Ranking the Most Dominant Dynasties in NBA History

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Ranking the Most Dominant Dynasties in NBA History
Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

Where do the freshly crowned San Antonio Spurs place among the great dynasties in NBA history after winning their fifth title in 15 years?

What constitutes a dynasty in the NBA? There are different ways people might approach such a topic. Some would define it by consecutive championships, but I feel that’s too narrow a definition. By that thinking, the current rendition of the Miami Heat is a greater dynasty than the Spurs, and I can’t justify that argument.

I defined a dynasty as any team with either two or three consecutive championships and at least four NBA Finals appearances with the same essential roster. Furthermore, there could be no losing seasons in the span.

While I was rigid with the first criteria, I was more flexible with the latter. For example, Bill Russell’s teammates completely changed while he was there, but it was a slow transition, spanning a number of years. I still counted the team as one dynasty. The same goes with Tim Duncan and the Spurs.

On the other hand, Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls were mainly defined by three people: Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Phil Jackson, the head coach.

They were together for seven complete years and won titles the last six of them. Jordan, the most critical cog, was “retired” for one full season and most of a second. Since the Jordan Bulls kind of need Jordan to be the Jordan Bulls, I didn’t count those two years.

In essence, if there was ever any roster question as to what to include, I erred on the side of favoring said dynasty.

In ranking the teams, I considered several objective factors: the number of championships, Finals appearances, the span of their reign as an elite team and average wins over that span. With average wins, for the sake of even comparison, I prorated every season to 82 games. (Using total winning percentage would make seasons with fewer games statistically less significant).

Also, maintaining a dynasty now is much more difficult than it once was. Therefore other criteria, such as league size and player mobility, were also considered.

The dynasties are listed here, in order of greatness, based on the outlined criteria. The names are those conventionally associated with the team. The range includes the span from their first appearance to the last, denoted by the years listed after the team name.

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