Can LeBron James’ Los Angeles Lakers Emulate Michael Jordan’s 1998 Chicago Bulls?

Published 08/12/2021, 12:00 AM EDT
Oct 11, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) and center Dwight Howard (39) celebrate their win after game six of the 2020 NBA Finals at AdventHealth Arena. The Los Angeles Lakers won 106-93 to win the series. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports


The Los Angeles Lakers failed to defend their title last season. They were eliminated in the first round because of injuries to Anthony Davis and LeBron James. Hence, they made new signings in the off-season. Notably, they acquired the services of Russell Westbrook from the Wizards.

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However, as age has been a huge issue for the Lakers, it could affect them. But recent posts show that there was another team that was old like the Lakers, and they found success! It was Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in 1998. So how do the current Lakers compare to the 98′ Bulls?

Jun 3, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3), forward LeBron James (23) and coach Frank Vogel react in the second half during game six in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs against the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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2021 Lakers vs 1998 Bulls

The media have been at the necks of LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. This is because all of their recent signings have been older players. Hence, people have been saying that they are an old team and are having a laugh about it. However, the age does not describe the caliber of players they have signed.

May 27, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) celebrates scoring a basket in the third quarter against the Phoenix Suns in game three in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

They have 10 players over the age of 32 as of now. Moreover, 4 of them will be 35 by the time the next season begins. Looking at this, everyone would say they are weak. However, if compared to the 98′ Bulls, it is a whole different story.

The Chicago Bulls won the NBA title in 1998. 35 YO Michael Jordan led the team to their 6th and last championship. However, they were no young pups. Despite all of their starters being 30 or older during the season, they still won the championship. This was mainly because of the right pieces around Michael Jordan.

The Bulls’ Michael Jordan drives to the basket as teammate Dennis Rodman and the Clippers’ Loy Vaught(left) look on during game at Sports Arena earlier this season. (Photo by Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

So, that is good news for the Lakers as they have assembled great pieces and balance in their team. Moreover, they have the youth in Anthony Davis. Hence, even though old, they have the competitive fire alive. As Carmelo Anthony said, he is there to compete for a title. But why could the Bulls dominate even though they were old?

Why Michael Jordan and the Bulls could win in 1998

The game has grown a lot since MJ’s era. At that time, it would be rare to see a team score over 100 points in a single game. On the other hand, it is a common sight to see games with over 100 points in the present day.

NBA Basketball -Chicago Bulls Michael Jordan and Scotty Pippen during a March 22, 1997 game at United Center in Chicago. (.) (Photo by Darren Whitley/Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images)

This is because the pace of the game has increased a lot more than before. During Jordan’s time, the game had fewer possessions. Hence, that took a comparatively less toll on their bodies. Therefore, they could perform at a high level well into their thirties.

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Now, it is visible that players’ efficiency decreases as they age. Let’s look at Dwight Howard from the Lakers as an example. In his prime, he averaged 22 points, 2 blocks, and 14 rebounds. Moreover, he was the star in Orlando. Now, at 35, he is a role player for the Lakers, putting up 7 points per game.

Sep 18, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard (39) talks with Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray (27) during the third quarter in game one of the Western Conference Finals of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

To sum it up, it is much more challenging to make an impact at an older age in today’s game as compared to before. Do you think the Lakers can defy the odds and win with this team? Let us know in the comments below.

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Anuj Talwalkar

294 articles

Anuj Talwalkar is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. He is a student studying at NM College in Mumbai, aspiring to pursue sports management to follow his love for sports. Anuj started following the NBA last year, and he loves to combine his passion for writing with his understanding of basketball.

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