As I was doing some long over due Spring cleaning I came across this printed article, "Teams need more than talent to win title", written by Kenny Smith in 2008. Now before you hit the back button remember that Smith was surprisingly a major contributor to two Championship teams, so he does have some credibility here.
The purpose of this post and what I will attempt to do is try and make sense of Kenny's thoughts and create my own Championship checklist based off his list, actual history and mine own bias. Then we'll go from there.
NOTE: This post isn't as long as it looks with all the pictures and quotes and crap.
1. Style of play: A team should have a defined style. Are they a halfcourt team or a fastbreak team? Are they defensive oriented?
A team needs a defined style, so when things aren’t going well the players can return to the system’s set principles.
Agreed. This one is pretty obvious. I was so naive to think the 2008 Suns could win a Championship.
2. A quality point guard and an inside presence: Having an inside-out game is what gets you easy baskets.
By "quality", I think he means "good enough". Yes, every contender needs that. Even Derrick Fisher was a quality PG when it counted the most. Same goes for an inside presence. However, it seems like he's specifically referring to a big-man who you can throw the ball to and expect to get you some easy points. I disagree there. Unless he's including Rodman's ability to box out, set screens and keep the defenders out of the way as Jordan and Pippen roll onto for the easy bucket or kick out to guys like Kerr and Kukoc... then I suppose that does count as an inside-out game. So yeah, an inside-out game is a must, it just isn't limited to a scoring big-man.
3. A superstar: Not a really good player. You need a superstar, a potential Hall of Fame player. Someone who can take over a game.
4. A beast: This doesn’t necessarily have to be your most talented player, though it usually is. You want a player who doesn’t panic when things go bad. A player that takes the big shot or makes the key defensive play. Someone with enough experience to steady the team when the pressure rises.
Alright, so we can pretty much just lump most of this in with #3. It's odd though. His definition of "beast" is completely different from mine. When I think of a beast I think of explosive guys like Shaq, Lebron, Amar'e... dudes who can put up 30+ on any given night and require triple teams. The part that I bold'ed is what stands out to me the most here and I'll just split that up into two different categories for my list.
5. A great bench: You need guys who can come in the game and change the momentum. And if you don’t have anyone who’s even close to being Sixth Man of the Year, you better be wary.
I did some research and it appears that many, though not all of the past Champions had a player who could be a Sixth Man. I don't think they have to be in the conversation for the award to be close like he's saying. I mean look at Frye in 2009-10. Would you not consider him a 6th man even though he wasn't in the conversation? Gentry thought he was. Regardless, contenders need a great bench. That doesn't mean it has to be deep. Our 07 bench was great even though it consisted of only 3 players. Same could be said about the Lakers bench in 2010.
6. Adversity: There is a point in every championship season when the team vows to play harder, smarter and, most importantly, play together. That usually results from adversity and it happens in a variety of ways: an upsetting loss, a players-only meeting, a trade or an injury to a key player.
No argument here.
7. A magic moment: This often follows adversity. Pulling out an important victory when you’re about to lose. A shot that goes in from halfcourt. A record-breaking winning streak.
We've had some of those in recent times: January 28th, 2010, Amar'e dunking on Tolliver, beating Thunder without Nash, Stuffin Bayless, Dragic destroying the Spurs... We were just one short. Teams need more then one magic moment to win the title. In fact, the team that gets the most usually if not always, wins. We could just replace those three words with this one word called, "luck". However, when people refer to luck they mostly refer to it in such a negative way. "Magic moment" kind of feels well...majestic, does it not? It's a more positive way of looking at it. Although, it also sounds extremely cheesy, so I'm just gonna go with luck.
8. Chemistry: There doesn’t have to be a love fest going on in the locker room, but championship teams need to have players who respect each other and their coach. A team that respects itself is a team that grows.
Alrighty then, here is my list:
1. Defined Style (on-court chemistry)
2. Respect (locker-room chemistry)
3. Hall of Famer- This player usually fills the playmaker role.
4. Leadership- He kind of mentioned this with #4, but I felt it deserved it's own category.
5. Balance- an efficient offense and defense (usually, a rim protector is essential). It doesn't really matter what the style is. Contenders just need to be able to get the job done on both ends of the floor.
6. Great Bench
7. Inside-out Game
8. Good Coach- I'm surprised he didn't include this. I loved Coach D, but if he wasn't so stubborn we would have had a title. Gentry is a better coach. He got just as far as Pringles did with less talent against superior competition.
9. Toughness- all teams go through adversity, but it's the tough ones that pull through it.
10. Multiple play-makers- another player to take pressure off of the star player and make some plays.
11. Age- There comes a point when great teams are too old to achieve the ultimate goal. Experience is a huge factor too.
12. High Basketball IQ- not every contributor on the team needs to have this, but there needs to be a balance.
There you have it. There are the 12 keys every contender needs to win the title and no that wasn't by design. I completely winged it and I've succeeded just like I said I would. Now since I did all the work, maybe you guys can go through our past contenders, unrepress some repressed memories and figure out why the Phoenix Suns didn't win the Championship those years? What exactly on my list did they not have?
Now If you believe my list to be a fraud (as if I actually have something to gain from this) or to be complete barnacles, then I propose a challenge; Come up with a better one you jerk.