BOSTON – NBA dynasties share certain commonalities that help them change the scales from leading championship teams to those remembered for decades.
Among them: In each position there is a generation player fighting for Mount Rushmore.
In the 1980s, Larry Bird’s Boston Celtics team competed with Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s Los Angeles Lakers. Michael Jordan’s Bulls led the 90s, then the flashing torch – winning championships here and there, but never twice in a row – passed to Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs.
Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant sneaked into the Lakers’ three turfs in the early 2000s.
And then there was … none. There were other players of all time – LeBron James, of course. James’s Heat approached the top of the championships in 2012 and 2013, but soon collapsed.
Dynasties demand more than that.
Patience. Money. Owners who want to spend. And above all, the ability to “break” basketball and change the way the game is played or perceived appears. That’s why there were no new dynasties until Golden State and Stephen Curry merged.
Curry, who wore a white NBA championship baseball cap, knocked on the table with both hands on Thursday night in response to the first question of the night.
“We have four championships,” Curry said, adding: “It’s definitely different.”
Curry repeated the phrase “different strokes” four times during the media session – perhaps accordingly. Curry, Clay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala won the NBA title together for the fourth time in eight years.
“It’s amazing because we’re not the same,” Green said. “Usually when you are the same, you collide with people. The only thing that is stable for us is to win. That is the goal. “
Golden State, like Duncan’s Spurs, won with ruthless, methodical effectiveness. San Antonio won five championships between 1999 and 2014. Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker were All-Stars, although Duncan was in his own league. Their championships were widespread – Parker and Ginobili weren’t in the NBA for the first time – but they posed a constant threat due to their disciplined excellence.
“Stef reminds me a lot of Tim Duncan,” said Golden State coach Steve Kerr, who won two championships as Duncan’s teammate. “Completely different players. But from the point of view of humanity, from the point of view of talent, humility, trust, this beautiful combination makes everyone want to win for him.
Unlike Golden State, the impact of Duncan’s Spurs is more subtle, making it suitable for a team not known for its flash. Several assistants to coach Greg Popovich have passed on the team-oriented culture they saw in San Antonio to other teams as successful coaches, including Taylor Jenkins of Memphis, Ime Udoka of Boston and Mike Budenholzer of Milwaukee. Another former Spurs assistant, Mike Brown, has been Kerry’s assistant for the past six years. For San Antonio, the sacrifice was more important than anything, whether it was the accuracy of the ball in the attack or the willingness of Ginobili to accept the bench when it came at the cost of his own individual praise.
Johnson’s Showtime Lakers adopted a fast-paced, creative basketball. The Bulls and Bryant’s Lakers popularized the triangular attack, which was approved by coach Phil Jackson. O’Neal was so dominant that the league rules changed. (The NBA also changed the rules for Jordan.)
However, the Golden State game may have changed the most, as it was so prevalent in Curry’s 3-point fight, ahead of the 3-point revolution in the NBA, that players at all levels are trying to be like him. too much to disappoint coaches.
“When I come home to Milwaukee and watch my AAU team play and train, everyone wants to be Steph,” Golden State Center Kevon Looney said. “Everyone wants to shoot three, and I say, ‘Man, you have to work a little harder to shoot like him.’ ”
The main difference for Golden State isn’t just Curry, who has a career of 3 points more than anyone in NBA history. The team also selected Green in the second round of the 2012 NBA Draft. In the past, he was probably considered too short to play forward at 6 feet-6 and was not fast enough to be a defender. Teams are now searching to find their version of Green – an exceptional transmitter that can defend all five positions. And they often fail.
The dynasties also had skilled coaches in managing egos such as Jackson in Chicago and Los Angeles and Popovich in San Antonio.
There’s Kerr in the Golden State, a common denominator in three dynasties: He won three championships as a player with the Bulls, two with the Spurs, and now has four more championships as Curry’s head coach.
Kerr is rare in the NBA today. He has led Golden State for eight seasons, and the rest of the league is short-lived. The Lakers recently sacked Frank Vogel just two seasons after helping him win the championship. In his first season as head coach, Tyronn Lue coached the Cavaliers to the championship in 2016 and left shortly after two seasons – despite reaching the conference finals for at least three consecutive years.
After the Golden State hired Kerry in 2014, all but two teams changed coaches: San Antonio, where Popovich was, and Miami, where Eric Spoelstra was.
In the decade of widespread player movement, the Golden State has relied on perseverance to restore its status as the king of the NBA, but that perseverance is not the result of a fairy-tale bond between high-level athletes who want to win together. . Absolutely not, anyway.
Golden State has a structural advantage that many franchises today may or may not have: a owner who is willing to spend a lot of money on the team, including hundreds of millions of dollars in luxury taxes, to get the highest salary in Co Lacob . The NBA This means that the Golden State has formed a dynasty in part because they are paid to stay together rather than relying on the management’s tough decisions to keep it as its best stars.
The CBA’s salary cap system is designed to prevent this. Former NBA commissioner David Stern said a decade ago that in order to achieve parity, he wants teams to “share in the players” rather than collect stars – hence the harsh luxury tax penalties for Lacob. Compare Golden State’s approach to the Oklahoma City Thunder, who traded young James Harden in 2012 instead of paying for an expensive contract extension. Thunder Harden could have had his own dynasty with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, a key figure in two Golden State championships.
And there is another factor that every dynasty needs: chance.
Golden State was able to sign Durant in 2016 due to a temporary salary increase. Winning a championship or several times requires good health, which is often beyond the control of the team. Thompson missed exactly two years due to a foot injury, but has not had any setbacks since returning. Of course, the Golden State also saw some unfortunate chances in the 2019 finals, such as the injury of Thompson and Durant, which could cost the team this series.
The NBA’s legacy graveyard is full of “almost” and “may”. Golden State simply var – now for the fourth time. Curry, Thompson and Green could have more escapes left, but their legacy was safe on Thursday night. They do not persecute other dynasties for legitimacy. The Golden State is now being pursued.
“I don’t like to put numbers on things and say, ‘Oh, man, we can get five or six,'” Green said. “We’ll get them until the tires fall.”