Posted on: January 6, 2009 1:34 pm

Championship Longevity - What it takes!

We all know defense is the key to winning a championship, this would be relevant in almost every major organized sport.  But does it stop there?  This is an answer to a very obvious question that it takes more then just a strong defense to win championship(s) in the NBA.  The premise of the game is to ultimately outscore your opponent and defense doesnt always help out in that category.  Notice I said championship(s), not just talking about a one hit wonder but contenders that can remain relevant throughout the years and put themselves in a position to compete for a title every year.  Offensive versatility is sometimes overlooked when describing a powerhouse and is overlooked because the significance of being a defensive orientated team seems to get most of the credit.

Take for example the powerhouses of the past who won multiple championships like the 80's Showtime Lakers, the Detroit Bad Boys, the 90's Bulls or even as recent as the Poppa Spurs or the Kobe/Shaq Lakers.  The Detroit Bad Boys were known for their physical play but they also had 2 standout scorers in Dumars and Thomas that were lights out from the perimter and could penetrate and create.  The 90's Bulls had one of the greatest scorers in the game and an all time top 50 player who could be known as Mr. Versatility.  The Gregg Poppa Spurs started with the Twin Towers of Robinson and Duncan and later featured one of the best guards in the game and one of the best international scorers in the game.  The common theme these teams shared were that they were also great defensive teams but often times their versatility on offense was overshadowed by the defensive prowess (maybe with the exception of the Bulls who featured MJ)

In regards to the Lakers, defense wasnt always the calling card for them but versatility was their brand in the 80's.  The Showtime style of play was difficult to defend especially given the type of players they had to run that offense but yet at the same time they were flexible enough to incorporate a half court game setting up Kareem and using his attributes.  Those Lakers also played good enough defense to get key stops when needed.  The 80's Showtime Lakers won 5 titles.  The Kobe/Shaq Lakers were a decent defensive team but was no defensive juggernaut either, in fact till this day even with change in personel the high pick and roll and perimeter defense has been their biggest weakness.  They would get burned by speedy gaurds on almost every possession.  Again the versartility of that Lakers team helped counter some of this, Shaq was an imovable force down low and Kobe was a prolific playmaker.  They also had sharp shooters and great versatile bench players that knew their roles.  The Kobe/Shaq Lakers won 3 titles.  Fast forward to this new Lakers era, although their defeciencies on defense have been highly publicized going back to last year's Finals, and is way over-blown.  Although they may play inconsistent defense, its not that they dont know how to play defense and know how and when to get stops.  The offensive versatility of this Lakers team allows them to have more then just a fighting chance against any defensive powerhouse.  Last year was not the best example to follow because they played without 2 key contributors in Andrew Bynum and Trevor Ariza.  The Lakers have more weapons all healthy at the same time that have to be accounted for at the same time, very similar to the 80's Lakers when you could'nt just keep your eye on Magic.  This Lakers team has had criticisms similar to the past Lakers team but those teams combined for 8 titles.  So its not always the sole reliance on defense that can earn championships.

The true essence of a dominant team is how many ways they can beat you and defense should be one of those weapons in their arsenal and not just the only deciding one.  Whether its out-running and out-gunning your opponents or its locking them down, a great team has to be able to adjust to any style, its like picking your poison.  In no way am I trying to downplay the importance of solid defensive play but just bringing to the fore-front that it takes more then that to have longevity and relevancy as a champion. 

Category: NBA
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