Give Steve Kerr credit.
Not only has the Warriors coach downplayed talk of his team's potentially unprecedented 16-0 romp through the playoffs, he rarely took the bait even during the record-setting 2015-16 regular season on whether that team stood as the NBA's all-time best.
"There's only one Michael," Kerr said during the Warriors' 73-9 run last season, referencing Jordan and the 1995-96 Bulls' 72-10 record.
But here come the Warriors again, on the precipice of perfection. They're a Friday victory away from the almost unthinkable, a 16-0 postseason mark and their second title in three seasons.
With Kevin Durant on board, where these Warriors rank among the league's all-time best could be an annual affair. Much like the Jordan versus LeBron James debate, it's as much fun as it is inconclusive.
But in taverns and on talk radio, in chat rooms and clicks to newspaper websites, most want a winner and argue for it with passion. Rules changes and other variables make that impossible. Just as Stephen Curry doesn't have to deal with a Jordan hand check on the perimeter, Jordan doesn't live in this age of 24-7, social-media driven news cycles.
But heck, let's play the 1995-96 Bulls versus this season's Warriors out just for fun.
First, some numbers: If the Warriors win Friday, they will cap an 83-15 regular season and postseason combined. The 1995-96 Bulls went 87-13.
This season's Warriors boasted a regular-season point differential of plus-11.6, the fourth-best in league history behind the 1971-72 Lakers, 1970-71 Bucks and, yes, the 1995-96 Bulls. Their postseason point differential stands at plus-16.2, which substantially would shatter the 2000-01 Lakers' record of plus-12.8. The 1995-96 Bulls raged through their 15-3 postseason with a plus-10.6 differential.
The 1995-96 Bulls ranked first in scoring at 105.2 points per game, third in points allowed at 92.9 per game and first in both offensive and defensive rating (points scored and allowed per 100 possessions) for a net rating of plus-13.4.
This season's Warriors finished first in scoring at 115.9 points per game, 11th in points allowed at 104.3 per game and first in offensive rating and second in defensive rating for a net rating of plus-11.6.
The 1995-96 Bulls featured three Hall of Famers in Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, two All-Star starters in Jordan and Pippen, two All-NBA first-team members in Jordan and Pippen and three first-team All-Defensive players in Jordan, Pippen and Rodman.
This season's Warriors project to at least two Hall of Famers in Durant and Curry, featured two All-Star starters in Curry and Durant and two All-Star reserves in Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, two All-NBA second-team selections in Curry and Durant and one third-team selection in Green and project to have at least Green on an All-Defensive team when they're announced in June.
Now, some matchups: Jordan versus Curry? Yes, please. Pippen on Durant? Oh yeah. Rodman and Green brawling, er, boxing out for rebounds? Bring it on.
This is where the different eras and rules come into play with the most significance.
This season's Warriors attempted 2,563 3-pointers and played at a pace averaging 99.8 possessions per 48 minutes, fourth in the league. The 1995-96 Bulls shot 1,349 3-pointers — 1,214 fewer! — and averaged 91.1 possessions per game to rank 20th.
In the mythical matchup, the Warriors surely would be playing small often. So while Luc Longley would start on Zaza Pachulia, Rodman and Green likely would be playing center and Toni Kukoc and Andre Iguodala would be closing games.
That sound you hear is Ron Harper hyperventilating with excitement to try to guard Klay Thompson. Harper, after all, is the one who opined that the 1995-96 Bulls would sweep last season's Warriors.
We won't go that far. The prediction here is Bulls in seven. And not because of homerism or any mythologizing of Michael or to pooh-pooh the Las Vegas oddsmakers who set the Warriors as 6.5-point favorites.
No, it comes down to defense. As good as the Warriors' defense is, the view here is that those Bulls were better. They set the template for switching and guarding multiple positions, which these Warriors do extremely well as well. But the Bulls were better and more physical.
Greatness transcends any era. This season's Warriors would have figured out how to excel in the 1995-96 Bulls' era and vice versa.
The most expansively Kerr waded into the delicious debate, he concluded to ESPN.com that the series "would hinge on a step-back Curry 3 over Michael at the buzzer. And we'll never know if it goes in or not."
Sounds about right.