Since he left Chicago 12 years ago, Michael Jordan has been the benchmark by which superstars are measured.
The comparisons have been made to Kobe Bryant, and he has earned respect by winning five championships.
The comparisons have been made to LeBron James, and he has... worn Jordan's logo on his shoes.
Now "King James" goes to Miami to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. If the Jordan comparisons hadn't been made enough before, now Miami has a "Big Three" that will undoubtedly draw comparisons to the three stars - Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman - that led the 1995-96 Bulls to the best record in NBA history.
If you think the 2010-11 Miami Heat are as good as that Bulls team, my advice is simple: SHUT UP.
That Bulls team went 72-10 and were a ridiculous blown call from being undefeated at the United Center in the regular season. They won the NBA Championship, and had the best player of all time on the roster.
And that's where the Chicagoan in me stops preaching about how good those Bulls were. Here's the facts.
The 2010-11 Miami Heat will feature three incredible players. LeBron could average a double-double (in points and assists) with the Heat this year, and both Wade and Bosh are special players. Any of the three can take over a game.
But Bosh has never won a playoff series. And LeBron lost in his only trip to the Finals. Wade, meanwhile, hasn't won a title without Shaq (yes, the Kobe argument).
Let's look deeper at the Heat's upcoming roster, though.
The Heat will have to make a decision in the coming days about the future of Michael Beasley with their franchise. If he stays in Miami, the three big free agents will all have to take a paycut. Beasley was the second overall pick after Derrick Rose, but has averages of only 14.3 points and 5.9 rebounds per game in his NBA career.
The only other player on the Heat roster would be Mario Chalmers. The Heat's second pick in the draft a couple years ago, Chalmers is a 6'1 point guard who's career averages are only 8.6 points and 4.2 assists per game.
Beyond those two players, both of whom have had off-the-court issues in their two-year careers, the Heat will sign their three second round selections from this year's draft and then look for a couple players willing to make the league minimum.
Among those three second round picks is DeSean Butler from West Virginia, who famously tore his ACL in March and was hugged on the floor by coach Bob Huggins before leaving the court. His availability is questionable before Christmas.
Another of the Heat's picks, Dexter Pittman from Texas, is described as a talented player "who needs to lose 25-30 pounds to make it in the NBA." So one of the picks that needs to fill the roster has a bad knee, and another needs to get in shape.
Now let's look at the legendary Bulls roster.
Michael Jordan. He was the best, and could not be stopped. LeBron has been stopped. Wade has been stopped. Jordan won "the virtual eight-peat." I'm sorry, but nobody on the Heat roster can touch Michael. He averaged 30.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.2 steals per game that year.
Scottie Pippen might have been "Robin" to Jordan's "Batman," but his numbers were solid that season as well. Just as LeBron might in Miami, Pippen led the Bulls in assists as the small forward with 5.4 per game. However, what is lost in the magic of Michael is that Pippen averaged 19.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.73 steals per game that year.
While Bosh might be a better offensive threat than Dennis Rodman was, neglected is the reality that Rodman dominated opposing team's best post player every night despite being only 6'7 at best. Rodman is arguably one of the three or four best defensive power forwards in the history of the game, and averaged 14.9 rebounds per game that season.
Jordan, Pippen and Rodman were all on the NBA's All-Defense First Team, the first time three teammates had ever accomplished the feat. Jordan led the league in scoring, and Rodman led the league in rebounding. That concludes the comparisons of the two teams' top three players. When you examine the depth of those Bulls, there is no question which is the better team.
Chalmers is nice, but those Bulls had Ron Harper running the point. Harper was an all-NBA defender who could, if needed, average 15-20 points a game; he accepted a diminished role in Chicago to win a championship. He had been an All Star with the Clippers not too far before coming to Chicago, and he was the third Bulls player to average over one steal per game that year. His 1.31 steals per game isn't something you'll see from a secondary player on Miami's roster.
Toni Kukoc averaged 13.1 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game that year. However, he showed during the two seasons Jordan was away and again during that season with Michael that he was a clutch player. The fifth-best player on this year's Heat couldn't carry Kukoc' jock.
Steve Kerr shot .515 from three-point range that year. I wouldn't be shocked if, now that he's no longer the GM in Phoenix, the Heat called to see if he could still hoist a few from downtown. There isn't a sniper on Miami's roster, or one that they can afford, that can shoot like Kerr.
So let's put the comparisons to bed now. The Heat have three stud players on their roster in the middle of the prime of their careers, but they don't have a chance of touching that Bulls team. None.