Ranking all-time NBA champions

2011-12 Miami Heat tops L.A.'s 'Showtime' and Michael Jordan's Bulls dynasty

Updated: October 22, 2012, 3:26 PM ET
By Neil Paine | Basketball-Reference.com
Michael Jordan, LeBron Jordan, Magic JohnsonUS Presswire, Getty ImagesLeBron's title team was better than Michael Jordan's and Magic Johnson's teams -- on paper.

For some, the natural instinct last June was to slap an asterisk on the Miami Heat's NBA championship. After all, it came in a lockout-shortened 66-game campaign, plus LeBron James and company didn't defeat one of the league's traditional glamour franchises -- namely, the Los Angeles Lakers -- in the Finals. In fact, at one point they were in a 2-1 hole against the Roy Hibbert-led Indiana Pacers, and also were pushed to the brink of elimination by the ancient Boston Celtics (an ill-timed injury to Chris Bosh didn't help in either regard). Their 16-7 record along the way to the title ranked only 40th out of the NBA's 63 all-time champions.

By most measures, then, the 2012 Heat were hardly among the most dominating title-winners in league history. Yet, at the same time, they might have been right up there with the most talented champs ever.

Neil Paine writes for FiveThirtyEight, the data-supported sports, politics and culture site coming soon from ESPN.