record was an NBA-record 40 wins. Unbelievable.

Also, this time was the peak of one of the greatest rivalries in the NBA, Celtics vs Lakers.

86-87 Lakers

Regular season record: 65-17
Postseason record: 15-3
Finals MVP: Magic Johnson
Coach: Pat Riley

The 86-87 Showtime Lakers were one of the most entertaining teams to watch as they perfected the run-and-gun style of basketball.

Leading the charge was 6’9 point guard, Magic Johnson. Some notable Laker greats were Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, and AC Green.

It was just fitting for the Lakers to bounce back after a humiliating defeat the prior season. Pat Riley changed things internally and improved their training regimen.

95-96 Bulls

Regular season record: 72-10
Postseason record: 15-3
Finals MVP: Michael Jordan
Head coach: Phil Jackson

The 95-96 Bulls were the greatest NBA team of all time. Period.

The year prior was a disaster since Jordan just came out from retirement, and ultimately lost to the Orlando Magic in the playoffs.

However, things quickly turned around when they acquired Dennis Rodman from the Spurs.

The Bulls cruised to a 72-10 record in the regular season (second-best in NBA history) and 15-3 in the playoffs, beating the Seattle Supersonics in the Finals. The big three of Jordan, Pippen, and Rodman were just too much for opposing teams.

It was clearly the start of a new dynasty in Chicago after this year. They proceeded to win another two titles in 97 and 98.

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About Jeremy Mallari 44 Articles
Jeremy lives and breathes basketball. He's an avid NBA fan for almost a decade now.

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