Bulls

From Bulls to Spurs, why NBA dynasties should be savored as they pass

/ by K.C. Johnson
Presented By Bulls Insider
Bulls

The pandemic-induced NBA pause featured the running of the Bulls, an ESPN-produced treat that detailed “The Last Dance” and a 1990s dynasty to remember.

The NBA restart featured the elimination of the Spurs. A so-called “The Last Stand” if you will. Their record-tying, 22-season playoff streak died on the Disney World campus on Thursday.

Savor these streaks when they occur. They don’t come around often, even if Spurs coach Gregg Popovich reacted the way you thought he would about the dissolution of his dynasty.

“I don’t dwell on the past,” Popovich said. “I don’t know who won the baseball championship from year to year. Four years ago, I don’t know who won the NBA championship. That stuff is totally unimportant. What’s important is the moment. You do what you gotta do and you move on.”

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Just wait until the ever-reclusive Tim Duncan talks on the documentary that one day should come on the Spurs. Let’s just say Michael Jordan memes are probably safe.

Three Spurs who started Thursday’s loss to the Jazz weren’t even born the last time the franchise missed the playoffs. The run tied the 76ers’ streak from 1950 to 1971, which they began as the Syracuse Nationals before moving.

Us media types like to document such things. I mean, we watch sports to witness greatness, right? And what’s not great about this?

Five NBA championships. 10 Western Conference finals appearances. Six 60-win seasons. 13 50-win seasons. The passing of the torch from David Robinson to Duncan to Kawhi Leonard, with longstanding greatness from Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Popovich mixed in for good measure.

 

As "The Last Dance" reminded a whole new generation that didn't live it, the Bulls' dynasty ended off the court. Age, attrition, salary cap concerns and the natural evolution of power, money and ego combined to leave Jordan's jumper to win the 1998 Finals as the enduring memory.

The Spurs never possessed the megawatt, marketing starpower of an athlete like Jordan. Even with the international success of the NBA and players like Ginobili from Argentina and Parker from France, they never seemed to dominate headlines outside small-market San Antonio.

And unlike the tidy, separate three-peats amassed by the Bulls, they spaced out their five Finals triumphs in 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2014. But like perennials popping, they always seemed to be there come spring.

These playoffs are taking place in August, September and October, a nod to the unprecedented nature of this pandemic-paused season. They will begin next week without Popovich and the Spurs.

But fear not: The last time they landed in the lottery in 1997, things worked out pretty well. They won it and drafted Duncan.

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