It began in 1996 with a David Robinson injury. As heartbroken as the San Antonio Spurs and their fans were, they had no idea how a bad situation would change the course of their franchise forever. Without Robinson leading the charge, the Spurs would go on to finish the season 20-62, earning the No.1. pick in the draft which resulted in Tim Duncan. The next year they would lose in the Western Conference Semifinals but what transpired after that, has been nothing short of historic. Thanks in large part to the greatness of Gregg Popovich.
When mentioning the word Dynasty, many tend to link it to championships. Since most sports fans measure a player, coach or team by their rings then how do you view the Spurs and Popovich?
It’s so easy to go by the numbers and type the championships, MVP, and clutch moments. However, there’s more to their story as to why many view them as the greatest.
With any mention of Dynasty, you will often get the argument of the Bill Russell-led Boston Celtics, the Chicago Bulls of the Michael Jordan era, The Larry Bird Celtics, the Magic Johnson Lakers and the Shaq and Kobe Lakers. Each of those teams was good but we can honestly eliminate the Shaq and Kobe teams. They had a great run for 4 years. However, that’s not long enough to place the Dynasty tag on a franchise. Likewise for the Miami Heat with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Just not enough years put in.
The Larry Bird led Celtics had a great run from 1981-87 with three championships, however, two things will go against them. One was the size of the league. The NBA today has 30 while Bird and the Celtics, including themselves, were 23 strong. And the second was Free Agency. While neither was their fault, the truth is still the truth. The Russell-led Celtics can say the same. The league was much smaller then. Thus, teams managed to stay the course throughout one’s career. The Showtime Lakers fit in the same boat as Bird’s Celtics as they played in the same era.
The final team that leaves for supremacy are the Jordan Bulls.
Most will have the Bulls as their top team just on the strength of Jordan. But to be honest, those teams were a beauty to watch. What we saw with the Heat, Lakers, Warriors and Cavs, those 1991-93- 1996-98 Bulls been there, done that with no losses. But– free agency and money weren’t what it is today.
The San Antonio Spurs had to deal with all issues. Tim Duncan was good but he was not on Jordan’s level in terms of sheer dominance or excitement. He didn’t have the refs or crowds eating out his hands but what he did have was a coach who knew the game and the trust of his players. After one year together the Spurs led by Robinson and Duncan won a championship. Robinson retired and many figured so did the Spurs chances but this is why they are the greatest. Since 1997, Popovich and the Spurs have missed a total of zero playoff appearances. Yes, you read that correctly, they have gone to the playoffs 20 straight years. How many teams can say they hold that distinction?
It’s not all about the championships, but if it were then what about the 4 Pop won with Duncan and Parker or the three he won with Duncan/Tony Parker/ Manu Ginobili? There will be no team that completely dominates the NBA so there will be seasons where there is no victory parade. But that does not mean they can’t leave a mark. For the Spurs that mark has been consistency.
Since Duncan and Pop arrived, the San Antonio Spurs have not has a season with less than 50 wins (lockout year in 1988). Name another team that has had that type of success over such a period of time.
Point the finger at Phil Jackson as the greatest coach and I will throw Pop’s body of work at you.
Phil had the luxury of having Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Toni Kukoc, Shaq and Kobe during his reign. But Pop, Pop did it with the same three cast of characters with some unknown or forgotten players sprinkled in the roster. With the way that FA is set up, the Spurs were designed to fail. There was no way the NBA figured that Duncan/Parker/Ginobili would stay their entire careers with San Antonio. I guess they underestimated Pop and his ways.
20 years of sheer dominance with 5 championships to show for their hard work, loyalty, and dedication. I mean if you want to throw the six rings Jordan/Pippen/Jackosn won then you must also take notice of what happened when the winning stopped. The Spurs never stopped. Duncan retired, Parker lost a few steps and Ginobili was on his last leg. However, they still managed to win 61 games this season.
New faces have arrived in Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Dejounte Murray and Jonathon Simmons. Nevertheless, the Spurs have not shown signs of slowing their pace. Give praise to the players for performing like pros. Although you must tip your hat to the greatest coach of the greatest Dynasty in NBA history.