Back to back, Three-peat, eleven titles in thirteen season…the tag lines of dynasties past. Now days the power structure in the NBA shifts nearly every year. The Larry O’Brien trophy has been raised by five different teams in six years and none of them consecutive. The Spurs are undoubtedly the team of the decade but they’re best days are definitely behind them and although the Lakers and Celtics possess many of the pieces necessary to build a dynasty they’re both working against the clock among other factors. The Let us look ahead to the future of the NBA and to what must come to pass for a dynasty to reign supreme. We will examine the new face of the league and his team, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers
1. No ifs ands or buts, we want to win NOW and we want to win for a LONG TIME!
This seems like a given but believe it or not there are some individuals and organizations in the NBA (we won’t use any names) who have higher priorities than winning championships. There cannot be a doubt in the mind of any individual working at nearly any level of what the true goal here is, and that is to win multiple championships. This goal must be commonly known and pursued by one and all because it simply is not going to happen any other way, especially not in basketball.
The extremely successful Southwest Airlines has a common goal, to be the lowest cost airline out there (while not putting anyone in danger of course), and because it is widely known and understood all the way through the organization employees on every level can make the right decision because they know exactly what the CFO would do if asked the same question; the lowest cost safest choice. This is imperative to the success of a large organization with many moving parts, a unified cause and a common goal and through this everyone prospers. The Cavaliers have a win now mentality, partially because of the pressure Lebron applies with his ambiguous responses about his impending free agency, but they also have a long time strategy (four of their starting five are 26 or younger). Most important of all is that everyone in the organization is of high character, commitment, and keep their eyes on the prizes!
2. The right men for the jobs, top to bottom…
It starts at the top, no question. The Cavaliers are now owned by Dan Gilbert a forty-seven year old mortgage maverick with seemingly endless resources (Cleveland had the 2nd highest payroll going into last season) who is like a less harmful version of Mark Cuban. Gilbert used to intern in the Cavaliers telecaster program while in school and is highly committed to the success of this team. They’re general manager and trade wizard the longtime Cavalier Danny Ferry has developed a knack for digging out diamonds in the rough for virtually nothing in return, trading for all-star guard Mo Williams for Damon Jones a “shooter” who averaged 19.9 min and 6.5 points in 07-08.
The head coach Mike Brown has more to prove than the general public really understands having never played in the NBA and starting out as a video coordinator turned NBA coach of the year and he would be the first African American coach to lead a dynasty. He began his assistant coaching career under Greg Poppovich and helped the Spurs win the 03′ title, and since has amassed a head coach record of 211-117 (.643) regular season record. Whether or not Brown will be the man to lead the Cavaliers to the promised land or whether he is player Doug Collins has yet to be seen but simply put he’s under as much or more pressure than anyone in this organization to win it all, either way he’ll do for now…for long term….depends on the alternative.
The role of leader and centerpiece is probably the soundest position in the organization, LeBron James is probably the second best leader in the NBA and I say second only because Tim Duncan has the rings and LeBron has none however that’ll eventually change. In 2008 when LeBron led the “Redeem Team” to the Gold medal in Beijing with other superegos like Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, and Carmelo Anthony in line it took his leadership abilities to a new level. His unprecedented praise and acclamations along with the overall success of the team (#1 overall in 2008-2009) mixed with his refreshing way of remaining mostly humble is just what the doctor (Stern) ordered. The basketball public were swept away by the spectacle that is Michael Jordan, but eventually developed a bitter taste for show boaters like Shaquille and Kobe so having a guy who possess the same or more appeal as those megastars but with the general humility of Tim Duncan is a godsend to the league and to his potential dynasty in the making. Another must is a top 5 all-time *blank* (if Shaq were 10 years younger this would not be a conversation), the Spurs have a 10 all-time sixth man in Manu Gnobli, the Lakers had a top 5 all-time shooting guard in Kobe Bryant, and Michael obviously had a top 5 all-time small forward in Scottie Pippen. This player must be complementary to the center piece (Duncan, Shaq, and Jordan) and must be able to overwhelm the defense in the absence of the centerpiece for a stretch or particular play.
Many speculate that Chris Bosh or Amare Stoudemire would be there perfect fit and would ultimately provide Batman with his Robin however I speculate that even with the addition of such a player more changes may be necessary. For instance, perhaps moving Mo Williams to the bench to scorch the opponents second unit would give the Cavs their top 5 all-time sixth man or maybe it would take a Dwyane Wade, a top 5 shooting guard for sure, to compliment LeBron? Either way a big piece is missing from this dynasty blueprint. The Cavs are in no shortage of role players which are vitally necessary to dynasties (Derek Fisher, Robert Horry, Horace Grant, etc) however like these big names they need a bench captain or primary role player to emerge to provide the second unit with a visual/vocal leader when their two stars are on the bench. All dynasties have a bench captain and star role player and it has yet to be established on this Cavalier team.
3. I’d rather be lucky than good, the 2003 NBA draft lottery…
I’d say luck started to smile the Cavaliers way that warm May night in Secaucus, N.J. when the Cleveland won the first overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft. In doing so they won the rights to draft the high school phenom deemed “The Chosen One” who was already a national celebrity from a city only 30 miles out of Cleveland. You can also go as far to speculate that given the up coming “Summer of LeBron” in 2010 and given James’ close friendship with a few of the stars who will be free to roam wherever they so choose luck may be warming up to the Cavaliers yet again. It doesn’t hurt that Cleveland is in the eastern conference, it’s not as easy to win 66 games in an uber competetive western conference. The world follows cycles, what goes up must come down, the sun soon follows the rain, and Cleveland’s professional sports title drought is likely to end sometime and the Cavaliers might be on the verge of opening a floodgate but to do so luck is a must!
Cleveland has 2 of the three boxes checked in this scenario and they’re really only a player or two from sheer league dominance, but they like everyone else are working against the clock. Not because their pillars are aging, like the Spurs, Celtics, and even the Lakers, but because their dreams and doom rest with the guy (LBJ) who can walk away if he so chooses. It is highly unlikely since the Cavs are a top 5 team and are defense first which wins championship(s), and it doesn’t hurt that it’s basically his home town. But these Cavs are starting to warm up and it wouldn’t surprise me to see some very interesting things happen to their roster over the next two seasons…with the right moves and a little luck this team could live forever in basketball folklore with the dynasties that came before them.