Top 10 Dynasties in NBA History

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.

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.

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.

8 Minneapolis Lakers: 1949-1954


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.

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.

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.

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.

3 San Antonio Spurs: 1998-Present

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

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.

2 Boston Celtics: 1957-1969

AP Photo/file

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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Top 10 Dynasties in NBA History