Boston – NBA dynasties have some commonalities that have helped them turn the scales for decades before memorizing teams.
Among them: each had a generation of players in their position on Mount Rushmore.
In the 1980s, Larry Bird’s Boston Celtics battled Magic Johnson and Karim Abdul-Jabbar with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Michael Jordan Bulls ruled in the ’90s, then the Flickering Torch – the championship here and there, but never twice in a row – handed over to the San Antonio Spurs with Tim Duncan.
Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant sneaked into the Lakers’ three peaks in the early 2000s.
And then there was … none. There were other players of all time – of course, LeBron James. James Heath became champion in 2012 and 2013, but soon disbanded.
Dynasties demand more than that.
Patience. Money. Owners willing to spend. And first of all, it seems to change the “break” of basketball and the style of play or perception of the game. That is why there were no new dynasties before the unification of Golden State and Stephen Carr.
Wearing a NBA Championship baseball cap late Thursday, Karim knocked on the table with both hands in response to the news media’s first question of the night.
“We have four championships,” said Karim, adding that “this one, of course, is different.”
Kurim repeated the phrase “hits differently” four times during the media session – maybe so. Karim, Clay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala together won the NBA Championship for the fourth time in eight years.
“It’s awesome because none of us are the same,” Green said. “When you are the same, you usually collide with people. The only thing that is permanent for us is victory is the most important. That’s always the goal. “
Golden State won with relentless, methodical efficiency as Duncan Spurs. San Antonio won five championships from 1999 to 2014. Duncan, Manu Jinobil and Tony Parker were all stars, although Duncan was in his own league. Their championships spread – Parker and Ginobili were not in the NBA for the first time – but they were a constant threat because of their disciplined brilliance.
“Steph is very reminiscent of Tim Duncan,” said Golden State coach Steve Kerr, who has won two championships as Duncan’s teammate. “Totally different players. But in terms of humanity, talent, humility, self-confidence, it’s a wonderful combination that forces everyone to win.”
Unlike Golden State, the influence of Duncan Spurs is more subtle, suited to a team not known for its brilliance. Several assistants to coach Greg Popovich have conveyed a team-oriented culture that has been seen in San Antonio by other teams as successful head coaches, including Memphis Taylor Jenkins, Boston Ime Udoka and Milwaukee Mike Budenholzer. Another former Spurs assistant, Mike Brown, has been Kerry’s assistant for the past six years. For San Antonio, sacrifice was paramount, whether it was sharing the ball with attack accuracy or ginobill being prepared to take on the role of spare chairs in his prime, which would likely cost him individual recognition.
Johnson’s Showtime Lakers got fast, creative basketball. The Bulls and Bryant Lakers popularized the Triangle attack, which was supported by their coach, Phil Jackson. O’Neill was so dominant that the league changed the rules because of him. (NBA changed the rules because of Jordan)
Still, Golden State may have changed the game more than any of them, as the 3-point shooting of the NBA Curry was at the forefront of the 3-point revolution, it became so common that players of all levels were trying to imitate it. The frustration of the coaches.
“When I go home to Milwaukee and watch my AAU team play and train, everyone wants to be Steph,” said Golden State Center’s Kevin Lonnie. “Everyone wants to shoot 3, and I say, ‘Man, you have to work a little harder to shoot like him.’ ”
The defining difference for Golden State is not just a door that has more than 3 points in his career than anyone in NBA history. The team also selected Green in the second round of the 2012 NBA Draft. In the previous era, he was presumed to be too low at 6 feet 6 to play forward and was not fast enough to be a defender. Now, teams are looking to find their own version of Green – a special passerby who can defend all five positions. And they often fail.
Dynasties also had coaches who were skilled in ego management, such as Jackson in Chicago and Los Angeles and Popovich in San Antonio.
Golden State has Kerry, who, by the way, is also a common denominator in three dynasties: he has won three championships, both with the Bulls and with two Spurs, and now he has four more as the head coach of the door.
Kerry is a rarity in the NBA today. He led Golden State for eight seasons, and coaches in the rest of the league have not worked that long. The Lakers just released Frank Vogel just two seasons later, which helped them win the championship. Tyrone Lou coached the Cavaliers for the championship in his first season in 2016, and left after a little over two seasons – despite having spent at least three consecutive years in the conference finals.
Since Golden State hired Kerry in 2014, all the other teams except the two have changed coaches: San Antonio, which still has Popovic, and Miami, which is led by Eric Spoelstra.
After a decade of moving players, Golden State has been able to rely on continuity to regain NBA King status, but that continuity is not the result of a fabulous connection between top-notch athletes who want to continue winning. Together. Not at all, at least.
Golden State has a structural advantage that many franchises today may or may not choose: owner Joe Lacob, who is willing to spend money on a team, including hundreds of millions of dollars in luxury taxes, to have the highest salary. In the NBA, this means that Golden State built the dynasty in part because its stars stayed together for pay and did not rely on management’s awkward decisions about who to retain.
The NBA payroll system is designed to prevent this from happening. David Stern, a former NBA commissioner, said ten years ago that in order to achieve equality, he wanted teams to “share players” rather than stars – hence the harsh fines for luxury taxpayers. Compare Golden State’s approach to that of the Oklahoma City Thunder, who replaced young James Harden in 2012 rather than pay him a lucrative contract extension. The Thunder could have had their own dynasty with Harden, Russell Westbrook and – the mainstay of two Golden State Championships – Kevin Durant.
And there is another factor that every dynasty needs: luck.
Golden State was able to sign Durant in 2016 due to a temporary salary increase. Winning a championship, or a few, requires good health, which is often beyond team control. Thompson missed two years in a row due to leg injuries, but did not fail this year after returning. Of course, Golden State has also seen disasters such as the injuries of Thompson and Durant in the 2019 finals, which could cost the team this series.
The NBA Heritage Cemetery is full of “almost” and “could have had”. Golden State simply has – Now for the fourth time. There may have been more mileage left for Door, Thompson and Greene, but as of Thursday night, their legacy was preserved. They do not follow other dynasties for legitimacy. Golden State is the one who is following him now.
“I do not like to number things and say, ‘Oh, man, we can get five or we can get six,'” Green said. “We will get them until the wheels fall off.”