Every team that became an NBA dynasty has at least one special trait about them. What is it for the San Antonio Spurs?
The Bill Russell Boston Celtics: Intelligent
Probably the most celebrated center of the 1960s was Wilt Chamberlain. His stats are hard to argue with. Yet in the end it was Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics who blew him away with 11 championships including eight in a row. How did they do it? By always being two or three steps ahead of the competition. Russell, along with point guard Bob Cousy were among the smartest players of their era, knowing which situations called for what. On top of that, their head coach Red Auerbach was a master at teaching fundamentals like passing and defense, never mind his knack for intimidation (smoking cigar before game is over) and talent acquisition (traded All-Stars Ed Macauley and Cliff Hagan for Russell).
The Magic Johnson Los Angeles Lakers: Talent
To understand why they were so good is quite simple: the Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s were simply the most talented team. That is the only way they could’ve beaten Dr. J’s Philadelphia 76ers, Larry Bird’s Boston Celtics and Isaiah Thomas’ Detroit Pistons all in the same decade. It started with Kareem Abdul-Jabarr in the middle, the leading NBA scorer of all time and went on to Magic Johnson at point and James Worthy at forward. That is three Hall of Fame players in the starting lineup. That doesn’t even include a veteran Bob McAdoo (Hall of Fame) who helped during their early run and the suffocating All Defensive beast that was Michael Cooper. It’s no wonder they were so hard to beat.
The Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls: Clutch
Many factors contributed to what made the Chicago Bulls so great in the 1990s. Of course having the best player of all time in Michael Jordan didn’t hurt but perhaps what made them so amazing, aside from talent, effort and consistency was a buzzword that really became attached to their legacy: clutch. No team in the annals of NBA history was better at tearing the heart out of opponents at the buzzer quite like Chicago.
Jordan naturally is best remembered for this from his dagger against Cleveland in 1989 to the swan song against Utah in 1998. However, the team had other moments from Jon Paxson sinking a clutch three in 1993 that won their third-straight title to Steve Kerr draining huge jumper in 1997 to corral their fifth. It was a testament to their ability to play under pressure, which is why that team never lost a Finals.
The Tim Duncan San Antonio Spurs: Versatility
One might say longevity is the word that should be associated with the San Antonio Spurs dynasty. While the Russell Celtics ran off 11 in 13 seasons, the Spurs of Tim Duncan won five across a span of 14 years. However, the word describes why they were able to do that is the primary reason. That is versatility. Like any other dynasty, San Antonio had its core players, but unlike others that core and really the entire roster changes from championship to championship. In 1999 it was Duncan and David Robinson running the show. In 2003 that had changed to the now familiar Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
That doesn’t include their knack for balancing a brilliant string of role players from veterans like Jerome Kersey, Steve Smith, and Glenn Robinson to properly developed draft picks like Tiago Splitter and Kawhi Leonard. The point is they always find the right players at the right time to fit their system, which has reeled off winning seasons for ages despite being in a historically tough conference. That is their mark of greatness in the modern era of basketball.