Hold off on the 'D' word
Spurs' achievement impressive, but this is no dynasty
Posted: Friday June 15, 2007 12:17PM; Updated: Friday June 15, 2007 2:28PM
CLEVELAND -- All right, let's get all the reasons we would not consider the San Antonio Spurs one of history's most successful franchises out of the way immediately.
They never had to win a championship against Michael Jordan, a notorious spoiler of the Clyde Drexler Trail Blazers, the Charles Barkley Suns, the Gary Payton SuperSonics and the John Stockton-Karl Malone Jazz.
They play in a league diluted by expansion.
Their first title, in 1999, occurred in a lockout-shortened season.
Their most recent championship came against what was surely one of the worst Finals teams ever, LeBron James' individual brilliance notwithstanding.
OK, that said, San Antonio's fourth title in nine years, completed Thursday night at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, is a monumental accomplishment that should give the Spurs a permanent place in sports history.
Let's just not bring up the "D" word. The Spurs are not a dynasty. They haven't suggested that about themselves. To me, a dynasty means this: A team must win more than half the championships over a decade and be considered the clear favorite in most of those seasons. A decade is a random measure, of course, but dynasty-dom has to be demonstrated over an extended period of time; the Mings, after all, lasted from 1368 to 1644. (Not the Yao Mings.)
In my view, only two franchises truly qualify as a dynasty -- the Boston Celtics, who, absurdly, won 11 championships in 13 seasons from 1957 to 1969 during the Bill Russell days, and Jordan's Chicago Bulls, who won six titles in eight years (the franchise's only championships) from '91 to '98.
Overall, the Celtics have won 16 titles (though a contemporary cynic would have to note that not a single one has come since '86). That career record is challenged only by the Lakers, who have 14 championships, five of them when the team was in Minneapolis, which was the dominant franchise in the NBA's first decade. But the Lakers have never had a true dynasty. They won five titles from '80 to '88, a tremendous achievement to be sure, but they clearly shared the decade with the Celtics, who won three titles in seven seasons. And they would've needed a couple more with the Shaquille O'Neal-Kobe Bryant combo to meet the dynasty standard in the early years of this century.
Which brings us to the Spurs. Four titles in nine years in an era of free agency and revolving-door coaches is a monumental accomplishment. Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich have been around for all four. Duncan's complementary pieces (Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Bruce Bowen) have been there for the last three. One thing the Spurs have not done, however, is repeat, a fact pointed out to Popovich on Thursday night.
"Will that be extra motivation for next season?" he was asked.
"I don't give a s---," Pop said with a smile.
My guess is, he does. And if the Spurs win again, we'll resume this conversation.
Jack McCallum is the author of "Seven Seconds or Less: My Season on the Bench with the Runnin' and Gunnin' Phoenix Suns," a behind-the-scenes account of the Suns' 2005-06 season. Click here to order a copy.