The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.

JULY  2007

                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.







The Next Dynasty?

By Jerry Keys

Eight of the nine years between 1980 and 1988 saw either the Boston Celtics or Los Angeles capture the NBA title.  It was Magic vs. Bird.  Over the next fifteen years the title was won in streaks.  The Detroit Pistons won it all in 1989-90, the Chicago Bulls in 1991-93 and 1996-98, the Houston Rockets in 1994-95, and the Lakers in 2000-02 (1999 was a strike year, not a full season).  The San Antonio Spurs have never won consecutive titles but have won four of the last nine and three of the last five (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007).

The major difference is not only were none back-to-back but they were done so quietly.  Magic and Bird "were" basketball in the 1980's, the Pistons were the "Bad Boys of the NBA", the Bulls had "Mr. Basketball" Michael Jordan, the Rockets had Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon, and the Lakers had Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal.  The Spurs have marquis players but they just fly "under the radar". 

Tim Duncan is not your average superstar.  He does not show up on police blotters, does not want the spotlight shone upon him, and you never see him

Jerry Keys

on ESPN going berserk during an interview.  What you do see is a quiet leader who respects the game and the fans who pay to

see him play.

Tony Parker has solidified himself as a premier guard and an ample sidekick to Duncan.  You knew Parker was destined for stardom after manhandling the Lakers in the 2003 playoffs.  Manu Ginobili is a budding guard and like Parker and Duncan, he is in his prime.  Add in veterans Bruce Bowen, Robert Horry, Brent Barry, and Michael Finley and you have the ingredients to contend yearly.

Today's Spurs are a lot different than the 1999-00 team that won their first title.  That was won under "The Admiral's" watch, David Robinson and an aging, yet polished, crew.  Parker came aboard in 2001-02 and Ginobili in 2002-03 (three titles).  Bowen was acquired in 2001-02 (three), Horry in 2003-04 (two), Barry in 2004-05 (two), and Finley in 2005-06 (one). 

During all four titles, the same coach was at the helm, Gregg Popovich.  Popovich took over after the very popular Bob Hill was let go during the 1996-97 season.  The Spurs hit the wall that year after Robinson missed all but six games.  The team

lucked out after going 20-62 by receiving the #1 pick in the 1997 draft.  That pick was Duncan.

So where do the Spurs fall in comparison to the other title teams of the last 25 years?  They have more titles than any crew except Jordan's Bulls and Magic's Lakers.  Their consistency sets the Spurs apart from the Rockets and Pistons (Rockets never made

it back to the title game, Pistons lost in the finals one year before their back-to-back). 

Bird's Celtics won only three titles in six years but appeared in five over a seven-year period (1981-87), losing only to Magic's Lakers in 1985 and 1987.  Magic saw action in nine finals from 1980-91, winning five and losing to the Celtics (1984), Philadelphia 76'ers (1983, think Julius Erving-Moses Malone), and the young up-and-coming Pistons (1989) and Bulls (1991).

The Bryant-Shaq Lakers won three straight (lost to Pistons in 2004) and Jordan collected six titles and lost none.  The Spurs have four, with no losses.  The only thing they have not done is winning any of them back-to-back.  The 2007-08 NBA season appears to be a golden opportunity to do so. 

The Leastern (Eastern) Conference has only one team with Finals experience, the Pistons.  Make that two now, the LeBron James' Cavaliers.  It is relatively safe to say that James and Duncan will meet again in the Finals down the road.  The Spurs largest obstacle may be just getting to the Finals.  The Western Conference is stocked with perennial contenders, Dallas, Phoenix, Houston, and Utah.

James will collect his rings but like Jordan, who had to cut his teeth from 1985-90 losing twice to Bird's Celtics and three times to the "Bad Boys" Pistons, he must wait in line.  It's Duncan's time for the moment but there is

only a short window of opportunity if history repeats itself.  I feel Duncan will win a couple more titles and then we can assess how he compares to the greats of yesterday.