After watching the Golden State Warriors take down the Portland Trailblazers in a complete sweep last night in the Western Conference Finals without their back-to-back Finals MVP rockstar player Kevin Durant, I began to ponder how the Dubs stacked up against the rest of the greatest dynasties in NBA history. After doing some research, I came to the conclusion that I believe that their true “Strength in numbers” has made them to have the potential to become the most dominant NBA dynasty ever. But first, we must look at the other candidates in for the most dominant NBA Dynasty in chronological order:
1. Showtime Lakers 1979-1991
It’s hard, when thinking about the past NBA dynasties, to not think of the Showtime Lakers of 1979-1991.
The Los Angeles Lakers historically have always been good, but the real moment that people began to place them in comparisons to a dynasty would be their 1979-80 season. This was because of two names: Ervin “Magic” Johnson and Kareem Abdul Jabbar.
First off, no one had ever seen a 6’9″ player with the level of agility and ball handling that Magic Johnson had and had definitely never seen a point guard with those characteristics. I’m sure there was an outbreak of the clip-board breaking syndrome epidemic for coaches during this! They had no idea of what to do! It is hard enough to try and guard a player of that height in the paint, but having to guard someone like him all over the half would be a complete shock to any defender.
Even though Magic dominated the league because of his height at his position, he still didn’t necessarily dominate with a signature move. Kareem did. He, in a round about way, invented the sky-hook. In it, he would use his 7’2″ and his 7’8″ wingspan to shoot a hook shot over each defender, while using his body as protection from them stealing the ball. It took the name “sky-hook” from how high the arc was on the shot from his long wingspan. There are only a few signature moves that have shaken up the NBA before (Michael Jordan fadeaway, Allen Iverson handles, and Steph Curry range), and this was one of them. It helped the Lakers significantly.
This Lakers team won five NBA titles in the course of twelve years! One primary reason that they were stopped a few times was the presence of the 1979-88 Boston Celtics.
2. 79-88 Boston Celtics
Now this team was absolutely great, but it was primarily focused around one NBA superstar: Larry Bird.
Starting out with his rookie season, he averaged 21.3 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game. To add to that impressive stat, he also started out his career making 83.6% of his free throws. Larry was a star studded beast! Also, many people don’t know how tall he was. Bird was 6’9″, which meant that he was a huge rival to Magic Johnson. In fact, the Lakers/Celtics rivalry in the 80s might be considered one of the most heated times in all of American sports. Despite losing to the Lakers on multiple occasions, this Celtics team still pulled off three title wins in the eighties. But, all of the world was about to be shocked about what elite level the super teams rose to in the 90s.
3. The 90s Bulls
Now this was one heck of a team. Household names like Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Steve Kerr, and Dennis Rodman. It is important to look at the 90s Bulls in two phases: The 1991-93 team and the 1996-98 team. In 91-93, the Bulls won three straight NBA titles with a big man-centered team. Half of the team (8/16) was 6’10” or taller, four of which were at least seven feet tall! After winning their third title, Michael Jordan left the team because he wanted to pursue a career in baseball.
Those couple of years that Mike played baseball were not the best, and consequently he decided to come back to basketball and play for the Bulls again. Then they won another three consecutive titles! On this team, there was only four big men 6’10” or taller (which is 1/4 of the team), so the focus was not primarily on the men in the paint. This team was different because of its defensive and shooting approach. They picked up Dennis Rodman, who was one of the best defenders in the league, to focus on defense. Next, they picked up Steve Kerr, who was one of, if not the best, three point shooters at the time. To add, Michael Jordan began shooting, and better yet making more three pointers as well, from 137 makes for 423 attempts in 91-93, to 252 makes for 683 attempts. Threes not only help contribute points to the team, but also carry momentum towards the collective energy of the team as a whole.
This team is definitely the ideal level that other current NBA teams try to shoot their aspirations toward. The 90s Bulls were surreal, and will forever be considered legendary.
4. Spurs 1999-2014
After Michael Jordan retired from the NBA, the league had a huge gap to fill. The Spurs saw this opportunity and jumped on it immediately, with their leader, Gregg Popovich.
Now Popovich is considered by many to be the greatest basketball coach of all time. He brought this Spurs team to win 5 NBA Finals titles in the course of fifteen years. What’s more, he even has the respect of other players in the league that consider him one of their coaches, despite being on another team. He he even coached the U.S. Olympic basketball team! Additionally, he is still coaching the Spurs now. So yah, this guy has plenty of experience.
The weird part about this team was that they had very few superstars. Early on, they had Tim Duncan and Steve Kerr. Later, they picked up Kawhi Leonard — besides them, there has been little superstar action on the team. However, despite this, they still managed to be in the top ten NBA teams in assists per game. My one explanation for this is that when Gregg Popovich coaches the team plays like a team. They trust their teammates and pass a lot. Not only that, but this stat shows that they don’t constantly rush the ball offensively, which means they must be relaxed when they play. One of the only ways they can be relaxed is if their coach uses an effective tactic of supporting his players throughout the game. So, the extreme success of the Spurs has to be accredited to none other than coach Popovich.
5. The 1999-2004 Lakers
A young Kobe Bryant and a Shaquille O’Neal in his prime absolutely demolished the league in 1999. Shaq had just recently came to the Los Angeles Lakers from the Orlando Magic, which we know was because he was probably sick of going to Disney World so much, that he decided to try out Disneyland 🙂 .
On a more serious note, Kobe Bryant was a ridiculous athlete. He was built pretty similar to Michael Jordan, whereas Mike was 6’6″ and 216 pounds, Kobe was 6’6″ and 212 pounds. He could slam it if he wanted to, or he could shoot it from almost anywhere, and on top of that was an outstanding defender! All of his coaches and teammates said that he had something called the “Mamba Mentality” where he was the first one practicing and the last one to leave. He was the hardest worker on the court. The combination of Kobe and Shaq was second to none! Shaq would shatter backboards and Kobe would be a lights-out shooter; Shaq would shatter more backboards and Kobe would continue to be a lights out shooter — day in and day out.
This team won three NBA titles, but sadly couldn’t stay together for very long. Kobe is a perfectionist and kept working on his diet to stay lean, but he noticed that Shaq was starting to “slack off” and begin to gain weight. After these two bantered at each other for a while, Shaquille decided to leave and join the Miami Heat. Kobe stayed in Los Angeles. After all of that, both of them won more NBA titles; this causes many basketball analysts to ponder what this team would have been like if they stayed together for a longer period of time. I guess we truly will never know.
6. The 2015-Present Golden State Warriors
Now that the Warriors beat the Trailblazers in the Western Conference Finals this year, they will be on a trip to their fifth consecutive NBA Finals. Out of the four that they have played, they have won three, only losing one year when the outstanding defender Draymond Green was suspended. The team is made up of consistent shooters, and all of the (initial) starters are all stars: Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Demarcus Cousins. Both KD and Boogie Cousins were out for this series and still the team managed to secure a 4-0 sweep against the third seed in the NBA Western Conference. This illustrates how relentless this team is to win a title. At first this season I thought that they were slacking off, but now the Warriors are going beast-mode!
Steph Curry, who has been historically quiet in the NBA Playoffs, had a 37 point triple-double last night and Draymond Green has lost a decent amount of weight, just so that he can run faster this year. Klay is about as consistent as ever and is lights out from three anytime. Andre Igoudala is bringing positive energy to the court and leading his teammates to great plays. Overall, this team seems absolutely impenetrable! They lose their best player and another all-star, and still demolish their opponents! It’s unheard of!
Overall, I think that the 2015-Present Golden State Warriors team has the most potential of any other NBA Dynasty, but they have not been around long enough to be ranked on top yet. All of the other Dynasties had more time to show off their total dominance of the league, so it is too early to call. Right now I would Rank them behind the 90s Bulls, 80s Celtics, and Showtime Lakers. However, I think that they are better than the Spurs and early-2000s Lakers in their peak. But first they have to acknowledge and solve multiple issues facing them: injuries, aging, and free agency.