San Antonio Spurs: The Only Underrated Dynasty in NBA History

Tim DohertyAnalyst IMay 20, 2012

The '50s and '60s Boston Celtics. The '80s Los Angeles Lakers. The '90s Bulls.

When discussing NBA dynasties, these, along with the early 2000s Lakers and probably the early-to-mid-'80s Celtics, are the teams that come to mind.

All those teams won at least three NBA titles in a condensed period of time. They also had great players who will go down as all-time greats for their production and ability to raise their level of play when it mattered most.

There’s one team that is missing from the list.

A team that has never received the respect it deserves. A team that has the NBA’s best record this season, has yet to lose a game in the postseason and is still not considered the favorite to win it all.

That team is the San Antonio Spurs.

The Spurs won a remarkable four championships in the eight-year period between 1999 and 2007. Despite this, the Shaq-and-Kobe Lakers that collected three rings are universally recognized as the premier team of that era.

I’ll give you that the Kobe and Shaq separated after 2004 and could have won more championships if they had stayed together longer.

However, there has to be something said for a team that can avoid dysfunction and collectively throw away their egos for the good of everyone.

The Lakers fell apart because Shaq and Kobe couldn’t handle not being the stand-alone alpha dog. They each wanted to get all the credit for the team’s success.

The Spurs have been able to maintain a high level of play for such a long time because of their unselfishness and team-first style of play. Unfortunately, that’s not what sells.

To be remembered as a great dynasty, a team can’t just win, they have to win with style and pizzazz.  

The Bill Russell-led Celtics of the '50s and '60s weren’t extremely flashy, and like the Spurs were filled with team-oriented players, but their 11 championships in 13 years is such an extraordinary and unparalleled number that there is no denying their place as the NBA’s greatest dynasty.

In the '80s, there were the Showtime Lakers and Bird’s Celtics. The Lakers, known for their fast breaks and fan-friendly style of play, were led by Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Both are considered to be amongst the top five players in league history, and had distinctive qualities—like Kareem’s goggles and sky hook and Magic’s charisma and flashy passes—that will make them and the Lakers dynasty be remembered forever.

The '80s Celtics were led by the big three of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish. Bird was the best passing forward of all time and a player known for his blue-collar attitude and work ethic. The Celtics' only goal was to win, and they were beloved for their unselfishness and ability to play the game the right way.

The rivalry the Celtics and Lakers shared was so intense and cutthroat, and both teams had so many great players, that there is no way these teams can fall through the cracks of time.

The Bulls of the '90s will obviously be remembered as one of the league’s best dynasties because of Michael Jordan. His killer instinct and ability to raise his level of play in the most crucial moments made him the ultimate competitor.

Jordan produced uncanny scoring numbers while also putting together some of the most memorable postseason performances in league history. Jordan didn’t just want to win, he wanted to decapitate his opponent, and that’s what made him and the Bulls so unforgettable.

The 2000s Lakers are remembered as a great dynasty because of the greatness of their two best players. Shaq was arguably the most dominant player in NBA history. He was an unstoppable force because of his combination of size, strength and athleticism.

Kobe, although young at the time, was still an extraordinary player. He could score with the best of them, and was and still is as fierce a competitor as any. The drama the two brought in their later years together, along with Shaq’s charisma and fun-loving attitude, made the team memorable in its own right.

The Spurs' star player for the last decade-and-a-half has been Tim Duncan. He’s recognized as the best power forward of all time and a top-10 player in NBA history, but keeps to himself and shows little emotion on or off the court except when he is arguing with officials.

The team gets little respect when compared to other dynasties because they lack a certain "it" factor that the others possess.

The current Celtics team is always talked about for their championship pedigree and how they know how to win. The media makes it seem like they’ve won multiple championships together despite the fact that they’ve won a single title in the Garnett, Pierce and Allen era.

When people talk about the Spurs, the first thing that comes up is how old they are. Rarely is their past championship success mentioned. They are usually just pushed to the side as a team past its prime that can't hold up long enough to make a deep playoff run.

The Spurs don’t have a charismatic star or any unique quality that sets them apart. Their success has put them on the same level as other NBA dynasties, but their lack of flair has failed to make them memorable.


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