There is no right answer. There is no wrong answer. There are, apparently, some loud answers.
The Blackhawks' Catch-22 of their point streak: It created such a national buzz that people ran out of nice things to say so they began comparing them to a basketball team in another city. The contrarian in me understands the realities of 24/7 sports debate demanded by TV and radio stations. But has anybody really ever watched Patrick Kane make magic on the ice this year and thought of LeBron or D-Wade?
The Hawks will try to extend their NHL record of starting the season without a regulation loss to 23 games Tuesday night at home against the Wild. The Heat ran their winning streak to 15 on Monday with a 97-81 victory over the Timberwolves. Both the Hawks and Heat have excelled lately at the United Center, too, but that is where worthwhile comparisons end. Compare the Hawks to other hockey teams who started well or to the most dominant teams Chicago ever witnessed in our city, but comparing them to the Heat isn't apt.
The Hawks wear skates; the Heat play in high tops. The NHL features so much competitive parity that a No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, the Kings, won the Stanley Cup last year. Meanwhile, the NBA includes the Eastern Conference, bad enough to give Duke and Syracuse reason to believe they could beat the Bucks for the final playoff spot.
Consistently, the NHL is more even. That doesn't necessarily give the Hawks' 19-0-3 start more weight than the Heat's 14 straight wins. That gives an arbitrary argument necessary context for anybody engaged in it. If you insist on a Hawks debate, discuss whether goalie Corey Crawford or 9-0-0 backup Ray Emery will give the Hawks their best chance of winning a Cup. (A slight edge goes to Crawford).
Both the Hawks and the Heat eventually might win championships in 2013, but neither team has completed its regular-season, let alone the postseason. They have that in common more than anything. Thus the true title of the best team in sports currently belongs to the Ravens, whose 10-6 regular-season record was moot.
Nobody plans a parade halfway through any season. History says the Hawks would be foolish to get swept away with the euphoria 46 percent into theirs, fun as it is. Enjoy the run of a team on a historic pace, crank the "Chelsea Dagger" song after goals but don't lose perspective amid all the winning. That should be easier to do here than in most places.
Remember the Bears started 7-1 but finished last season by firing coach Lovie Smith, the most recent disappointing example in a sports city haunted by them. More likely to come up in the Hawks dressing room before the playoffs is the story of the 1995-96 Red Wings, coached by Scotty Bowman.
The Red Wings set the NHL record for most wins in a regular-season with a 62-13-7 record. Their 19th victory came in the 28th game — six games more than the Hawks needed. Funny thing happened to the Wings on their way to hockey immortality: They fell victim to the Avalanche. The Avs, whose staff included an assistant coach named Joel Quenneville, ousted the Wings in the conference finals and eventually captured the Cup.
As easy as that should make overconfidence to avoid for everybody, it still would be hard to accept anybody calling this Blackhawks streak overrated. Even with hockey's unique system awarding points for overtime games, everybody in the NHL plays by the same rules. Their start warrants no asterisk, only admiration for a deep team that has had 12 players score game-winning goals. Nobody in the league ever has started a season more ready for success.
Winning 19 of the first 22 games — they lost the other three games in shootouts — puts the Hawks on pace to win 71 games if it were a normal 82-game season. In 2009-10, the year the Hawks raised the banner, they needed 29 games before notching 19 victories. The 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens, considered the greatest NHL team ever, went 60-8-12 and established a record with 132 points — but didn't win their 19th game or register their 41st point until their 26th game.
The only thing close in contemporary Chicago sports came when the 1995-96 Bulls started 19-2 on their way to a 72-10 record. The '85 Bears went 12-0 before losing. The '13 Blackhawks have thrust themselves into the conversation as Chicago's best sports team ever.
Now that is a debate worth having locally. But get back to me in late June.