Subsequent to becoming NBA champions for the fifth time in 15 years, where is the San Antonio Spurs' place among the top dynasties that we know of in NBA history? What does it take to start an NBA dynasty anyway? Are all teams cut out for this arduous journey to fame? If a team has had success in acquiring consecutive NBA titles, the team could be defined as a dynasty, but that definition would be a little narrow, don’t you think? The Miami Heat would fall into such a category, but so would the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs. To be fair to other teams, criteria for top dynasties in the NBA would involve three straight NBA titles and four appearances in the NBA finals with the same roster.
Additionally, there should be not many game losses during the road to the finals. During the Chicago Bulls' reign with Michael Jordan, he had a few good supporting cast members; Scottie Pippen, John Paxon, Steve Kerr and Tony Kukoc. However, not all of them were together for the entire seven years of the six titles won. Jordan left for a whole season and most of a second season to retire, but then he came back to the NBA. To fit into the dynasty then, those missing years could not be counted. Instead, like other teams mentioned here, there are certain distinct factors that were considered, namely how long the team reigned as superstars, their average wins during their reign and how many times they went to the finals and won championships. To label a dynasty team, league size and mobility of players was also taken into consideration. Here are the dynasties listed in order of greatness according to the criteria outlined.
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10 New York Knicks: 1969-1973
This string of New York Knicks teams were the only ones in franchise history to win an NBA championship, winning two (1970 and 1973)
With legendary players like Phil Jackson, Jerry Lucas, Walt Frazier and Bill Bradley, the Knicks pulled off quite a run, making it to three NBA finals in four seasons. They defeated the Lakers in seven games in 1970, before returning to back-to-back finals in 1972 and 1973. The Lakers avenged their 1970 loss to New York with a five-game series win, but the Knicks won the rubber series in 1973, winning in five games themselves.
Two championships in four seasons? New York fans would sure take that today, wouldn't they?
9 Detroit Pistons: 1986-1992
Although, the Detroit Pistons with Bill Laimbeer, Joe Dumars, Dennis Rodman and Isaiah Thomas accounted for only two NBA titles between 1986 and 1992, they had the most guts and attitude. They established a legacy as the Bad Boys of the NBA and the mark they left behind lands them a spot on this list.
The team went to the Eastern Conference Finals five straight times during their era. They brought a physical style of basketball to the heels of their opponents, often causing game disruptions. But the media and fans couldn’t get enough of them. If you were an opponent of the Pistons, you would have a hard time every game. Most opponents were left bruised and battered from obvious enforcers like Dennis Rodman and Bill Laimbeer. The physical play coupled with amazing backcourt support from Joe Dumars and Isaiah Thomas helped to build the Pistons Empire. Whether they were loved or hated, everyone knew who they were.
8 Minneapolis Lakers: 1949-1954
Back when the Lakers name actually went with the city. We have to go all the way back to Minneapolis's first championship in 1948-49 when they won the BAA (Basketball Association of America) championship over the Washington Capitols. Following the merger with the NBL to form the NBA, the Lakers then won the 1950, 1952, 1953 and 1954 NBA championships. They quickly established themselves as the first powerhouses in the NBA. They'd add another finals appearance in 1959, losing to the Celtics. They would move to Los Angeles in 1960.
7 Los Angeles Lakers: 1979-1991
Talk about flashy players. Names like James Worthy, Earvin Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar come up. These players were what ‘Showtime’ was all about in 1979-1991. During the 1980s, the Los Angeles Lakers ruled the NBA climate, or at least co-owned it with the Boston Celtics. It began when Magic Johnson was drafted in 1979. He helped to ignite his team with ostentatious fast breaks, breathtaking ball passes and a high level of shooting from Kareem and defense from James Worthy.
The team won five NBA titles between 1980 and 1988. In total, they had nine appearances in the finals in this period. Many experts think that no other team has shown this noticeable skill to run the floor and score with such simplicity as the Lakers team did with Magic Johnson steering everything.
6 Miami Heat: 2010-2014
Who can deny that the Miami Heat’s Big Three with Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh were a force to be reckoned with? Together, the team won two NBA titles and there is no question that had they stayed together, they would compete heavily for another title. And another. And another. At least that's what they told us.
Even though the team with this trio only won two titles, they made it to the NBA finals on four consecutive occasions. They had 27 consecutive wins from February to March of 2013. This team barely made this list with the criteria set forth, but with so much heart and determination to fight the odds as the ‘most hated team,’ and still come out on top, they deserve to be on this list. To do that in today's NBA also factors in as to why they're on the list.
5 Los Angeles Lakers: 1999-2002
When you think about Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and the Los Angeles Lakers, you think about what a travesty it is that they couldn’t act like grownups and win more NBA titles. The pair was a dynamic duo, if only they could have gotten along. They dominated the NBA for five years, repeating for three NBA titles between 1999-00 to 2001-02. In the regular season, they were able to win 181 times, which results in 12 games more than any other team won. They had a similar postseason record (45-13) as Michael Jordan did with the Chicago Bulls during their first and second NBA titles. They outscored their challengers by 330 points.
With such a high level of play, you would think that they'd want to keep the ride going, but O’Neal and Bryant started to squabble like two school kids. Subsequently, the team started to struggle when the 2002-03 season came around. O’Neal was traded the following summer while Bryant went through a sexual assault case. Despite all of this, the Lakers did make it to the finals, but were ousted by the Detroit Pistons after five games. They could have been one of the greatest dynasties in the history of the NBA.
4 Boston Celtics: 1981-1987
Prior to the ‘Big Three’ on the recent Miami Heat teams and Boston Celtics’ Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen; there was an original ‘Big Three’ on the Boston Celtics team with Kevin McHale, Larry Bird and Robert Parish who are presently all part of the NBA Hall of Fame. During their era, Boston was a dominant team in the NBA. The Boston Celtics of 1986 were able to win 67 games and as a result, many considered them to be the ultimate single season team in NBA history. In 1986, the team held a record of 40-1 on their home court and in 1987, 39-2. Those are the two best records for a home team in NBA history.
These players were consistent, determined and focused on winning. Unlike the Detroit Pistons' physical play during that time, the Boston Celtics had a finesse style of play. As a result, there was a lot of unsportsmanlike conduct during games played with the Pistons. They also developed a rivalry with the Lakers and their fast break showmanship. The Lakers ended up with two more titles, but the Celtics still managed to stake their claim in NBA history.
3 San Antonio Spurs: 1998-Present
Tim Duncan and Tony Parker are arguable two of the best players ever. The team has not won consecutive titles, but they deserve to be on this list because of their long reign as contenders. With Tim Duncan on the roster, the team has been able to win more than 1,000 games, which amounts to more than 100 of any other team. They have outscored opponents by more than 9,000 points. They have won more than 50 games and five NBA championships. More impressively, the Spurs have been able to seamlessly change their style of play and roster over time, making it hard for opponents to study them.
For most of their reign, the team has been known as a defensive team first and foremost, dominating the front court. However, also known for their hand-checking, which was eliminated in 2004 by the league, the team changed their play and did more passing, perimeter shooting and offense. Compared to the Spurs during 1998-99 season, the Spurs during the 2013-14 season were completely different in their style of play, but yet both of these teams won NBA titles. With Tim Duncan still a part of this dynasty, who knows – maybe the team will go for another ring soon.
2 Boston Celtics: 1957-1969
The Boston Celtics dominated the league during the 1957-1969 period. Bill Russell, KC Jones, John Havlicek, Frank Ramsey, Sam Jones, Tommy Heinsohn and Bob Cousy were an integral part of the team’s success. The NBA league went through a drastic change when Bill Russell was traded to the Boston Celtics. He was a superior defensive player, one that the game had never seen before. With his talent, the supporting cast had an easier time to contribute. No one imagined that there would be another dynasty quite like this one.
1 Chicago Bulls: 1990-1998
No one can deny that Michael Jordan, John Paxton and Scottie Pippen were the three players that exemplified dynasty. With their impressive play night in and night out, the three and their supporting cast members became an entertainment spectacle to the NBA and sports television. Even though, Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics had more titles, the Chicago Bulls take first place. Why? Well, remember that during Russell’s tenure, the NBA league was much smaller with less competition. This means that it was easier for Russell to rack up titles. The quality of the league during Jordan’s time was vastly superior.
Jordan played in a more publicized league while the Celtics played in a less publicized league. In those times, Bill Russell and the Celtics didn’t have to worry about free agency and moving to another team. That means the worst team had to either remain the worst or try to do better while the best teams continued to dominate. During Bill Russell’s time, the playoffs did not involve so many teams. It was a shorter run, possibly going through two or three teams to win an NBA title. The Chicago Bulls had to go through four teams to win the title. Despite all of these challenges, the Chicago Bulls still dominated the league more than the Celtics did with Bill Russell. It was three times as hard for the Bulls to win a title as the Celtics. So the Bulls take the no.1 spot.
Who knows what would've happened if Michael Jordan had never retired after the 1993 season, or after the 1998 season? We might've seen a near clean sweep of the 1990's for Chicago.
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