This past NBA off-season, we have been shown what seems to be the formula for winning championships.
Star power, star power, and more star power.
By popular vote the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, and the Orlando Magic are the favorites to win the title. This leaves the Dallas Mavericks, Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Chicago Bulls as teams on the outside-looking-in.
Taking a step back, all those teams have a plethora of current or former All-Stars. Understandably, no star can win a championship on his own. Like Batman, NBA superstars need their "Robin." Kobe couldn't do it, Wade couldn't do it, and James realized this summer that he couldn't do it.
Over the decade, only five different teams have won the NBA's ultimate prize: The Lakers (2000-2002, 2009-2010), The Spurs (2003, 2005, 2007), the Heat (2006), the Celtics (2008), and the Pistons (2004).
Four of those five teams featured at least two legitimate mega stars, regardless of age.
Can you guess the sole exception?
In an era where teams believe that the only way to win is to amass all the stars, most GMs either look at the 2004 Detroit Pistons as something to idolize or a pariah to this new line of thinking.
Back in the early 2000s, Joe Dumars began constructing one of the most dominant teams of the decade. Joe Dumars brought together Chauncey Billups (a career journeyman at the time), Rip Hamilton (a second or third option at best at the time), Tayshaun Prince (an unproven young player), Ben Wallace (who had yet to hit his stride as a behemoth in the paint), and Rasheed Wallace (who had become a franchise cancer) as his core unit with Larry Brown at the helm.
Had it been the early 2000s, would you fear such a line-up? A line-up that consisted of a number of role players and journeymen? Yeah, didn't think so.
But that was the beauty of the 2004 Detroit Pistons. That solid core brought one championship, a back-to-back appearance in the NBA Finals, and 6 straight Eastern Conference playoff berths. Talk about consistency.
You may point out that the Pistons of the early decade featured four All-Stars. True. I won't argue with you there, but know that majority of them received those All-Star appearances after they had won their championship.
A group of role players had achieved so much... it's just remarkable.
While having a plethora of stars justifies your status as a title contender, it doesn't mean that you can't find similar success with a group of role players. All that is really needed is commitment from your players and the perfect system to run.
In today's NBA, it seems far-fetched to believe that a team of supporting players can pull-off winning the championship; especially with gargantuan teams such as LA, Boston, and Miami. Though that is the way it seems, it's not like it hasn't been done.
Just because it's rare, it doesn't make it impossible to find.
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