(Penn Live) – Amid every really good NBA team, a personality sets in. It’s not necessarily built around one star’s persona but sort of a melding of the various parts toward a central theme, no matter how disparate the personnel.
The “Showtime” Lakers of the 1980s were built around pace, quick passing and the fast break. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had been in the league a full decade by the time Earvin Johnson joined him. Cerebral, placid Kareem was in his mid- to late thirties for most of the glory days but he was swept aboard the speeding train of those teams and won five of his six titles with them.
The late ’80s/early ’90s “Bad Boy” Pistons were about the bruising, often flat-out dirty play of Rick Mahorn and Bill Laimbeer, physical defense and board work. Sure, you had the artistry of whatever-it-takes guard Isiah Thomas. But even he gravitated toward the gothic symbolism of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders and embraced their delinquent image.
The Spurs of the 2000s have been about the synchronous movement and ball-sharing of “The Beautiful Game.” Sure, core stars Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker are all capable of beating their defenders one-on-one. But they have all sacrificed personal glory for the good of the team and that unselfishness has become symbolic of the team.