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Most Vegas oddsmakers would favor 2017 Warriors over 1996, 72-win Bulls

Michael Jordan LeBron James Basketball

FILE - At left is a June 16, 2013 file photo showing LeBron James. At right is an Oct. 2, 2012 file photo showing Michael Jordan. Jordan believes he could beat James in a one-on-one basketball game when he was in his prime. In a video promoting the NBA 2K14 video game that is being released Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, Jordan said there’s a long list of players he would’ve liked to have played one-on-one.


If you’re tired of the comparisons of LeBron James to Michael Jordan, then try this new one.

Who would win a series between these 2017 Golden State Warriors and the 1996 Chicago Bulls? Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen vs. Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant.

ESPN’s Ben Fawkes went and asked a bunch of Las Vegas oddsmakers, and the answers were interesting.

ESPN spoke with seven Vegas bookmakers and asked them to set the odds in a game and series between this year’s Golden State team and Michael Jordan’s 1995-96 Chicago Bulls squad that went 72-10 en route to an NBA title.

Five of the six had the Warriors favored, from as high as -8 at the MGM (per Jay Rood, vice president of race and sports at MGM Resorts) to as low as -2 at William Hill US (per Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading, William Hill US).

Chris Andrews, sportsbook director at South Point, wasn’t crazy about the comparison but said, “it would have to be pretty close to pick-em, point spread and series. It would depend on [which team] could force its style on the other.”

There’s a reflexive reaction of some fans — either ones from Chicago, or people who grew up watching Jordan — to aggressively defend him against all comers (LeBron, Kobe, whoever). There’s a lot of people emotionally invested in Jordan being the GOAT and to question that is seen as heresy. Those fans will flip out at this idea.

The reality, it would be close and entertaining series.

There’s one big question that would significantly impact this hypothetical series: Are we using 2017 rules enforcement or 1996? As you can see this season watching the Warriors rout the Cavaliers, the modern defensive rules allowing zone make it much tougher to score in isolation, you can start to take that away. On the flip side, if the strict man-to-man defense and more physical rules of 1996 were allowed, the Bulls would have a massive advantage. Both of these teams were almost perfectly assembled to take advantage of the rules of that era.

But that would be a fun series to watch, and be a lot more competitive than the first two games of this year’s Finals.