Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Part 1 - Anatomy of a Champion: 1989-2009


What makes a champion a champion? Or more accurately, who?

In thinking about this question, I thought about the players on the championship teams I’ve seen in my lifetime (since the 1989 champion Detroit Pistons were the first team I ever saw playing the sport, I think this is more than appropriate). What I discovered was that, while players varied by ability, age, and position, many of the same roles seemed to apply whether in the late ‘80s, early or late ‘90s, or in the current decade.

This is Part 1, which will take a look at the players that make up each of the 13 Roles. Now mind you, this list is only as exhaustive as my feeble mind, and if you see necessary additions, please leave them in the comments.

And in Part 2, I will make whatever additions are necessary, whether they are player roles or actual players, and then break down each of the champions/dynasties by what exactly made them special.

So here we go—the first player you need…is sort of obvious. Unless you’re the Detroit Pistons circa 2004, that is.



1. The Anomaly (in the Matrix, lol) – the player who came to the team and he’s waaaaay better than anyone else in his time. Game plans are changed when he’s on the court—for both teams.
See:
• Isiah Thomas (Pistons ’89-90)
• Michael Jordan (’02-03…just kiddin…but he still was better than Koooobeeeee!!! Lol)
• Hakeem Olajuwon (’94-95)
• Tim Duncan (Spurs ’99, 03, 05, 07)
• Shaquille O’Neal (2000-02…no we cannot include ’06. We just can’t)
• dang it…Kobe (’09) –could’ve been you, LeBron!!



2. The Surprise – the guy who was never expected to be as good as he is, but he is
See:
• Scottie Pippen (Bulls ’91-93, 96-98)
• Tony Parker (Spurs ’03, 05, 07)
• Chauncey Billups (Pistons ’04)
• Tayshaun Prince (Pistons ’04)
• Ben Wallace (Pistons ’04) - Yup, the Pistons had THREE of these
• Rajon Rondo(Celtics ’08)



3. The Foul Magnet– for some reason, as soon as he comes in the game, the other team starts running out of big men…
See:
• Bill Laimbeer (Pistons ’89-90)
• Michael Jordan (Timeless)
• Tim Duncan (Spurs ’99, 03, 05, 07)
• Manu Ginobili (Spurs, 03, 05, 07)
• Tony Parker (Spurs, 03, 05, 07) – Spurs have THREE of these!!!!
• Shaquille O’Neal (2000-02, ’06)
• Kobe Bryant (Lakers ’00-02, ’09)
• Rip Hamilton (Pistons ’04)
DWYANE WADE (!!!)(Heat ’06)
• Leon Powe(Celtics ’08)


4. The Giver-and-Taker – This is the player who is the KEY to the team’s chemistry—the one who is good enough to demand the ball more, but is unselfish enough to make the rest of his team work even better by sacrificing his numbers
See:
• Isiah Thomas (Pistons ’89-90)
• Scottie Pippen (Bulls ’91-93, 96-98)
• David Robinson (Spurs ’99, 03)
• Kevin Garnett (Celtics ’08)
• Pau Gasol (Lakers ’09)
• Lamar Odom (Lakers ’09)



5. The guy who EATS jumpers and layups– He’s in his prime, he’s angry, he has crazy leaping ability, and he wants to win. Shoot at your own peril
See:
• John Salley (Pistons ’89-90)
• Hakeem Olajuwon (Rockets ’94-95)
• Shaq (Lakers ’00)
• Ben Wallace (Pistons ’04)
• Alonzo Mourning (Heat ’06) – Clearly he was out of his prime, but he has to be included. He single-handedly ended Game 6 on the road against the Mavs
• KG (Celtics ’08)


6. The Big Shooter– he can moonlight as a 4 or 5, but his shooting range extends to where he almost could be a passable 3
See:
• Bill Laimbeer (Pistons ’89-90)
• Horace Grant (Bulls ’91-93, Lakers ’00)
• Carl Herrera (Rockets ’94-95)
• Robert Horry (Rockets ’94-95, Lakers ’00-02, Spurs ’05, 07. Seriously.)
• Memhet Okur (Pistons ’04)
• Rasheed Wallace (Pistons '04)
• Pau Gasol (Lakers ’09)



7. The Old Vets who want to win– they all had varying levels of talent when they were young, but now they have just enough talent left to maximize their basketball experience to be in the rotation—and all they want to do is WIN
See:
* James Edwards-Vinnie Johnson-Mark Aguirre (Pistons '89-90)
• Kenny Smith-Otis Thorpe-Vernon Maxwell (Rockets ’94)
• Kenny Smith-Drexler-Mario Elie (Rockets '95)
• Rodman-Harper-Kerr (Bulls ’96-98)
• Vinny Del Negro-Sean Elliot-Avery Johnson (Spurs ’99)
• Harper-Horace Grant-Glen Rice/Brian Shaw (Lakers ’00-01)– Yo…that dude Glen was ready. lol
• Shaq-Mourning-Payton (Heat ’06)
Garnett-Pierce-Allen (Celtics ’08) - Quite possibly the most talented 3 members of this category in the HISTORY of professional basketball


8. The Powder Keg – the guy who’s gonna take the ROOF off the building with a HUGE in a home game at the exact moment your team needs it
See:
• Michael Friggin Jordan (Forever)
• Dennis Rodman (Pistons 89-90, Bulls 96-98)
• Kobe Bryant (Lakers ’00-02, ’09)
• Ben Wallace (Pistons ’04)
• Rasheed Wallace (Pistons ’04)
• Stephen Jackson (Spurs ’03)
• Kevin Garnett (Celtics '08)
• Dwyane Wade (Heat ’06)



9. The Syringe full of Testosterone--the guy who cheers like he was created to warm benches – He has the talent to MAYBE be in the league for another year or so, but his cheering ability is unparalleled, and helps to drive his often-older teammates to push themselves even further
See:
• Cliff Levingston (Bulls ’91-92)
• John Salley (Bulls ’96-98)
• Mark Madsen (Lakers ’01-02)
• Darvin Ham (Pistons '04)
• Sam Cassell (Boston Sam)
• Rony Turiaf (Lakers '…oh wait, he DIDN’T win with them, lol)



10. The guy with the big nutzzz who is 1000 times more valuable in the clutch, for some reason…--he may have taken the entire regular season off, or just not produced big numbers, but all of a sudden, LOOK OUT!!!
See:
• Joe Dumars (Pistons '89-90)
• John Paxson (Bulls ’91-93)
• Robert Horry (Rockets ’94-95, Lakers ’00-02, Spurs ’05, 07)
• Sam Cassell (Rockets '94-95)
• Tony Kukoc (Bulls ’96-98)
• Rasheed Wallace (Pistons ’04)
• Steve Kerr (Bulls ’96-98)
• Stephen Jackson (Spurs ’03)
• Derek Fisher (Lakers ’00-02, ’09)
• Ray Allen (Celtics ’08)
• James Posey (Celtics ’08)
• Eddie House (Celtics ’08)
• Trevor Ariza (Lakers ’09)



11. The guy who might SNAP…at any moment – you might call it a scoring outburst, but it really just refers to a guy who can get CRAZY hot for his team at any moment, and it doesn’t surprise anyone…actually everyone was just waiting for it.
See:
• Joe Dumars (Pistons ’89-90)
• Isiah Thomas (Pistons ’89-90)
• Vinnie Johnson (Pistons ’89-90) (The Bad Boy Pistons had THREE guys who could snap and give you 30…monstrous)
• Michael Jordan (∞)
• Kobe Bryant (Lakers ’00-02, ’09)
• Manu Ginobili (Spurs ’03, 05, 07)
• Rip Hamilton(Pistons ’04)
• Ray Allen (Celtics ’08)
• Paul Pierce (Celtics ’08)



12. The Mouth – He’s not even the best player on his team, but he takes up for his teammates, never backs down from a battle, and when teams get distracted and start talking back to him, suddenly...the game is over
See:
• Bill Laimbeer (Pistons ’89-90)
• John Salley (Pistons ’89-90)
• Michael Jordan (Don't ever talk to him. seriously. Yes you, John Starks.)
• Ron Harper (Lakers ’00-02)
• Rasheed Wallace (Pistons ’04)
• Alonzo Mourning (Heat ’06)
• James Posey (Celtics ’08)
• Eddie House (Celtics ’08)



13. The Crusty - The old guys who are old and smart enough to NOT screw up a good thing – they may be there because they are nearing retirement, or because they are near death
See:
• The end of Phil Jackson’s bench (Bulls ’96-98 (full of old Pistons), Lakers ’00-02 (full of old Bulls))…lol
Part 2 coming soon!!! Please leave your comments.

1 comment:

Ebony said...

What?! Clifton with a blog post!? I really have no room to talk though..lol