Dynastically Unsound: Part I

Dynasty In Question

Today Project Spurs will be looking back at the Spurs’ title run beginning in 1999 and ending in 2007.

Many say the Spurs’ championship run places them among the great NBA dynasties, while others say the Spurs’ championship run should not be considered a dynasty. To discuss this topic, Jordan Rivas and Lance Fell will present you their reasons the Spurs should be considered a dynasty and why they shouldn’t.

First will be Jordan Rivas to state the reasons why the Spurs winning the NBA title in 1999, 2003, 2005, and 2007 does not place the franchise among the great NBA dynasties.

The sports world has co-opted a term it doesn’t understand. Talk radio and sports columnists have independently elected to riddle themselves in conjecture. They are content – some are even enamored with the idea – to substitute logic and definition for bias and subjectivity. Not satisfied with holding command over issues of sound opinion, they have opted to ascend to lofty Adamic proportions, naming whatever they choose, however they like. With pedantic demeanor and resolve amusingly, albeit obnoxiously, built of ignorance, they have re-purposed and brazenly redefined words plucked seemingly at random from the English language, with little regard for reality in their defining process.

duncan_bannersThe odd adoption, and ridiculous re-imagining, of the word ‘dynasty’ within the sports world holds no more validity than if I chose to select the noun ‘cupcake’, and assert that its definition is someone who wears a funny hat, but only on Sundays.

Sports media and clever marketing have led us to believe that the term “dynasty” is a malleable thing, that its definition is subject to debate and susceptible to change at the whim of whichever ESPN commentator holds the most clout or whichever blogger has the highest view count.

As the Zhou dynasty clearly demonstrates, a true dynasty, historically speaking, leaves itself no room to be questioned.

The application for the Spurs’ admission into dynastic company reads unconvincingly. Immediately numbers jump out at you, like a haphazard grade school math problem, they read: ’99, ’03, ’05, ’07. The pattern is a telling one, and easily recognizable: the Spurs have never won consecutive championships.

In the gaps, years where the Spurs have not won titles, the story is most potent. They were ousted in the first round of the 2000 playoffs a year after their initial title win. They were embarrassingly swept out of the Conference Finals by the rival Lakers in 2001. Most recently, in 2008, the Spurs only won one game against the Lakers before again being denied a chance at repeating. If any part of the past decade could truly be called a Spurs dynasty, they would have to simultaneously be considered the most often humiliated dynasty in history.

Even the casual analysis of the last decade shows a distinct lack of unwavering dominance from the Spurs. The carefully applied execution of their fundamentally sound schemes took hold over the NBA in spurts, not stretches. Outside of a highly loyal South Texas fan base, even the casual NBA fans finds the titling of the Spurs as a dynasty a point of contention, not an accepted truth. The branding of the Spurs as a dynasty is often met with sound skepticism, at best entertained as an intriguing discussion on the effect of free agency and the salary cap, but almost never accepted outright.

Emphatic as Spurs fans might be, few others would agree that the Spurs are a dynasty. However inclined Spurs fans might be to declare themselves right, and the rest of the basketball world wrong, their assertion would lack a distinct sign of sound logic, that a majority of people lean in its direction.

If I, for example, were to claim that I am the world’s greatest writer, however sure of it I am, if no one else agrees with me I would come off looking silly.

The further examination of the Spurs’ qualifications as a dynasty reveals more peculiar occurrences.

First, let’s establish that the run being considered for dynasty status took place between 1999 and 2007, a span of eight seasons. The Spurs have not won a title in two seasons, and seem highly unlikely to change that this season. Considering that eight year span between ’99 and ’07, let’s look at some of these peculiarities.

In a span of eight years the Spurs totaled four titles. Meaning that during this run they were only the best team in the league half of the time. Shouldn’t a dynasty be dominant all of the time? Considering the word has been stripped of any real meaning, its a hard question to answer. Even on the less demanding spectrum, however, couldn’t we expect a dynasty to at least reign more than half of the time? Those who support calling the Spurs’ run a dynasty want to claim one hundred percent of an era even though the Spurs were only on top of the league fifty percent of the time.

Most notably, and most damning, is that during the ’99-’07 stretch, an odd thing happened – an entirely different, and more clearly verifiable, dynasty occurred: that of the Los Angeles Lakers. From the 2000 season through the 2002 season the Lakers won three consecutive titles, shutting out the Spurs for that time and etching their own name in league history.

For Spurs dynasty supporters that leaves a gut wrenching question: did two dynasties run during the same period of time? Did another dynasty happen in the middle of the supposed Spurs dynasty?

Allow me to assure you, that is impossible.

If we’re going to hold the term in any regard, if any semblance of its former meaning is to remain intact, the term dynasty must remain historically exclusive to only one holder during any one stretch of time.

If you’re going to define the Spurs’ run from ’99-’07 as a dynasty, then you must also definitively prove that the Lakers’ run from ’00-’02 is not a dynasty. Sirs and madams, if you can do that, then you will have exclusively captured my full attention as I await for you to deliver, from your magical bag of conjectures, the definitive proof that two physical objects may occupy the same physical space and that air molecules may be alchemized into solid gold.

In these matters, and in the larger issue of debate at hand, I eagerly await your rebuttals.