Sorry, Lakers fans. The Chicago Bulls’ record-setting 72-10 campaign won’t be topped this season.
At least that’s what Phil Jackson said Wednesday, and he’d probably know a thing or two about such success. He was the Bulls’ coach when they set the NBA standard for victories in 1995-96.
He wasn’t being critical when he said the Lakers (15-2) wouldn’t do it this season. Nor was he throwing in the towel by conceding it wouldn’t happen.
It didn’t even seem like he was inspiring the team with a publicly delivered “us-against-them” tactic. He might have just been telling the truth, at least from his perspective.
“I don’t think there’s any chance that we’re going to get anywhere close to 70 wins,” he said. “I’m not going to say that we can’t win 60, but I don’t think that there’s a chance [at 70] -- and that’s if everything goes well health-wise. Traveling in the West is just too difficult. Changing time zones, it just makes it very difficult to be consistent night in and night out on the road.”
Jackson has said in the past that centrally located teams (such as, well, Chicago) aren’t as fatigued because they never have cross-country trips. In fact, Kobe Bryant spoke with him a few years ago about the favorable geography of that Bulls team.
“Chicago is smack-dab in the middle, so the travel time isn’t as big as going from the West Coast all the way to the East Coast. It’s a three-hour trip either way you look at it,” Bryant said Wednesday. “Those players are more well-rested, have more energy, better legs. It’ll be extremely difficult for any team to do that now, particularly a team that’s on the West Coast.”
For what it’s worth, Jackson also didn’t think Boston (18-2) or Cleveland (15-3) would hit 70 victories.
“That would be a pretty difficult task,” he said.
The Lakers are worth $584 million and are the second-most valuable NBA franchise behind the New York Knicks, according to an annual report on all 30 teams by Forbes magazine.
The Lakers were worth $24 million more than last year’s valuation and also had the league’s second-highest operating profit -- $47.9 million (on $191 million in revenues.)
The Knicks ($613 million) are followed by the Lakers and Bulls ($504 million).
The Clippers are valued 25th at $297 million.
The magazine also said the Bulls enjoyed the biggest operating profit in the past year ($55.4 million). Forbes claimed that all top 10 NBA teams were profitable, with one exception -- Mark Cuban’s Dallas Mavericks posted an operating loss of $13.6 million.
Lost amid the story of the Lakers’ collapse against Indiana on Tuesday was the fact that Bryant became the second-youngest player to score 22,000 points in his career. He hit an off-balance layup near the end of the second quarter to reach 22,000 at 30 years and 101 days old. Wilt Chamberlain did it at 30 years and 100 days. . . . The 76ers’ Elton Brand, playing his first game against the Lakers since signing as a free agent, had only three points on one-for-seven shooting in 25 minutes. He left in the third quarter because of a strained hamstring.