Records are meant to be broken. For a long time, Oscar Robertson’s triple-double season was considered untouchable until Russell Westbrook showed up. James Harden took more threes than most teams in NBA history. Unthinkable often does happen.
We consider LeBron’s move to Miami the tipping point in player empowerment and team building. But, before LeBron revolutionized the player – team dynamic, and said his “not one, not two, not three,” there were other teams that seemed subscribed to win championships.
Shaq changed the balance of power when he decided to sign a seven-year contract with the Lakers in 1996. He had a great point guard in Penny Hardaway back in Orlando but decided to move to the West Coast and set a foundation that would later be the first step in creating one of the most dominant Lakers eras – the Shaq and Kobe duo.
Drafting Kobe wasn’t the only move that made the superteam happen. In 1999 the Lakers hired Phil Jackson as their coach. He implemented the triangle and brought all his Chicago experience in managing big egos and implementing a system. Upon his arrival, Jackson told Shaq “the [NBA’s] MVP trophy should be named after him when he retired.”
The Lakers proceeded to win 4 out of 5 championships, with the Spurs title in 2003 being the only season they didn’t win from 2000 to 2005. Just as Jordan and the Bulls got six rings in the previous decade, and everyone thought no one would come close, the Lakers were dominating the league under Phil Jackson. Confidence was on an all-time high.
Shaq almost had to kiss Gregg Popovich’s feet in the second part of the ’00, but the Spurs “only” got to the Finals three out of five years (’03, ’05 and ’07). He wasn’t so lucky recently. The Warriors went 5 for 5 in Finals appearances giving Steve Kerr the right to call up Shaq and ask what kind of cheese did he have in mind.
We can learn a few things from this:
1. The NBA usually has a dominant team or two that everyone else is chasing.
2. Unrepeatable things most often happen again in a somewhat different form.
3. The internet remembers everything.
So, be careful with your Twitter and Instagram posts and enjoy the era of duos.