I saw the quote of Charles Barkley ranking this year's Lakers against past teams. One huge factor Barkley, as well as everybody else, overlooks is, if the 2001 Lakers played teams from the past, how the game would be officiated.
Would they use 2001 rules, under which skill doesn't mean much and grabbing, pushing and throwing elbows are OK, or would the games be officiated by yesterday's referees who understood the NBA rule book?
People like Shaq and Karl Malone, who rely on initiating contact to be effective, would have fouled out in the first quarter of every game.
NBA basketball used to be about skill, smarts and establishing position. Now players just hack each other and it is called good defense. It is true that many players from 20-30 years ago would have a tougher time in today's NBA. It is equally true that many of today's players could not have played in the NBA 20 to 30 years ago.
There was one team in particular that wasn't mentioned by Barkley, the Chamberlain-West-Goodrich Laker team that set a record for consecutive victories. Mr. Barkley may have been too young to take notice of that team, but you may be sure that Shaq would not "kill" Wilt. Wilt would have fouled out Shaq in the first half. And there was no three-point line in those days. Goodrich and West would have shot the lights out from behind the arc.