Untitled?

Thank God it’s over. What?! One more?!

Can’t we just, um, fade to black?

This is no longer about the Cavaliers ‘learning experiences’. They got here on a fluke and Anderson Varejao’s next ill advised shots will only be to keep Cleveland from being swept. If they learned anything, it’d be that things work out better when the ball goes in the basket. This isn’t even about the premature crowning of LeBron James. The King’s reign is on hiatus after an anti-climactic performance in these Finals and an unpromised encore. If he learned anything, it’d be that things work out better when he puts the ball in the basket.

For now, this is about one thing: *

Yeah, that thing again.

After the dust settled in the 80′s only two teams were left standing, Magic’s Lakers and Bird’s Celtics. Boston had certainly maintained it’s reputation as a perennial contender with five trips to the Finals and three victories, but L.A. was the team of the decade. Showtime made eight Finals appearances from ’80-’89, with five championships and the league’s first repeat in 19 years. They were a dynasty.

The Bad Boys back to back on the heels of this rivalry established Detroit as a great team, but they would merely serve as history’s prelude for the Bulls. Michael Jordan’s shadow loomed so large over the NBA from ’91-’98 that his absence cloaked Houston’s consecutive championships in doubt. He seperated himself from his predecessors with the league’s first threepeat in 27 years. Then he retired, came back, and did it again. Chicago witnessed a dynasty.

After the dust settled in the Staples Center only one man was left standing, Kobe Bryant. But before Star Wars went nuclear, Bryant, Shaq and Phil maintained a brief, but convincing rule over the league. Three straight titles is a dynasty. Right?

Then there’s the Spurs. And the lockout. And the fallout from Star Wars. And a Game 7 with Detroit. And no matter who you blame, there will always be this year’s suspensions heard ’round the world.

The San Antonio Spurs have proven themselves to be the leagues marquee franchise yet again, but is this a dynasty?

Discuss. And don’t forget to turn the lights off on the way out.

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25 Responses to “Untitled?”

  1. I’m a Laker fan, so I’m biased, but I have a hard time calling the Spurs a dynasty when they went 1-3 against the Lakers (with Phil), and were a Robert Horry “three” away from going 0-4. They are a very good team, but do they have that “signature” playoff win? Have they beaten a great team? Nominally they may be a dynasty, but they don’t give off a dynasty vibe.

  2. Diallo – I’m a Lakers guy too and definitely agree with you.

    Overall though, the third quarter of last night’s game may be the worst quarter of professional basketball I have ever watched.

  3. Just the third quarter? The 4th can’t get any love? lol

    The Spurs went scoreless for 5 minutes in the 4th, and the Cavs couldn’t take control of the game…on their homecourt?!? I try not to berate the NBA, but what we’re seeing is not basketball.

  4. Miranda Says:

    The Spurs cannot get the dynasty title just yet….sorry. This series just makes me sad. I doubt Game 4 gets more viewers than the National Spelling Bee finals.

  5. TheLastPoet Says:

    I’m away from the Apple on business, so I decided to watch the game at a local sports bar. Some observations:

    1. The bar was empty, and not every TV was tuned to the game. A pitcher for the Detroit Tigers was throwing a no-hitter, so most TVs in the place, and all the sound, was tuned to that. When the no-hitter was over, all TVs switched to the game, but it was me and less than 10 other people watching in a huge sports bar (restaurant, pool tables, poker tables, er’thang). Now there may be a number of reasons for this (Tues night, 9 PM start, Mike Breen is a doofus, etc), not the least of which is the fact that – the kingdom of Bron and the Cavs 1st Finals game be damned – no one outside of Santone seems interested in another Spurs chip, which is an inevitability at this point. So that’s strike one against any Spurs dynasty. Why? Cuz when it’s an actual dynasty taking shape, people care, and they wanna watch, no matter what.

    2. This is the sorriest, floppinest, ugliest professional basketball I’ve seen since…well since the last time the Spurs were in the Finals (and the time before that, and…). At one point I hollered at no one in particular, “got-dammit, the object of the game is to put the ball in the basket! ‘The fuck is goins on here?”

    Some cat at the bar hollered back, “the object is to keep the other team from scoring.”

    To which I replied, “no, homer, that’s hockey, where a score of 1-0 is perfectly acceptable. This here is basketball. The rim is 10 feet high, and its wide enough to fit 2 basketballs in it at the same time. But these teams can’t seem to score the ball. Why? Because of these two coaches’ overemphasis on defense. You wanna play D like one of Vick’s rabid dogs? Fine. But can you do it without fouling, hacking, and flopping – BOTH teams (but especially the Spurs) – on EVERY play? Its gotten to the point where a defender like Bowen will hack a guy, then flop onto his behind, and then throw his hands up and grimace at the ref while waiting for a call. This was formerly the exclusive terrain of offensive players, ie crying to refs about uncalled fouls, but now the “elite” (LOL) defenders are doing it. Sickening, and the Spurs are masters at it. Seriously, yall, the L’s coaches have got to tone down the D and allow some creativity and flow back into the game. I mean it. I can’t hardly stand to watch NBA hoops anymore, especially when the Spurs or their protege’s are playing. So that’s strike two against the dynasty. Why? Because those other dynastic teams you mentioned all played at least solid D (mostly when it was needed, like in a tight 4th quarter), but they had an aura, and they had creative compelling players. Talk all you want about how the Spurs play fundamental basketball, and how us haters better learn to appreciate it. Fuck that. The Spurs pound the ball to Timmy, they play pick and roll, drive and kick, or they let Tony Longoria go wild to the basket. Some of that may be fundamental, but it sure aint special, and it aint no different than a half dozen other teams in the L. The Spurs benefit from playing in the NBA’s flop and moan era, and they’ve managed to build a reputation of being both whiners AND thugs. Like DWade said to Sir Chuck, “now THAT’S impressive!”

    3. PD (and whoever else chimed in on this), I’ma give yall some credit. Tony Longoria is tougher than I thought. Is he AI without the cornrows and tats, and with a preference for white women (ok, ok so she’s half Latina or something, but c’mon)? Maybe, maybe not. But he is a tough lil french crepe, ok? Does he, plus Manu, Timmy, and a bunch of role players equal dynasty? I dunno, its subjective. If that’s your flavor, then savor it, I guess. But I can’t strike em out over it, either.

    4. On a side note, but not totally unrelated, I submit the following: I’ve seen DWade, he wears ugly sweaters and he is not in Sir Chuck’s fave five, nevertheless, King Bron is no DWade! Last year, down 2 games to none, back on your home court, but getting hammered in the 4th qtr, Wade rose to the occasion. Et tu, King? Alas, the King is dead! Look, yall, King came to play for exactly one game this ENTIRE season, and yall know the game I’m talking about cuz it was immediately overrated by ER’BODY. In the 4th qtr last night, the whole city of Cleveland was waiting for King to have his DWade moment. Take the ball to the rack! Draw the foul! Dunk on the whole Spurs team like you did Detroit! Do it! Do it now! Um, he couldn’t do it. Make up whatever excuse you wish, I’ll listen and probably agree with you. Then I will kindly point out that Wade already dun it, and got the chip to prove it. But there’s nothing about King’s game that’s as polished as Wade’s game. Not his handle, not his post up, not his poise, definitely not his heart, nothing. (And Wade’s not as polished as Bryant, but we’ve done that to death already.) In fact, I’ma let yall in on a lil secret re King Bron: the first 4 years of his NBA career are eerily similar to Penny Hardaway’s 1st 4, right down to the entertaining Nike commercials. King has endured even more hype than Penny, of course. But we have seen where all that hype got Penny, right? Yall marinate on that for a minute.

    So what does this 4th point have to do with the question of a Spurs dynasty? Its admittedly tangential, but this was s’posed to be King’s ascension to the dynastic throne, not the Spurs. Everyone said so, the east belongs to the Cavs from here on out, right? Well, Santone threw a wrench in the NBA hype machine, and soon will win their 4th chip. I can’t quite give em full credit as this is more of a negative outcome rather than a positive one (after all, the Cavs are HORRIBLE in so many ways). But I can’t quite strike them out of dynasty territory based on this outcome, either.

    So, with respect to any talk of dynasty, Santone sits precariously on a 2-2 count. As far as I’m concerned, it’ll take a few more pitches for us to see where they stand with respect to greatness. I mean, for all the reasons I’ve listed here, it aint like they’ve been throwing a no hitter since the 1st chip in 99!

    Sorry for the long post, PeaceI’mout.

  6. Your thoughts, however many of them there may be, are always welcome here LastP. That goes for Diallo (I heart The Commission…) and whoever else too. Not that theres much to say about this debacle…

    You both made the key point though, dynasties are overwhelmingly convincing, leaving no doubts about their reign. As LP noted, this makes them entertaining also. Not that it should be a primary factor, but the man has a point. If no one watches/cares, did it really happen? Since they’ve never even participated in two straight Finals, much less won them, is the pressure already on San An to do it again?

    If they manage to repeat next year, then I’ll be the first to proclaim this team as a dynasty. But wait, can you even have more than one dyansty per decade? If not, which would be the dynasty of the new millenium? LA or SA?

  7. Can’t mention the Robert Horry “three” and not mention the Fisher miracle. Made shots are part of it all, whether they are lucky, controversial, or whatever.
    As much as I hate to admit it, the Spurs are a dynasty. It’s just as impressive to win 4 over the course of many years than to win a few in a row. They have the skill, work ethic, mental toughness, professionalism, and attitude necessary to dominate over a sustained period of time. The Lakers couldn’t do that because ego got in the way. I think Shaq and Kobe squashing their beef after all these years is a realization by both of them that they could have cemented a Bulls-like dynasty.
    I can’t stand watching the Spurs play, and I wish they weren’t whiney little bitches, but that doesn’t hide the fact they are (soon to be) 4 times World Champs. As much as I was rooting for Phoenix, I never thought for a second that they would beat the Spurs. This has been the case for years now, with the exception of when Kobe & Shaq were together. Nobody ever picks them but they are always there at the end.
    I’m a Patriots fan, and as much as I hate to say it, I now realize that they are the Patriots of the NBA. They got no glitz and glamour, but they have all the intangibles necessary to sustain a dominant dynasty. And I don’t even think they’re done yet.

  8. Pats – At least Brady has a magnetic presence. He’s a legitimate superstar on and off the field. Can’t say the same about anyone on the Spurs.

    I don’t have an extreme dislike for the Spurs. They just happen to exist in the world. And that’s the problem.

    Max – Thanks for the love. Obviously the Spurs will have more titles than the Lakers at the end of the decade. If they end up with five, I guess I have to begrudgingly say they are dynasty-like:) But in terms of moving the needle, ratings and passion wise, they won’t compare to the Lakers. Or the Bulls, Celtics, or Pistons.

  9. It’s an interesting topic because in terms of titles these guys should be in the conversation. The problem is that they have none of the intangibles that a team in the midst of a Dynasty usually possess. There is no player to rally behind or vehemently dislike. I hated Isiah Thomas, Elway, and Larry Bird and loved Kobe, Shaq, Magic, Montana, etc. There is no aura or pizazz to this team. They are just too bland. When you say merely say the word Lakers, Yankees, Patriots, Cowboys, etc, there is an immediate positive or negative reaction. There is also usually some discussion of a player you like/dislike or some play that was fantastic or controversial. You say the Spurs and all you get is slightly raised shoulders and a “meh.” People simply don’t care about them.

    Diallo – my bad. You are absolutely right. The fourth quarter was equally bad.

    As a result, I am questioning Lebron a bit as well. The kid has game, no doubt about it. But I can’t help but think Kobe, Wade or even Steve Nash would have single handedly led their team to a win there. The Spurs played awful last night and basically put the game on a silver platter for the Cavs. The team just couldn’t seize the moment.

  10. Full disclosure (I’m a Lakers fan) and while I hesitate to call it a dynasty because there was no dominance or repeats, it is because of how stacked the West has been for years and the Spurs ability to be right at the top for so long. It’s really all about the best coach: Greg Popovich, and the Best big man: Tim Duncan, in combination automatically being a top 3 team in the league every year. Popovich coaches them up to play the best rotation defense i’ve ever seen (notice how they defend Lebron and his teammates compared tot he Pistons…who were once deemed a better defensive team). The reason they are not considered more is because their two top guys are Duncan and Popvich. There is no Magic, no Bird, no Jordan, no Kobe/Shaq…nothing magnetic about them. They are the most well-coached team, play the best and most intense defense, and always have Tim Duncan + some to give them just enough offense.

    The only thing that makes me hesitate to call them a dynasty is: Was there ever a dynasty where, somewhere in the middle of it, there was another team in the league that was MUCH BETTER than them. I mean, the Lakers weren’t grossly better than the Spurs, but they did three-peat right smack in the middle of this run, so that taints it a bit.

    And I’m glad everyone has calmed down on Lebron…the man has a very imperfect game. I think everyone realizes that game 5 was poor defensive coaching rather than Lebron. The Spurs pack the paint, collapse on him, then hustle on rotations, and he can do nothing. Lebron’s gotta develop a jumper thats at least as good as Wade’s (and he can’t shoot threes) before he can get into his company. Kobe would’ve made it rain from three with the wide open looks they were giving Mr. James.

  11. I did a piece on defining a dynasty over at my blog a few weeks ago and my definition is 3 out of 5 or half the titles in an amount of year beyond 5 (i.e. 4 in 8yrs, 5 in 10, 43 in at least 86yrs, etc.). The Spurs fall just short. This will be four in nine years.

    I also think it is difficult, who ever wins, to call a team a dynasty if they don’t have the best record in the league. MJ’s Bulls ran the East year in and year out. The Spurs finished (second or third?) in the West. Can you honestly say they are the best team when they didn’t have the best record? Or should you just say they were the smartest team to have won when it counts?

  12. padraig Says:

    My take on this is in line with Ap’s (and as far as disclosure my loyalties are split between the Bulls and the Warriors but TD has been my favorite player for the last decade, although now he’s tied with Stephen Jackson), namely that while at this point it’s debatable and dependant on your definiton of the term whether or not the Spurs as a franchise have a dynasty, it’s undeniable that the Duncan/Popovich combo (in that order of importance) has clearly established a dynasty of their own. Or whatever other word you want to use that means the same thing.

    The only two players who’ve REALLY mattered since Jordan retired are Shaq and TD and the different paths they’ve taken to the same number of rings (so far) reflect different interpretations, to my mind at least, of what a dynasty is. Shaq at his peak was possibly the most dominant (if not the best) force in the history of the NBA, but he was only able to sustain that for brief, furious stretch, hence the traditional 3-peat dynasty. TD has only had a season or two (02-03 comes to mind) where he came anywhere near to approaching that kind of dominance, but when you take the last decade in its’ entirety I think it’s very hard to argue that any other player has been more valuable for the duration. So maybe not a dynasty in the classic sense, but certainly something. I think a lot of the confusion stems from the unusual way that the Spurs have been on the cusp of greatness for a solid decade but they’ve never quite managed to cross the threshold.

    Frankly all the stuff about magnetism, superstars, charisma means absolutely nothing when discussing a team’s place in the pantheon of greatness. Myth-making, perhaps.

    Something else to consider is that the fantastic job the Spurs’ front office has done managing contracts has them in a position to get even better. Nate Jones wrote a great piece about it:

    sports.aol.com/fanhouse/2007/06/13/the-spurs-salary-cap-situation-sets-them-up-to-continue-their-do/

    The gist of it is that after next season SA will only have 4 players under contract-TD, Parker, Manu and Jackie Butler. That will leave them with plenty of cap space to go after a big FA (KG, JO, Arenas, etc.). Of course it’s very premature to speculate at this juncture but even the merest possiblity of KG and Duncan together boggles the mind. And as if that weren’t enough I think they also still own the rights to Luis Scola, the best big man in Euroleague. I don’t know if the Spurs are going to repeat next year but I am fairly sure that Duncan has 3-5 good years left and that barring major any trades that create a super-team he will probably win another 1-3 championships until his retirement segueways nicely into the blossoming of the LeBron (b/c you know that he will get better)/Durant/Oden era.

    Sidenote – I know this will rile up the Lakers’ fans, but what “great teams” did the Kobe/Shaq Lakers beat? The Adelman Kings or the Jailblazers? Certainly not any of their Finals opponents. I’m not denigrating the greatness of those title teams, just pointing out that that particular argument doesn’t really make sense.

  13. Padraig, I dont think it’s that the Lakers didnt beat any great teams, it’s that the Lakers undeniable talent made them competitive with practically any team in recent memory. They dominated.

    The Spurs are a great team, but I think of them as a team who took advantage of a power vaccum. Twice. Does anyone honor that ’99 chip anyway? And if they do, then why was a “championship team” absolutely owned by the Lakers afterwards? I hate to sound like a bitter fan since Im trying to take a neutral stance, but the Spurs never got past the Lakers, the Lakers just fell over. Their internal problems robbed the team of it’s focus and San An was the hungrier team for one year.

    And not to nitpick, but their victories over Detroit and NJ were by the narrowest of margins. Kenyon Martin’s poor shooting and Rasheed Wallace’s poor rotation to be exact. Doesn’t anyone remember how shook Duncan looked in those Finals against the Pistons? Oh, and before anyone brings up Lakers/Kings game 6, Sacramento had game 7 at home, and choked.

    The circumstances by which a team wins their titles are important, since some years are just plain bad and others are well, “tainted”. The Spurs only seem to come up big during those seasons.

    I need to see a repeat.

    One more thing, and I guess I am gonna sound like somewhat of a bitter fan here, but Im glad Bron made it to the Finals and got his ass whooped. Maybe it’ll teach him-actually I know it’ll teach him-a few things. Like the importance of home court advantage and not coasting through the regular season aside from the imporvemnts it should make in his game. This is the reason that he isnt even close to Kobe, much less Michael Jordan. As we all know, hes 22. How can a kid that young have learned more and actaully be better than an equally talented player with almost a decade’s more experience? May this forever prove the importance of taking your lumps.

    You have to get your ass whooped. Dirk’ll tell you, it’s important to have the inefficiencies in your game exposed, so that every summer you will work on them and come back with some thing new. It is the process that makes you better and eventually flawless and a champion. If he really wants to be chief, then Bron’ll get with the program. Cause there is absolutely no excuse for him not coming back with better D and a better midrange game next year.

  14. To all-
    I might start something writing this (is that new?)…..

    THERE ARE NO MORE TRADITIONAL DYNASTIES.

    Not yelling – an announcement.

    There have been no dynasties since the 80s Lakes and Cees. Dynasties have to win and win and win. Plus they have to have at least three HOFers on their team. Now, if you throw coaches into HOFers, you can add MJ’s Bulls to the list….

    IMHO, if Tiny Parker plays the rest of his prime years career like he did these playoffs – and really the last year-and-a-half – then he’s an HOFer, which would makes the Spurs with TD and Pop able to be talked about as a dynasty – but probably in retrospect.

    Finally, this era of ball, with all its tremendous athletes, is presently horrid. Ninety percent of the talent lacks fundamentals and too much of the 10% of the talent that does is on crappy teams. So, unless the Spurs repeat next season, it will be hard to put them in the dynasty discussion….

    Good to see you back, max….

  15. Thanks, D.

    I pretty much agree.

    Except you don’t need P Jax for the Bulls to qualify under your definition of a dynasty. Dennis Rodman is most definitely a HOF’er.

  16. max-
    ahhh yes, Rod-man. But then what about pre-Rod-man Bulls?

  17. [...] Besides maxairington’s Soprano’s reference, the other astute view of Game 3 and the series overall goes to Ryan McNeill over at Hoops Addict. [...]

  18. Touche. I guess that’s when you’d need Phil, but Jordan almost counted for two in those days anyway…

  19. max/dwil: That was kinda my point as well. Like, the Spurs have stepped outside the “dynasty” framework and are just doing their own thing. And that’s why I think Duncan and, to a lesser extent, Pop have basically created one of the two new models that everyone is scrambling to replicate

    The main argument against the Spurs seems to be that ‘dynasties’ can impose their will onto the league no matter what while SA has at times been at the mercy of forces beyond their control.

    Everyone wants to toss all manner of qualifiers and caveats onto the Spurs titles but at what point do you have to just give them credit for winning 4 NBA championships? TD has as many rings as Shaq and by the time he retires he’ll almost certainly have more. I could also retrospectively dissect nearly any championship team of the last 30 years and find a reason or three why their title was somehow flawed. Whether or not they got past the Lakers or Kobe/Shaq just collapsed under their own weight is debatable, but it’s a moot point; TD outlasted them. I guess it boils down to whether you want to give more credit to a short period of focused dominance or a quieter, more consistant brilliance diffused across an entire career.
    The Spurs version of a dynasty has been maintaining themselves as a viable championship threat, if rarely the clear favorite, at the beginning of every season for such a long time. If ‘dynasty’ is not the word for that, fine, but it requires another term (what I don’t know) to describe it, because it’s a different form of excellence that is just as difficult in its’ own way. Whatever one thinks, if Shaq/TD combining for 8 of the last 9 titles doesn’t convince people of Oden over Durant then I don’t know what does.

    Also, cosign 1000% on Rodman as an HOF’er. There’s no way that the greatest lb for lb, inch for inch rebounder of all time (even though I hate to definitively compare players across eras, Russell at 6’9″ was operating in a league where very few dudes could even match his height whereas Rodman’s 6’8″ made him an undersized PF when he played) can be turned away. good lord, he led the league in rebounding for 7 straight yrs while monsters like Hakeem and Young Shaq were terrorizing everyone.

    What, Dwil, no love for BJ Armstrong or Luc Longley? ;)

  20. Padraig, I agree that the Spurs are a great team. And that’s the problem really, that we use such words so loosely. Every year some team has to win, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s a great team every year. To me, great teams play distinctively superior basketball, in a strong league, over an extended period. In the Wild West the Spurs are not only a great team but a great franchise, top to bottom, which is why they’re still standing and LA is in flux. Very true. I respect ‘em, and with a repeat they’d be considered a dynasty as Jordi noted. But until then, the Spurs just another ‘great’ team.

    And Rodman’s ability to effectively guard men twice his size and stay on the boards is why I’d put my money on the second three-peat Bulls against anyone. He was a beast.

  21. max: we’re on the same page. I’m fine holding off on an official “dynasty” until a repeat (which doesn’t seem that unlikely, as who’s going to challenge them next year besides the Suns?). “Great” team is an entirely fair judgement; I do think, though, that TD will wind up having the better overall career than Shaq despite the disparity in talent.

    as concerns Rodman, that’s why it bugs me when people try to invalidate the 2nd Bulls run by saying they just lucked into a period with no dominant bigs. I’m having vivid flashbacks of him pestering the hell out of Young Shaq in the ’96 ECFs. I still don’t know how David Robinson failed to win a title with Rodman.

  22. There are definitely some retards in this room. I’m sorry, but 4 titles in a nine year span, under the same regime (head coach, star player, etc.) is a f-in dynasty. And yes, I’m a Laker fan too. But damn, the Spurs have been doing it, and doing it well. Honestly the only difference I see between Duncan’s run and Bird’s is that Bird had Magic coming form the other conference. But the East back then was loaded, and Bird proved to be the big cannon that consistently got his team through the fray. Same goes for Duncan and the current West. Spurs just get lucky that all those Eastern guys who won as players in the 80′s are now running the conference into the ground as execs (Bird incuded).

  23. TheLastPoet Says:

    Diggi,

    How many times do I have to say it to commenters hiding behind insults and a laptop? Clearly I’m the wrong person to be delivering this message, although I’d like the record to reflect that I have never bombed first, I only strike back with the fierceness.

    So kindly say your words withour resorting to name-calling (“retards?”), or I shall be forced to smite you, like so many others.

  24. Holster your weapon soldier! It’s only a misdemeanor ;)

  25. Insults and a laptop?

    What it’s called is game-tight content. I notice you didn’t even try to put up an effective argument against any one of the points I brought up, Mr. “Strike Back With A Fierceness.”

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