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Front Page » June 6, 2002 » Sports » The Sports View
Published 4,432 days ago

The Sports View


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sports writer

The NBA has finally reached the depths of it season; the final series of a very long year. But none-the-less here we are with the Los Angeles Lakers (no surprise what so ever) and the New Jersey Nets (refreshing to see a new name in the finals) playing for the title.

By the time you read this at least one game will have been played and my guess is that the Lakers will have won it.

Again we have a Laker team that will probably dominate and take another title, making for another dumb "three-peat" call from LA fans.

In the history of the NBA there have always been dynasties; it was seldom an open market. There were also many perennial bridesmaids, some of which are also the franchises that won the most titles. From the beginning of the league in 1946 to 1954 Minneapolis dominated the league, coincidentally the same franchise (Lakers) that has the winning ways today.

They won five of the nine titles those years largely because they had the only 7 foot plus center in the league, George Mikan.

Then came Boston who owns the distinction of having the most titles in a row, eight from 1959 to 1966. If you think you are sick of hearing about the Laker dynasty, just imagine being a fan of another team in those years. (Almost worse than that they didn't make it to the finals in 1967, but won two more championships in 1968 and 1969 making it 10 out of 11.

Since then no one has matched that feat, with the Lakers, Pistons and Rockets winning a couple in a row, and of course Chicago winning three from 1991-93 and then three more from 96-98.

Often there are dominant teams in sports and usually it has to do with certain players and coaches. People often talk about in the old days it had to do with loyalty and team spirit. They complain that today it only has to do with money.

I believe neither viewpoint is completely true. In the old days of the NBA, salaries were small compared with todays money (although making two or three times as much as a normal guy for playing basketball four months out of the year certainly was not a bad call) and the players were relative slaves to the teams that drafted them. Even the superstars had little room to wiggle; they could either play for who owned them or they didn't play at all. Teams basically had a monopoly on players and owners had deals with one another that if a player balked, he was, in a sense, black balled from ever playing again.

Obviously, today's contracts and free agency after so many years has changed things. Who can blame a player for going where more money is available? If you were working for $7 per hour and someone offered you $10 an hour wouldn't you take it? It takes an awful lot of loyalty to turn down more money for doing the same thing, often under better circumstances and sometimes with a better team.

There are exceptions to all of this. Howard Eisely and Shandon Anderson both learned that taking more money in what appeared to be better circumstances is always true. And of course there is John Stockton, who actually cut his salary so the Jazz could stay under the salary cap.

Dynasties these days are built by having great players and great coaches, the right chemistry on a team, and the money to hire and keep all of it together.

The way I see it, that's still better than having slave loyalty as it was in the old days, regardless of how much we dislike the way things are run in sports today.


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