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Phil Jackson wouldn’t call the Spurs a dynasty, but meant no disrespect

Apr 26, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT

Phil Jackson, James Dolan, executive chairman of the Madison Square Garden Company Phil Jackson, James Dolan, executive chairman of the Madison Square Garden Company

Phil Jackson met with the New York media last week to discuss the state of the Knicks, and in speaking about the possibility of Carmelo Anthony taking less money to re-sign there this summer, took what some perceived to be an inadvertent shot at the Spurs.

But really, he was just clarifying a technicality of how we should define the word “dynasty.”

Tim Duncan making the salary he’s making after being part of a dynasty — not a dynasty, I wouldn’t call San Antonio a dynasty — a force, a great force,” Jackson said, via the New York Daily News. “They haven’t been able to win consecutive championships, but they’ve always been there. San Antonio has had a wonderful run through Tim’s tenure there as a player. He’s agreed to take a salary cut so other players can play with him so they can be this good. And that’s the beginning of team play.”

This isn’t the younger version of Jackson the coach who had no issue trying to rile up an opponent with a jab through the media, so he wanted to make sure that no disrespect was perceived.

The Spurs and the Lakers are often debated as to which team dominated the last decade, with San Antonio winning three and a half titles (including the lockout-shortened ’99 season) while L.A. won five — three straight from 2000-2002, and back-to-back in the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

The Spurs have achieved great, great success under Popovich, and it’s been sustained much longer, with 17 consecutive playoff appearances. The Lakers, meanwhile, have been forced to experience a season or two of rebuilding mixed in here and there, and are currently in one of the more dire situations we’ve seen them face in quite some time.

It really wasn’t a shot at the Spurs. But in Phil’s eyes, the dynasty label in San Antonio simply does not apply.

  1. antistratfordian - Apr 26, 2014 at 6:43 PM

    The Spurs inability to successfully defend their titles should probably remove them from dynastic consideration. A dynasty team should be able to defend their title – hold on to it for a while.

    “You see, you know how to *take* the reservation, you just don’t know how to *hold* the reservation. And that’s really the most important part of the reservation: the holding. Anybody can just take them.”

    • adamsjohn714 - Apr 26, 2014 at 6:55 PM

      Sorry, Jerry. Anybody can’t just take a “reservation.”

      The whole conversation is semantics, really. I think the Spurs are a dynasty because they’ve been consistently one of the best teams in the NBA for 15+ years. The Shaq led Lakers were a dynasty, but that ended when he left. The Bulls of the 90s were a dynasty, but that ended when the players split up and they were lousy for a while. The Spurs, as an organization, don’t have down years. They don’t have a guy in the top 50 in salary per year, and they don’t play heavy superstar minutes either.

      This doesn’t detract from the Bulls/Lakers. It’s merely a different type of success.

      • sportsfan18 - Apr 26, 2014 at 7:17 PM

        I get and agree with your point…

        But Tony Parker’s salary was the 37th most in the NBA this past season at $12.5 million so you can’t say they didn’t have a salary in the top 50…

        None in the top 35…

        Duncan was #53 in salary this past season…

      • adamsjohn714 - Apr 26, 2014 at 7:19 PM

        Good catch. I should’ve looked it up. Thanks for keeping me honest.

      • antistratfordian - Apr 26, 2014 at 7:19 PM

        They haven’t won consistently though. They’ve been as inconsistent as a defending champion can be in the playoffs. They have an underachieving streak in them. That’s the whole point, I think.

        The 50 game threshold is arbitrary. How many times they’ve won that many games consecutively is essentially meaningless when they keep losing in the first round. They won 54 games, a top 3 seed, and lost in the first round and then followed that up by winning 61 games, the top seed, and again losing in the first round. And here they are again, a 62 win team with the top seed, down 2-1 in the first round.

        What kind of dynasty does that? A dynasty is made of sterner stuff.

      • kinggw - Apr 26, 2014 at 9:17 PM

        I respectfully disagree. Being consistently one of the best teams in the NBA for the last 15+ years doesn’t make you a dynasty. The Pistons made six consecutive ECFs. That doesn’t make them a dynasty.

        Both the Lakers and Bulls three-peated and are rightfully recognized as dynasties. As naterich21 pointed out below the Spurs have never even made a repeat trip to the Finals. The Spurs currently have one of the best runs in professional sports. They are a wonderfully run organization, and that still doesn’t make them a dynasty. The rules don’t change for the Spurs.

      • adamsjohn714 - Apr 26, 2014 at 9:23 PM

        A dynasty in the NBA doesn’t have a set definition. See the word “semantics” in my previous post. There aren’t really rules to pin down what is considered a dynasty by different people. What makes up a dynasty hasn’t been codified, voted upon, and ratified. Hence, opinions.

        So, winning the most games in the past 15 years and doing something no NBA team in history has ever done does make you a dynasty.

      • fanofthegame79 - Apr 26, 2014 at 10:24 PM

        Sorry adamsjohn, the Spurs are a wonderfully-ran organization, not to mention the model of consistency. But the article defines the use of dynasty by winning consecutive titles. What the Spurs have done would be like Cal Ripkin Jr.’s Ironman record. This takes nothing away from the Spurs, as Jackson states, but by using consecutive titles as the definition of a dynasty, the Spurs are not one.

      • adamsjohn714 - Apr 26, 2014 at 10:26 PM

        well I disagree with Jackson’s definition of a dynasty. He’s obviously got a little skin in the game.

      • fanofthegame79 - Apr 26, 2014 at 10:31 PM

        True, but with just about everything being arbitrary (50-win seasons equals success), he provided a definition. And if we use the true definition of the word (a sequence of rulers from the same family, stock, or group), there has to be some kind of back to back “ruling”…we don’t talk about the Ming Dynasty having ruled for one year…some other family comes along and takes over….then the Ming family comes back the year after that (lather, rinse, repeat). What we talk about is the Ming Dynasty ruling over China for years and years consecutively.

      • adamsjohn714 - Apr 26, 2014 at 10:37 PM

        In that case the word dynasty is entirely senseless here. The NBA champions don’t get to dictate policy or set the rules. They don’t command an army or dominate the political landscape. But you can see where this argument is going……..

      • antistratfordian - Apr 27, 2014 at 2:22 AM

        “So, winning the most games in the past 15 years and doing something no NBA team in history has ever done does make you a dynasty.”

        Nothing that happens in the regular season contributes to the formation of a dynasty. Nothing. It’s all about the postseason.

        Similar to what Jerry Seinfeld was saying about taking reservations… *any* championship team can lose the title the next year. That’s just about the easiest thing a championship team can do. Only the most special teams – the dynasties – are able to defend it multiple times.

      • adamsjohn714 - Apr 27, 2014 at 2:43 AM

        But when that core of players leaves, the dynasty is over.

        So the Spurs are an organizational dynasty. They consistently give themselves the best chance to win in the postseason. They’ve had a bite at the apple every year. They’ve done that via consistent excellence during the regular season and gaining home court advantage in as many series as possible.

        Are those back to back Houston teams in the 90s a better dynasty than the Spurs? I contend that you don’t have to win it every year to be a great team. The small sample sizes of the playoffs are pretty noisy from a mathematical standpoint. Injuries can play a big role, etc. The Thunder got ridiculously hot during that 4 game stretch a couple years ago.

        And they’ve won a few rings (the ONLY thing that matters, apparently) during this stretch.

      • antistratfordian - Apr 27, 2014 at 4:08 AM

        They’ve been a good-to-very-good team for a while – but that doesn’t make them a dynasty. Why can’t we just say, “hey, they’ve been pretty good for a long time”…?

        You know, Jackson actually hit the nail on the head… by definition, you have to rule in sequence to be a dynasty. No one “rules” anything in the regular season, so that shouldn’t even apply. However good they’ve been in the regular season is irrelevant, as we’re seeing again this year.

        We would have to reduce the previous requirements for dynasty status in order to allow the Spurs to join the group. That would mean reducing the significance of back-to-back or 3-peat titles (good luck convincing the public of that) – because the Spurs haven’t even been to back-to-back finals, let alone win anything in back-to-back seasons.

      • casualcommenter - Apr 27, 2014 at 3:25 AM

        It’s really not complicated. The literal definition of the word dynasty is an uninterrupted line or “succession” of rulers. Go look up the word if that’s unclear to you.

        Only 1 team “rules” over all the other teams in any sport, and it’s the champion. Period.
        There’s no flexibility in that definition – the Heat are the reigning champions over everybody in the NBA unless some other team claims the “crown” this year. There’s no “dynasty” of “Second-in-Commands” or “Third-in-Commands” in world history, only the most powerful people form a dynasty.

        The Spurs have been the reigning champions 4 times in the past 17 years, and each time, they fell from power within a year. They never made it beyond the Western Conference Finals after winning a championship, meaning they never established in consecutive years that they were the best team in the Western Conference, much less the best team in the NBA.

        In effect, they ruled the NBA on average once every 4 years for the past 17 years. That’s not a dynasty. That’s a “reign” that’s regularly interrupted…which does not fit the definition of dynasty at all.

      • adamsjohn714 - Apr 27, 2014 at 4:41 AM

        If you want to go buy literal definitions, Webster, then there’s no such thing as a dynasty in the NBA. It’s not a literal concept….

  2. Professor Fate - Apr 26, 2014 at 6:49 PM

    S.A. won four, L.A. won five. Together they dominated the decade. I would describe both as dynasties.

    • jimeejohnson - Apr 26, 2014 at 8:36 PM

      That’s why you’re a professor. Not sure about the fate part unless you are a fan of the Celtics.

  3. mrhonorama - Apr 26, 2014 at 6:53 PM

    Anyone who misunderstood Phil’s comments is hypersensitive.

  4. jimsjam33 - Apr 26, 2014 at 6:55 PM

    The Celtics were a dynasty . The Lakers were a dynasty . U.C.L.A. was a dynasty …..There have been no others in the sport of basketball ! Sorry Charlie , but the Spurs and the Jordan Bulls don’t qualify .

  5. genericcommenter - Apr 26, 2014 at 7:28 PM

    I don’t think there is a “1/2 title.”

    • casualcommenter - Apr 27, 2014 at 3:39 AM

      Agreed. Nobody even somewhat knowledgeable about basketball refers to the Spurs’ first title or the Heat’s 2012 title as “half” titles despite shortened regular seasons.

      The playoffs are the main thing that matters in determining a champion, and the playoffs in those years were full length, so they’re full championships.

  6. naterich21 - Apr 26, 2014 at 8:12 PM

    Believe it or not, the Spurs haven’t even made it out of the West twice in a row.

    • jimeejohnson - Apr 26, 2014 at 8:37 PM

      I don’t believe it.

  7. coolkidchris - Apr 27, 2014 at 1:08 AM

    If we’re going to be technical about the true definition of a dynasty which implies a “succession of rulers,” then there really has not been a true dynasty in nba history.

    • ProBasketballPundit - Apr 27, 2014 at 7:41 PM

      Nice technicality. Fighting fire with fire worked!

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