Thursday, June 14, 2007

Spurs: Great Dynasty...or the Greatest Dynasty?

Just kidding, of course... but am I? Certainly, this Spurs team can't be ranked ahead of Jordan's Bulls*, but can they be ranked No. 3 just behind those Bulls and the 5x title-winning 80s Lakers -- and ahead of such dynasties as the 1980s Celtics or 2000s Lakers? I say yes...

As everyone talks about the Spurs as a "dynasty" for winning their 4th title in 9 years, I'd like to self-servingly point out that I called the Spurs a dynasty two years ago, after they won their 3rd title in 7 years. Many readers mocked me for that, actually.

I didn't think the "dynasty" label was premature then, just as I affirm the "dynasty" label now, before they have even clinched that fourth title. In fact, it's not just a dynasty, but we'll look back and know it as the "Duncan Dynasty."

And, by comparison, it was nearly as impressive and dominant of a dynasty as the "Showtime" Lakers in the 1980s, who won five titles in 9 years. (With this title, the Spurs eclipse the 1980s "Simmons" Celtics, who won three titles in 6 years... though arguably that team probably would have won more titles if the Lakers weren't so good.)

However, given the infinitely greater competitive pressures of this era versus that era, I'd say these Spurs are even MORE impressive and dominant.

(We have mythologized those Lakers and Celtics teams, but they would have never survived playing in this century of flattening competitive forces. For starters, Red Auerbach would have never been able to have "snuck in" the Larry Bird draft pick. With that simple idea: That ends any chance the Celtics had of winning any titles.)

It was two years ago that these "Duncan Dynasty" Spurs passed the mid-90s "Hakeem and Co." Rockets and the late-80s "Bad Boy" Pistons, each of whom only won two -- though back-to-back -- titles.

The most relevant competition, though: The Spurs have now passed the early-2000s "Shaq/Kobe" Lakers, who won three titles in a row, but can't match Duncan's Spurs for total titles won.

The team these Spurs are still eclipsed by, obviously, is the 6-time champion Bulls of the 1990s. (But only in titles... could this Spurs team have beaten any of those Bulls teams? See below.*)

NBA's Top Dynasties since 1980:
1. 1990s Bulls
2. 1980s Lakers
3. 2000s Spurs
4. 1980s Celtics
5. 2000s Lakers
6. Mid-90s Rockets
7. Late-80s Pistons

(As longtime Quickie readers know, I qualify two titles in a row as a "dynasty," because the pace of change and disruption in sports has become so accelerated, but multiple titles in any decade -- or less -- also obviously qualifies.)

You might not like where these uninspiring Spurs will rank on the list ahead of the mythologized heroes of your innocent childhood and hormone-jacked adolescent memories, but you can't deny they won't deserve it.

* - Oh, and by the way: I'd argue that this Spurs team could have beaten Jordan's Bulls champ in 1998 for the same reason that Hakeem's mid-90s Rockets repeat champs would have beaten Jordan's teams: Those Bulls teams had absolutely no answer for a great center. Like Hakeem (who was in his prime, no less), Duncan could have led the Spurs past the '98 Bulls.

So, again, to clarify for the purposes of my argument: Could this Spurs team have beaten MJ's Bulls team, let's assume that I mean Jordan's 1998 team. That Bulls team had no answer for the spots the Spurs were strongest -- PG (Parker) and PF/C (Duncan). And, while no one could stop MJ -- though you have to admit MJ was slowing down by '98 -- I'd take my chances with the player (Bowen) who is arguably the NBA's best perimeter defender of the decade.

-- D.S.

UPDATE, FRIDAY 06/15: I received an email from the inimitable Kelly Dwyer of, who knows far more about basketball than I do. I'm going to paste his email response to this below, and I recommend it for all of those of you who were involved in debating this post. Let me just point out that while I am very fast with a half-baked opinion, I am the first one to see the light (some call it "flip-flopping," but I see no shame in that) in the face of a better argument and -- y'know -- real analysis. Here you go:

"Dan, Dan, DAN. Come on babe, you know I love you; but you have to wait a week before writing that. Let your tummy settle before jumping in the pool.

In theory the Bulls had no answer for that PG/big combo -- but in practice, it made little difference. Watch the tapes of that 1998 series against Utah. Phil Jackson left Ron Harper on the bench too long of Game 1, his body stiffened up, and Steve Kerr was left to guard Stockton down the stretch of the end of regulation and overtime. Stockton killed Kerr, even hitting the game-deciding shot in the lane during overtime.

Jackson then went to the same defense he used to slow Stockton down during the 1997 Finals and 1996 Finals with Gary Payton. On elbow-extended S/R on the right side of the court, he had Harper go over the screen to deny the jump shot -- even though that meant Stockton would have an easier chance at driving into the lane. But, by Game 2, the rest of the Bulls were prepped to cover for Harper going over the screen. Only a career-best game from Antoine Carr in Game 5 put a chink in this, only because he was able to pop up to the top of the key (Ostertag being unable to hit that jumper) and either nail low-percentage jumpers that the Bulls were happy with him taking, or drive to the hole (as a charge/turnover waiting to happen, the Bulls were quite happy in spite of his success rate).

If the S/R took place on the left side of the court, the Bulls forced the guard baseline; where he could either try an out of rhythm 19-footer with Harper to his right and a big in front of him, or bounce the ball out to a wing and start the possession again. The defense didn't completely decimate the PG, but it came close.

Also, check Gary Payton's stats from the 1996 Finals. He was horrid. Then check the stats from Games 3, 4, and 5 -- Ron Harper was out for those games. The Bulls lost two of three, and Payton went off. Harper could lock you up.

I agree, again in theory, that the Bulls were weak on the interior defensively. In spite of this, they were one of the top teams (1st, 4th, and 3rd) in defensive efficiency during their latter run, with the Rodman/Longley combo long underrated. Look at the litany of centers they had to guard in the 1996 playoffs -- Alonzo Mourning, Patrick Ewing (still in his prime), and Shaquille O'Neal. Rodman (mostly) and Longley went at those guys with single teams, as Holzman-product Phil Jackson was loathe to double-team. Three Hall of Fame centers, and the Bulls lost once in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Once. Solid. Those guys could defend.

Shawn Kemp had a fine series against the Bulls in the Finals, but he also fouled out of most of the games and let Rodman set offensive rebounding record for a Finals. It went both ways. And Kemp couldn't be any more different than Duncan -- they're not exactly running any lob-and-dunk plays for TD, as they did with Kemp. Duncan is more the traditional center.

Most analysts tend to look at these hypothetical matchups like the newspaper layouts that precede the Finals or Super Bowl (SF, Advantage: Bulls, SG, Advantage: Bulls, PG, Advantage: Spurs), as if the strong statistical offensive advantage in certain areas is enough to counter the solid offensive advantage in others. It doesn't work that way. On paper, a name like Ron Harper doesn't mean much to people anymore; but I have the tapes -- Tim Hardaway
had twice the season Tony Parker did this year during 1996-97, with Mourning and Ike Austin up front, and the Heat could barely take a game from Chicago during the '97 EC Finals. The "awesome PG + awesome big man = Bulls can't keep up" bit works on paper, but time and time again they shot that idea all to hell.

My concern for those Bulls teams would be its ability to SCORE on the Spurs, not defend them."

Thanks for the reply, KD. I consider myself schooled.


Unknown said...

Man, until the list at the bottom noting "Since 1980," I was actaully swearing at my screen at the spurning of the 60's Celtics. Can't say I agree with the Spurs beating the Bulls, but good stuff, Dan.

Mikepcfl said...

Dan, you go against your own words. You define a dynasty as winning two titles in a row. These Spurs have never done that.

As for whether they would beat the 80s Lakers or Celtics. Those teams could do one thing that teams today cant...shoot. How many wide open 10 footers did those guys miss back then? Very few. Now, all guys can do is dunk and shoot a set shot 3 pointer.

And you say the Celtics couldnt have gotten Larry Bird with a sneak pick. The Spurs couldnt have gotten Duncan without the Draft Lottery. Take away the lottery and the Spurs dont get Duncan and thus no titles.

Geoff said...

You underrate the Pistons, but that is ok because almost everyone does. Also those Pistons teams were late 80s. By the early 90s they were done.

A.P. Boynton said...

Spurs beat a mediocre Knicks team, a mediocre Nets team, a great Pistons team, and now a mediocre Cavs team. I can't classify them as a great dynasty because they haven't beaten great teams.

Justin Kadis said...


They can't pick their opponents so in my view you can't put it against them.

I think these Spurs are in fact a dynasty, but I think they would get drummed by the Bulls.

Mikepcfl said...

If the great Bulls teams couldnt handle a great center, then how can you put them above the Lakers?

I think Jordan would find a way to beat the Lakers or Spurs despite the Bulls' lack of a great center. Ewing was never an all-time great, but the Bulls handled him pretty easily, so I think they could at least keep Duncan or Kareem in check.

Mikepcfl said...

Thinking now about the Bulls vs Spurs. I think Oakley would have knocked the shit out of Duncan if they played. Duncan eventually would have been scared to go in the lane.

Darklawdog said...

If the Bulls had no one to stop Duncan, then who do the Spurs have that could stop Jordan and Pippen. I laugh at anyone who says Bruce Bowen.

Tony Parker = Too Small
Manu Ginobli = Wouldn't get his flops called against Jordan or Pippen

I'm also positive that the Bulls were capable of stopping a great center. I still remember Rodman bodying up Shaq like it was nothing.

Nelvis said...

Yes the Bulls would have problems with a great center, but remember what the Bulls did vs. the Sonics in the 96 Finals. The Bulls couldn't stop Kemp, but they put the clamps on practically everyone else.

Also it would depend on which set of rules they would play with. Todays NBA's defensive rules would make the Spurs a tougher challenge because the Spurs could play zone. On the other hand, Jordan and Pippen wouldn't have to work so hard playing zone.

Matt T said...

@a.p. boynton:

They beat the shitty east teams, but they had to come out of the West each year to do that. I'm no fan of the Spurs but they can't help the fact the east is weak.

To use the Larry Bird thing against the Celtics seems silly. Thats what happens when you compare eras, there are rule changes and such, like the other commenter pointed out with the Spurs getting Duncan in the lottery.

Nelvis said...

Forgot to add, these now way in the world Bulls or Spurs would beat the Lakers. Hell, the first Bulls team had a tough 5 game series vs the Lakers w/o Worthy in the lineup.

A lineup of Parker, Finley, Bowen, Duncan, and Robinson with Manu and Avery off the bench is pretty damn good and hard to matchup aganist.

It seems we tend to forget that the "Showtime" Lakers were one hell of a defensive team. Bruce Bowen is a poor man's Michael Cooper (who did it w/o a zone). Also, having guys like Kareem and AC Green that can bang the boards as good as San Antonio would give them problems.

Give me the Lakers in 7 vs the Spurs and 6 vs the Bulls.

Unknown said...

I TOTALLY disagree that the mid-90's Houston Rockets would have beaten Jordan's Bulls in the NBA Finals. That makes no sense.

Dan, do you realize that WITHOUT JORDAN in the 93-94 and 94-95 seasons, the Bulls went 2-2 against Houston in the regular season? (from I'll repeat: without Jordan. And with an ancient Bill Cartwright, Luc Longley, and Will Perdue at center for these seasons.

Dan Shanoff said...

I'm quite sure that this post will spark a really good debate, and I haven't been proven wrong in the early going. You all make really good, valid points.

Specifically re: the Bird-drafting vs. Duncan-drafting point, I'd distinguish between winning the Lottery, which was entirely luck, and pulling an end around and drafting Bird, which NEVER would have happened today. The Bird point was about the competitive landscape of the league never letting that happen today, versus the luck-of-the-draw in getting Duncan in the Lottery.

Maybe I should clarify about the Bulls. How about if we just say that this Spurs team versus the '98 Bulls team, specifically, would be interesting. This Spurs team is exceptional at the two positions that Bulls team was weakest: PG and PF/C. The Bulls would have had no answer for Parker or Duncan. Period.

Now, would the Spurs have had an answer for Jordan? Probably not -- who did? -- but I'd take my chances with the player (Bowen) who is arguably the NBA's best perimeter defender of the decade. He's clamping down on LeBron, and it's not like that's nuthin'.

Anyway, the Comments are a great place to refine my arguments a little, so I hope people read them -- and this -- before going crazy on me.

Matt T said...

But at the time, Gary Payton was the premier perimeter defender when the Bulls played the Sonics. They still won that series going against a great PF/C and PG.

Dan Shanoff said...

Re: The Rockets-Bulls debate from the comment directly above my first comment.

Claiming that the Rockets and Bulls were "2-2" in the regular season is as irrelavant as noting that the Cavs were 2-0 versus the Spurs in the regular season THIS year.

And let's not confuse the Rockets team from the '94-95 regular season with the "Heart of a Champion" playoff team that ripped through the West, beating higher-seeded teams all the way through the West playoffs before completely dismantling Shaq and Penny in the NBA Finals.

Dan Shanoff said...

Again, I just want to sum up my comment from before: Sorry to tweak the hypothetical to fit my own needs, but I'll restrict my matchup to this Spurs team versus Jordan's '98 title team.

But my point is that this Spurs team could beat MJ's Bulls team. Not necessarily MJ's BEST Bulls champ... or even fifth-best Bulls champ... but his sixth-best Bulls champ? I think the Spurs could win that series.

Unknown said...

I know the regular season stats for Bulls-Rockets don't represent a playoff matchup very well (especially given Houston's momentum) but at least it's some sort of comparison.

I'd also argue that Jordan, Jackson, and the rest of the Bulls had no problem with establishing playoff momentum of their own. Pointing out the Houston playoff performance only equalizes the teams; it does not eclipse the Bulls.

It's worth noting that we would have seen Bulls-Rockets (without Jordan) if it wasn't for one of the worst calls of all time by Hue Hollins in the pivotal Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals. #7 on the ESPN Readers List of "Worst Calls in History":

(BTW, pretty impressive that the Bulls came that close to the Finals without Jordan... this always gets lost in the Bulls dynasty talk).

pv845 said...

I am a Spurs fan but I would argue there is no comparison between guarding Jordan and guarding James. While James is bigger, I think they are comparably athletic in terms of explosiveness and speed. However, Jordan had a killer instinct and never hesitated going to the rim. What made Jordan even more effective is people knew his aggressiveness and he could stop on a dime and hit a mid-range shot. James is not anywhere near as aggressive as Jordan and can't hit a mid-range shot half of the time.

It would be an interesting series, but as many people have said, who knows what would have happened because of the difference in rules and styles of play.

CMFost said...

Spurs = Not a Dynasty!!!!!
Why because they have never successfully defended there title until they do that they are not a Dynasty.

Anonymous said...

Shanoff, you opened up a can of worms here. People aren't going to allow you to defame the "GREAT" Chicago Bulls by implying that they could actually lose to somebody, they won't hear of it.

I can picture Ahmad Rashad plotting your demise right now.

I agree with you though for what it's worth and I think the "legend" of the Bulls is probably stronger than what the team actually was, but that probably goes for most "historic" and "beloved" teams in all sports.

As for other comments...

The Bulls still would have had to beat Indiana in '94 to face Houston, and offering instances when the Bulls actually had calls go against them is ludicrous. No team in the history of sports got more calls than the Bulls, and it's not even close.

CMFost said...

Dan - this Spurs Team could not beat Any of The Jordan Era Bulls Champions, They Could Not beat the 80's Celtics with Bird, Parrish, McHale, they could not beat the 80's Lakers with Magic, Kareem and Worthy.

Trey said...

RE: Bulls/Rockets

The Bulls never even had to play the Rockets in the Finals, which means that they couldn't get out of the west. This means you're either conceding that Hakeem only had a 2-year prime that just so happened to coincide with Jordan's retirement or you have to recognize that they weren't as good as everyone's giving them credit for now. Seriously, who could stop Jordan?

Mikepcfl said...

Actually, the Rockets might never have won a title if John Starks could hit anything at all in game 7 or if Nick Anderson could make 1 out of 4 free throws in game 1.

Unknown said...

Plexxxx, the Bulls didn't get calls, Jordan did. Like all NBA superstars.

The absolute WORST case of ref favoritism I have ever seen was Wade in the playoffs last year.

Anyway, this is the Oldest Sports Debate (comparing teams/players of different eras) and it's all pretty much arbitrary. However, Plexxxx, you didn't really list any reasons why you feel the Bulls are so overrated (other than ref favoritism... any specific, game-altering examples you can cite like Hue Hollins?).

Also could you please tell us who your favorite NBA team is? I grew up in Chicago in the 80's and 90's so obviously I've got some bias! (sports debates should always include a disclaimer about the person's favorite or childhood team, like stock market analysts disclosing their stock positions).

slaskaris said...

"I think the "legend" of the Bulls is probably stronger than what the team actually was"

- The "legend" effect happens to every team, Plexxxx! We certainly look back at all these dynasties that way. But it actually fits with the Bulls...

Go look at the greatest records of all time and you'll see several of those Bulls teams including a certain team at the very top.
There aren't enough adjectives to describe how great they were as a team. Spurs - very good but they don't have 4 Bowens to guard everybody. The Bulls always had someone step up when needed: Paxson, Kukoc, Longley, Buechler, Kerr, etc.

NBA was loaded with much more talent in the 80's and 90's without a doubt. I don't understand how that got tossed aside.

Farthammer said...

I am pretty sure the Lakers won 5 titles in 9 years. 80, 82, 85, and 87-88.

Unknown said...

Didn't Bill Russell win like 13 rings in 8 years? C'mon let's not forget the past like ESPN does...

Anonymous said...

Knicks fan, doesn't cloud my judgement...seriously LOL

I never came out and said they were overrated, I just said the legend is stronger than the team itself, and it is.

I think the late 90's Bulls were definitely overrated, they played in the most watered down league imaginable and didn't have any true competition. The East and West both were down, especially in '96, where the league in general was just trash.

I think the early 90's teams were better and competed in a stronger league, but they didn't have real competition the great teams of the 80's did.

The Lakers, Celtics, Sixers, those teams all beat up on each other in the playoffs every year.

The Knicks played the Bulls a bunch of times and probably played them better than anybody did in the grand scheme of things, but didn't have a balanced enough team to beat them.

Here's who the Bulls played in the Finals.

'91 Lakers. The Bulls were the better team anyway, and the Lakers were banged up. Nobody remembers this but Portland was the favorite to win it all that year, and the Lakers snuck out of Portland with a road win in Game 1 of the W.C. Finals and that was it. A Bulls -Blazers series goes 7 IMO.

'92 Blazers. Portland wasn't as good as the '91 team and the '92 Bulls I think were their best team. This should have went 7 but the 4th quarter of Game 6 was as badly officiated as the league has seen, assisting the Bulls in a big comeback to win the title.

'93 Suns. Best record in the league but most people suspected that the winner of the East would be champ. Suns were great offensively/poor defensively and would have sent it 7 if not for some really bad decision-making down the stretch of Game 6, like allowing Jordan to get an easy lay-up in the last minute with a 4 point lead.

'96 Sonics. Decent team, but certainly not historically great. Kemp destroyed the Bulls but nobody else did much. I remember Frank Brickowski being ejected as he was about to enter the game in Game 1 as Phil Jackson whined about him being used as a goon on Rodman, like Rodman wasn't one of the biggest goons the league ever saw, but that's another argument for another time. Officials were hardcore on the side of the Bulls in this series.

'97 & '98 Jazz. Played the Bulls tough, put a decent Center on the Jazz and they win at least one of these series. They had a great duo in Stockton/Malone, but the rest of the team was rubbish.

Also lost is that because of the same bad rule that cost Phoenix against San Antonio, the Bulls ended up playing the Heat in the E.C. Finals in '97 instead of a really good Knicks team. Not saying the Knicks would have won, but it would have been far more competitive that what Miami had to offer.

I don't see too many "great" teams on their resume. I think the '95 Rockets with Hakeem playing out of his mind and the best of these Spurs teams would be tough tests for the Bulls. Early 90's Bulls winning those series and the late 90's Bulls losing those series.

Bulls and officiating? How much time do we have? It wasn't just Jordan, it trickled down to the rest of the team too, plus Phil Jackson got more calls than anybody and still complained more than everybody else too about not getting calls.

As far as "game deciding" calls, off the head I can only think of Game 2 in the '97 2nd Round.

Atlanta up 1-0 in the series and on the road in a tie game with around 30 secs left. Blaylock gets the ball in the backcourt is shoved out of bounds, backcourt violation is called, Bulls score, Game over.

It's hard to remember specific examples because it was so long ago, but if anybody gets a chance to watch old Bulls playoff games on NBA or ESPN Classic, there's a lot of obvious stuff there.

Johnny b said...

nobody has mentioned this yet and while the spurs team probably isn't as good as the 80's Lakers and Celtics they're definitely not as good as the Shaq/Kobe/Phil Lakers because that team actually beat them

so at best this Spurs team is 5th

apoch said...

Will you and the rest of the sports world please stop with this dynasty crap? Four championships in 9 years does not make the spurs a dynasty. They are just the most dominant team of this dynasty-less era. Dominant, absolutely, irrefutably. But a dynasty? Absolutely not. Please, I know it goes against your nature, but cut out the hyperbole.

bkelly126 said...

can we consider them a dynasty if 3 of 4 championships many consider with an asterisk (the short season, the year kobe was injured, and after this year's phoenix debacle)?

Alan said...

"snuck in the Larry Bird pick" ??

C'mon Dan, you are better than that. All the Celtics did back then, as all teams did, was play by the rules and expose any advantage they could. Tell me this; you were trying to compare the 98 Bulls and the Spurs, saying how they wouldn't match up... okay, under that premise, who guards McHale? (given that Parish guards Duncan) -- Who guards Bird? Bowen? Bowen wouldn't stop Bird -- Ainge was not as quick as Parker, but the C's inside defense would have stopped some of those drive penetrations. I could go on with the Lakers team comparison, but I hope I don't need to. Just because the Spurs are doing it now doesn't make them greater than teams who have done it in different competitive environments. I am looking forward to tomorrows withdrawal/reevaluation of your list.

Dan Shanoff said...

Alan, my point about the Bird thing was that, in this day and age, they would never have been the only team to recognize the loophole. Scouting is just an infinitely more efficient machine than it was back then... although you could say the same thing about the Spurs being able to draft Parker at the end of Round 1 and Ginobili in the 2nd Round.

Dan Shanoff said...

By the way, I have substantially altered my original thesis, based on the fact that I COMPLETELY SCREWED UP one key fact: The 80s Lakers won 5 titles in 9 years, not four -- so they should definitely stay ahead of the Spurs (for now).

(1) 90s Bulls
(2) 80s Lakers
(3) 00s Spurs

My apologies to everyone: Obviously, I am an idiot.

I continue to appreciate everyone taking this as the thought exercise that it is, and not as some sort of gospel.

As with most of my arguments, I'm often thinking about these things in real time, putting them out there -- half-baked, to be sure -- and letting me and everyone else (meaning: you) kick the tires on them (sometimes slash the tires on them) to work through the various layered issues.

Anyway, thanks for the great discussion on this.

Shaggy said...

All I can say is I would have loved to see the Suns v. Spurs this yeear with No Suspensions (which was total BS by the way).

had it not been for for those suspensions we wouldnt even be talking about this right now.

And along the lines of bad-ratings this is what Stern gets for such a total and ridiculous idea suspending them. It could have been the Suns and Cavs..and that I would have loved to seen..

Unknown said...

The 1998 Bulls were still a great defensive team and they didn't need a great center to disrupt one. Pippen and Rodman wreaked havoc down low because they were quick, athletic, and long.

When the Bulls needed offense, Kukoc and Kerr provided points when opposing teams focused on Jordan. As a result, the Bulls would cause matchup problems for the Spurs - not the other way around.

1998 Bulls in 6 over Spurs - no doubt

d_helms32 said...

If the Spurs are such a great dynasty, why couldn't they beat the Lakers for those three years in a row? And if it wasn't for Karl Malone getting injured in 2004, the Lakers would have had 4 titles in 5 years. Like other people have been saying, until the Spurs can defend their title, I don't believe they're as good as the other teams.

Tom said...

My greatest disappointment as a Rockets fan living in the Chicago area was that the Bulls (with Jordan, mind you) lost to the Magic in the 1995 playoffs, and thus didn't get the chance to lose to the Rockets in the NBA Finals.

On MJ and the refs, it says something to me about the relationship that one of the iconic images, of Jordan hitting the game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 98 Finals, would have been a personal foul if it had been Byron Russell pushing off against Jordan, rather than the other way around.

marcomarco said...

Special thanks to the Spurs D for allowing a 3 pointer with 0:00 left


Marco 6 - Bookie 1. Net gain $0

O well. I suppose that's what i get for going 'all or nothing' on the spurs -3.

Nelvis said...

Of course the Spurs could beat the 98 Bulls team. People dont remember how they had a fight in every single round. That's why I was one of the few people that wasn't mad when the bulls were broken up. That 98 team was still great, but looked like they were running on fumes.

Erik Tylczak said...

I really don't understand how anyone can consider this Spurs run to be a dynasty when there was a Lakers dynasty inside it. As someone else said, dominant, yes, the Spurs are. A n all-time top dynasty? Even a dynasty at all? I think not.

bkelly126 said...

was this cavs team the worst ever finals team?

Unknown said...

You me a Dynasty has to include consecutive titles (3+). So no, I don't think the Spurs are a dynasty. They are, however, the most consistent team in the last 10 years which is just as good, since they have played at a high level.

Darklawdog said...

Everyone forgets that Ron Harper was on the '98 Bulls team. He could light it up from anywhere and was just as good defensively as Bowen is.

He averaged approx. 20 pts a game for his 1st 9 seasons and then he became a defensive stopper and deferred all the scoring to Jordan, Pippen, and Toni Kukoc.

Mikepcfl said...

I have to agree with the comments that those Laker teams of the mid 2000s were better than this Spurs "dynasty." Until the Lakers traded Shaq, this Spurs team couldnt beat the Lakers head to head, so I cant see how the Spurs could be considered better.

holtzab said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
holtzab said...

As Erik said, I don't know how they qualify as a dynasty. I think to truly be called a dynasty, you have to win at LEAST 3 titles in a row (I could possibly make an exception if a team won 4 titles in 5 years).

That's not to take anything away from the Spurs. They've been the most dominant team of the past decade, but that doesn't automatically qualify them for as a dynasty.

To me a dynasty is a long, uninterrupted string of dominance. I don't see how the Spurs qualify for this when the Lakers won three straight titles in the middle of the "dynasty."

bmajoras said...

What rules are we using when saying these teams would beat each other? I think if this Spurs dynasty plays the Bulls dynasty using 1990s rules, the Bulls win hands down since zone defense is illegal and no one on the Spurs would be able to stop MJ 1-on-1. If they use today's rules, I think S.A. gives them a run in 7 games. Just the same way I believe if zone defense were illegal, LeBron would've been able to take the series to 6 games just based on the fact no one on S.A. would stop him 1-on-1 (I admit, Bowen did a great job, but its easier to do a great job when you know you have help behind you rather than being on an island alone vs. LBJ).

Unknown said...

I love the pedantic arguements over such a subjective word as "dynasty". Really fascinating stuff (not being sarcastic). I owuld tkae issue with the people claiming it takes 3 titles in a row to be a dynasty. The 80' Oilers did not do that, but are often considered one of the best teams ever. They did win 5 championships in 7 years, but not 3 in a row.

holtzab said...

roboninja - I agree with you that the Oilers were a dynasty even if they didn't win 3 in a row. That's why I qualified my statement that there are exceptions if a team can manage to win four titles in five years (or five in seven years as the case may be).

They won more titles than the Spurs in a shorter amount of time, and you can't really point to another dominant team during that span (unlike with the Spurs where you have the Lakers who won three in a row).

It's definitely a subjective thing (otherwise it would be so boring to talk about). I just really take issue with the people who change the definition of a dynasty because it's more difficult to string together multiple championships with the way leagues are structured these days.

stormshadow said...

Why does everyone keep saying the Spurs never beat the Lakers during the Lakers' dynasty???

How hard is it to remember 2003, when the Spurs, after being knocked out by the Lakers in '01 and '02, eliminated the 3-time defending champion 'dynastic' Lakers in the Western Conference Semis? Shaq and Kobe were both healthy, as were Duncan and Robinson. You can't count '00, because Duncan was injured that year.

And then '04, the Lakers beat them on a freaking miracle 0.04 shot.

I just don't see the problem with a 'dynastic' team having one major foil or rival in the playoffs. The difference over the 80's, is that the Lakers and Spurs are in the same the 80's, the Lakers and Celtics were always able to meet up in the Finals. (The 80's Lakers had NO competition in the West)

So if you leave out 2000, in 01, 02, and 04, the Lakers knocked out the Spurs en route to the Finals, and in 03 the Spurs knocked off the champs to win it all.

I'll leave with this point. Everyone makes a big deal of not repeating, and that does have validity in this argument. But you can easily argue that the Spurs were the best (and always the overall favorite) team from 2003-2007. They may not have made it back to the Finals in 04 and 06, but each time they were knocked out by the eventual West representative. They've never been knocked out by a #8 seed or some fluke team. From 2001-2007, they've either lost to the eventual champ or West rep, or they've won it all. To me, that's as close to a dynasty as you can get.

Unknown said...

OK, while you should never take these things as the gospel truth, I ran the 1998 Bulls vs 2007 Spurs through the WhatIfSports Simulator.
Since the Bulls had the better record (Bulls 62-20 vs Spurs 58-24), I gave them the first two home games. The results? Chicago sweeps:

Game 1 (in Chicago):
San Antonio 96 - Chicago 99
Game 2 (in Chicago):
San Antonio 99 - Chicago 105
Game 3 (in San Antonio):
Chicago 101 - San Antonio 90
Game 4 (in San Antonio):
Chicago 101 - San Antonio 80

Precourt said...

If the Blazers win the WC. If the officials weren't on the bulls side. If the Suns didn't have horrendous decision making. If the Jazz had a decent center. Or if Jordan was on the Jazz . Or if the Knicks had Drexler. Or if the Sonics and Jazz joined rosters.

Yeah and if Jordan didn't leave they would have had 8 titles in a row. Like someone pointed out they almost made it to the finals without Jordan(taking the eventual EC champs to 7), what else could possibly be the outcome WITH Jordan. Please don't tell me you think that Knicks team would have ever beat a Jordan team. And they took the Rockets to 7.

That's a lot of ifs. You can't deal with ifs. IF you did it would be an endless debate. You can only deal with what happened. With all those ifs, a full strength Jordan won 6 straight titles.

The will to win just outweighed everything and would continue to do so against this Spurs team.

PF/C, PG arugment. In 1995-96 season you could have traded Pre Injury Penny, a PG, or Shaq, a C, for anyone in the League.

That Magic team was 7-1 and won by an average of 14 ppg in the playoffs before the Conference finals.

They were young but don't forget they had Horace Grant(13.4 ppg), Nick Anderson (14.7), and Dennis Scott(17.5). Not to mention beat a Rusty Jordan team and went to the finals the year before.

You know what happened to those Bulls who were weak at the PF/C and PG positions. They let them each score over 25.5 ppg and SWEPT them by an average of 16 ppg.

Grant Scott and Anderson combined for 2 (that is 1 plus 1 equals 2) points in 84 minutes. After that game Grant was so embarrased by this that he sat out the rest of the series like the pussy he was.

Rodman was a much more than capable defender and would have played Duncan just as well as he played Malone or Shaq. Rodman would have Duncan's eyes fully popped out of his head. Don't forget they had the three headed monster of Longley Wennington and Purdue. That is 18 fouls.

I don't argue that Duncan would have gotten his 26/11 and Parker got his 25 or whatever. That's only 51 points. The rest of the team gets shut down.

The 98 Bulls had 5 people with 1 steal or more per game. Jordan Pippen Kukoc Harper and Randy Brown who only played 16 mpg. He matches up with Parker very well.

98 Bulls vs. 07 Spurs team is no contest. Duncan is used to controlling the glass. Who do you think would have gotten more rebounnds? Duncan who averaged 10.6 or Rodman who averaged 15.0.

Put Bowen on Jordan? Ha Ha Ha oh did I mention Ha yet. You could put Oscar Robertson on Jordan and he is still going to get his 31 ppg(96-98) that he averaged in the Finals.

Now who guards Pippen. There is nobody left. Please don't say Manu. Imagine a Manu vs. Pip matchup. Oh Lord that would be fun.

It's obviously not close.

Now for the Zone Comment. You seem to think that would favor the Spurs. Where would Parker go when you have 3 guys over 6'6 on the perimeter with those long arm spans. That takes the "problem" the Bulls have with PG's and lessens it.

Please reconsider Dan. I have lost faith in you recently and this is not helping the cause.

At that point in his career you just weren't beating Jordan in a 7 game series. No debate. He is the epitome of will, heart, and determination.

2 more things

Watch that video. At about 3:40 Jordan "pushes" off. They are on the Jazz side of the court. I want you to picture yourself on the bench of the Jazz. Coach of the Jazz. How are you not screaming at the referee? How is the entire team not yelling at the refs. The crowd is not chanting BULL SHIT BULL SHIT. He didn't push him.

Finally 2 quotes to leave everyone with. First by Larry Bird
"God disguised as Michael Jordan."
The second by what many people think is the 2nd best player and some even think he is the best in the past 30 years.
Magic Johnson said "There's Michael Jordan and then there is the rest of us."

Two pretty reliable sources who you would think knew what they were talking about....

There is absolutely no possible way that "God" loses a 7 game series to one of the "rest of us"

Greatest. Ever. Period.

Jackson Thoreau said...

The Spurs are not a dynasty. For one thing, they have never won successive NBA titles, which is something a team has to do to even be considered a dynasty. In fact, they have been lucky in winning their four NBA titles. These lucky breaks are why most real NBA experts don't really respect the Spurs and don’t consider them a dynasty.

In 1998-99, a season tainted by being reduced to 50 regular season games, the Spurs were lucky that they only had to play the Eastern Conference’s 8th seeded team, the Knicks, in the finals, as the Knicks upset the top-seeded Heat.

In 2002-03, the Spurs were lucky that the Eastern Conference was so poor that its top-seeded team, Detroit, only won 50 games. The Spurs were also lucky that Detroit was upset by the second-seeded Nets.

In 2004-05, the Spurs were lucky that Phoenix key player Joe Johnson missed most of the Western conference finals with a fractured orbital bone. The Spurs were lucky to face the second-seeded team from the East, Detroit, in the NBA finals.

In 2006-07, the Spurs probably had more luck than in any of their other previous “championship” years. They were lucky that they did not face Dallas in the playoffs, as the Mavs were the top seed in the West and had knocked the Spurs out of the playoffs in 2005-06.

In Game One of the real NBA finals against the Suns, the Spurs were lucky that Phoenix guard Steve Nash missed most of the last minute of the game with a bloody cut on his nose. When Nash went out, the Suns were only down by two points, and he had scored the team’s previous seven points. By the time Nash returned, the Spurs were winning by four points with only nine seconds left.
In Game 3, the Spurs were lucky in having key officiating calls go their way against Phoenix, as Tim Donaghy, who was caught in a gambling scandal, was one of the refs. The Spurs were lucky that the NBA commissioner’s office took away Phoenix’s momentum after the Suns won Game 4 to tie the series by suspending two key players, Stoudemire and Diaw, for going on the court during an altercation, even though Stoudemire and Diaw did not get near the altercation. The Spurs were lucky that Duncan, who went on the court during another near altercation in the same Game 4, was not suspended. The Spurs were lucky that they only had to play Utah in the Western conference finals and Cleveland in the NBA finals, rather than top-seeded Dallas and Detroit, which were both upset in the playoffs.

For more on refuting the Spurs as dynasty myth, see