Are the 2015-16 San Antonio Spurs the best Roster ever assembled?
First off, let´s start with the “competition” :
Showtime Lakers: The 80´s Lakers are, according to many NBA erudites, the quintessential basketball team, combining pure magic and fun with great results. Back then, Lakers creativity delivered most of the times, getting 5 titles out of 8 NBA Finals between 1980 and 1989. LA ruled in the eighties. Kareem Abdul Jabbar and his unblockable shot, the sky hook, still brings bad memories to many of his opponents. Magic ran the show like a true maestro making other teams look like they came from a lower league. Big game James Worthy, Byron Scott, Kurt Rambis, Bob Mcadoo, Michael Cooper, etcetera, provided unique basketball moments.
Bird´s Celtics: Larry Bird, Mchale, Parish, Danny Ainge, Dennis Johnson, amongst others, were the only true rivals of the Lakers in the 80´s. Generally regarded as the epitome of team basketball, these Celtics teams with their low key, 5 versus 5 mid-court play, slow tempo of the game, made the battles with the Showtime Lakers a fascinating contrast of styles. Although they were not as successful as the Lakers, they still won 3 titles out of 5 NBA Finals. The recurrent physical and mental duels between Magic and Bird went directly to the history of the game as one of the biggest rivalries the NBA has ever seen. In the Finals they went head to head the Lakers had the advantage, conquering 3 victories against one. Nevertheless, the 80´s Celtics stand the test of time as one of the best teams ever, mixing their players superb technique with the concept of team basketball and hard defense.
Jordan´s Bulls: After many years learning the hard way – taking regular beatings from the Bad Boys and being criticized as an egotistic player who would never lead his team to a Championship – the GOAT Michael Jordan managed to get “only” 6 out of 6 Championships. The Bulls were the dominant team of the 90´s with the Jordan/Pippen combo proving to be too much to handle. The highest demonstration of force from the Bulls happened on the 1995-96 season. A showcase of sublime dominance with an impressive regular season record of 72 wins and 10 losses.
Bill Russel Celtics: Althouh Bill Russel is the ultimate Lord of the NBA Rings, his team, although quite dominant, didn´t experience the level of difficulty of other teams. On Bill Russel era the Championship was played with less teams, hence making the “cut” to the discussion of best team ever not realistic.
All teams considered, are the 2015-2016 Spurs able to prove they are the best team ever assembled? Better than Magic Showtime Lakers? Better than Bird´s Celtics? Even better than the 72-10 record breaking Bulls?
Firstly, we should start with the obvious: the Spurs present 3 guaranteed HOF´s in Duncan, Parker and Ginobili, plus the possibility of adding to this honour the names of K.Leonard and L.Aldridge, who seems to be the natural heir of Duncan´s throne in San Antonio. Therefore we can be watching a team play next season with 5 future HOF´s. Now that is something else!
Secondly, what other team has the privilege of playing at the same time with 3 different players who were NBA Finals MVP ? (Duncan, Parker and Leonard). One of them is even considered by many pundits as the most complete and best Power Forward in the history of the game – Tim Duncan.
Thirdly, the bench of San Antonio is as deep as they come, with unbelievable talent: Diaw, David West (former All-Star player), Danny Green, Patty Mills, Matt Bonner, Kyle Anderson (Summer League MVP), plus the productive veterans Andre Miller and Kevin Martin.
Fourthly, we have to mention the genius of Popovich, regarded by many as one of the 4 best NBA coaches ever, alongside “Red” Auerbach, Pat Riley and Phil Jackson.
Last but not least, what to say about the trademark Spurs style of play where everyone knows his role and where there is no space for drama or “ball hogs” ? Spurs basketball became synonym of extra passes, excellent basketball IQ and always, ALWAYS, making the best possible play for the best possible shot. Basically no one really cares about the stat sheet, who scored the most points or got more rebounds.
With all these factors considered, the NBA Scholar has to admit we may be in for a special treat next season. 3 Future HOF´s (maybe extended to 5 with L.Aldridge and Leonard), 3 NBA Finals MVP´s, a bulletproof bench, a legendary coach and a unique and successful style of play are all the ingredients necessary for a very special basketball season.
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