Is this really what it’s come to: we have to debate which 22-game win streak is better than another? Or harder? There have been three in the entire history of the NBA and we have pit them against each other?
I’m not sure that was Tracy McGrady’s intent, but that’s how it came off in an interview with ESPN’s Heat Index, talking about if the former Rocket is watching the Heat’s run (he is).
“I’m enjoying watching because of the unknown,” McGrady, by text, said of the Heat’s run. “But the way we did it was a lot harder. Having Yao [Ming] go out [due to injury] around the 12th game and Dikembe [Mutombo] filling his role was huge for our team. And we didn’t have three guys making $100 million.”
I don’t know if you can say winning 22 games now or then is harder because both are pretty ridiculous runs.
That 2008 Rocket team’s run was more improbable. The 1972 Lakers (33 wins in a row) had Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West and Gail Goodrich, all Hall of Famers. No doubt the current Heat squad is stacked with a few elite players like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. The Lakers team won a title that year, the Heat are the defending champions.
That Rocket team had what should have been elite guys in McGrady and Yao Ming, but at that point their bodies were starting to betray them. They were the second best defensive team in the NBA that season for Rick Adelman, but they were pretty pedestrian offensively. They would win 55 games but that was just good enough to be middle of the pack in the West and due to the division alignment they were officially the five seed. Eventually they would lose to the Jazz in the first round of the playoffs.
The Rockets was a good team that just got ridiculously hot and a little hot and lucky for a stretch. It was improbable. That Lakers team was a powerhouse. It will be a few years before we can fairly judge this era of the Heat, but right now the 22 game streak doesn’t feel like something out of the blue, it more fits in with how good they really are.
But I don’t think it was easy for any of them.