The NBA: Where Dynasties Will Never Again Happen

Red Shannon@@rojosportsFeatured ColumnistJune 17, 2009

QINHUANGDAO, CHINA - JULY 09:  Tourists visit Laolongtou, or Old Dragon's Head, section of the Great Wall on July 9, 2009 in Qinhuangdao, Hebei Province of China. Old Dragon's Head is the eastern starting point of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) Great Wall. It extends about 20 meters (66 feet) into the Bohai Sea like a dragon drinking water, hence its name. Qinhuangdao will hold the Football Preliminary event during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.  (Photo by Andrew Wong/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Lakers just won their 15th NBA championship in franchise history.

With the win, Laker coach Phil Jackson passed the legendary Red Auerbach as all-time NBA coach, with 10 championship titles.

Kobe Bryant is flaunting his fourth NBA championship ring. Impressive.

Such lofty achievements inevitably lead to talk of impending dynasties. But dynasties in the NBA have gone the way of analog TV, the dodo bird, and the mighty Ming—and there are several reasons why.

It might be helpful to first define the term "dynasty" as it relates to basketball. To honor the great NBA dynasties of the past, a worthy definition should include a string of at least three consecutive titles.

Using that standard, only four dynasties have reigned in the history of the NBA: the Minneapolis Lakers, the Boston Celtics, the Chicago Bulls, and the post-2000 Lakers.

Although they were not able to string three championships together, the Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s could arguably be included in the "dynasty club" based primarily on their dominance of that decade. They won five titles and appeared in the finals eight times between 1980 and 1989.

San Antonio provided the last great attempt at a dynasty, winning four crowns from 1999 through 2007. Too many "non-finals" years in the interim disqualifies the Spurs from the club.

Here is the breakdown of each team's dynasty years:

Minneapolis Lakers—1949, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1954

Boston Celtics—1957, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969

LA Lakers—1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988

Chicago Bulls—1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998

San Antonio Spurs—1999, 2003, 2005, 2007

LA Lakers—2000, 2001, 2002

The last "great" dynasty was that of the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s. That reign was ruled by two of the game's all-time greats: Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson.

These days, due in part to manipulation from the commissioner's office, the league is much more balanced and hopes of ever seeing another great dynasty are but a vapor.

Here are some reasons why:

Suitcase Mentality

Dynasties take years of relationship, chemistry, and loyalty to develop.

For whatever reason, today's players are generally less loyal and more prone to sell their services to the highest bidder. Gone are the days when players actually planned to settle in a city and give their entire careers to a single locale.

And it's not entirely the player's fault. It's just the nature of the game's fluidity in these times. General managers, who love to tinker, keep the non-core players always looking over their shoulder.

The rule of the day: Keep your bags packed. 

Shorter Careers

Dynasties always have at least one grizzled vet known affectionately as "Pops."

Back in the day, when a workman was worthy of his wages, it was not unusual for a player to put in 20 years. It was almost a necessity, in order to stockpile a comfortable retirement. Never mind that after 20 years of pounding up and down the court, the sunset years often meant a permanent limp and a couple missing teeth.

Today's players could retire on a year's pay. The love of the game keeps them going for another 10 years. Then, it's either greed or pain which compels them to stay in the game or leave.

Microwave Society

Dynasties are the result of long-range thinking.

Too many clubs these days are looking for instant gratification. They want success right now, by God, and will do whatever it takes to get that ring.

In some cases, as in "Trader" Bob Whitsett's turn-of-the-century Portland Trail Blazers, it becomes a self-inflicted fragging. In other cases, as in last year's Boston Celtics, it works out...once. This year, they watched the playoffs from their armchairs after the second round.

Over-Stimulated Populace

Dynasties must be maintained.

In today's super hi-tech, virtual world, our natural stimulus thresholds have become desensitized. What once was ecstatic has become mundane. We seek a bigger thrill.

Once a championship is achieved, will it lose its savor after two...or three more? That's a question which never needed to be asked a few short years ago.

As players and fans, the signs and times demand that we now ask it.

Political Correctness

A dynasty's life force is in its winning attitude.

When we begin to see our children's teams refrain from keeping score for fear that one team will inevitably feel like "losers," can that thinking be far from the higher levels of competition?

In today's game, if an NBA team happens to approach dynasty level, the cry will surely emanate from somewhere in the cellar that "it's not fair." Even more mechanisms will be put in place to handcuff the strong and fortify the weak.

The very essence of sport has always been the survival of the fittest.

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As a Portland Trail Blazer fan, I am aware of the urge to project a few years down the road, join my fellow fans, and proclaim "Dynasty!" 

Portland is a young team, with a solid core, who over-achieved this year in establishing a 54-28 record—and a playoff spot to boot! The team has a tremendous upside.

Management has had the patience to mold the team literally from the ground up. If ever a team was built with dynasty in mind, it would be my Blazers.

Anything less than an eventual championship or two would be unacceptable. I think they're capable of more.

By my criteria, the San Antonio Spurs fell just short of dynasty status. Do you think any Spurs fan is bemoaning that fact as he gazes at the four championship banners up in the rafters? I think not.

Dynasty in the NBA is dead.

Let it go.


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