The Stunted Eras
Hey there pounders. This is my first fan post and basically my first sports essay/article I've ever made. I really love basketball, the spurs being the primary reason for that. Since I've gotten league pass and a couple of NBA books, The Undisputed Guide to NBA history is a great read, also the NBA Encyclopedia (not as good of a read but still fun), I started to notice a trend that I wanted to show with you guys.
The NBA's long history has been defined by its stars but amongst those stars there have been a few whose greatness has overshadowed the rest and created an era. For the purposes of this article I'm going to cover what I consider modern basketball a.k.a. Larry Bird Magic Johnson to present. (1978-Present).
Since the modern NBA there has been 3 distinct eras:
1. The Magic and Bird Era (1979-1989) (11 years)
2. The Jordan Era (1991-1998) (8-ish years)
3. The Duncan, Kobe, Shaq Era (199-2011/present?*(hopefully) (12 years currently)
4. Who will the next era be?
So onto my little trend I noticed. Think of these three Era's as trees if you will. They grow tall and mighty getting all of the sunlight (fame, rings) and have a long and prosperous life. In between these Eras are other trees. These trees possibly had the potential to be just as big as the trees before them, but the era trees, having already grown to full height, block the trees from getting enough sunlight and nutrients, stunting their growth; hence the name, The Stunted Eras.
I'm going to bust out a chart (which by no means is exhaustive)
I based stars off of Wikipedia if they had an all-star appearance, all NBA selection or H.O.F.
During the height of the Bird Johnson Era Magic or Bird played in Every NBA Finals from 1980-1989. Johnson won 5 titles during this time and Bird won 3.
(I admit I am not as familiar with this Era as the others)
Got a Championship amongst the trees
Piggy Backed Era to a championship
*Ralph Samson (got a ring waay late in career with Hakeem)
2. The Jordan Era (1984-1998 -wizards stint) ((1991-1998))
The Jordan Era was very dominant with 2 3 peats, preventing many Hall of Famers from getting a Ring. The only Great who capitalized on Jordan's absence was Olajuwon
Got a Championship amongst the trees
Piggy Backed Era to a Championship
Dennis Rodman, Scottie Pippen
Players that didn't rise up in their Era
Charles Barkley John Stockton Karl Malone Chris Mullin Patrick Ewing, David Robinson*(got 2 rings next Era with Timmeh!)
Reggie Miller, Danny Manning, Rick Smits, Hersey Hawkings, Mitch Richmond, Sean Elliot *(next era)Glenn Rice, Tim Hardaway, Cliff Robinson, Shawn Kemp, B.J. Armstrong, Vlad Divac, Gary Payton*(next era), Derrick Coleman, Jayson Williams, Tryone Hill, Antonio Davis, Kenny Anderson Chris Webber Allan Houston Nick van Exel Bruce Bowen *(later) Glenn Robinson Jason Kidd*(next Era)
3. The Duncan Kobe Shaq Era (1992-present) ((1999-2010))
(awesome photo :) )
This Era has been quite dominant among the 3 players. From 1999-2010 Either Tim, Kobe or Shaq was in the finals. This era was not quite as dominant as the Jordan Era, allowing a few other greats/future HOF to get a ring, but many many stars have not gotten a chance because of these three.
Got a ring amongst the Trees
Rasheed Wallace, Kevin Garnett, Chauncey Billups, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, Richard Hamilton, Manu Ginobili*(piggy backed as well as carved out a ring imo) Tony Parker* (same), Ray Allen, Dwayne Wade *(piggy backed as well as carved out a ring imo)
Piggy backed Era to Championship
Players who didn't rise up in their Eras
Grant Hill ,Antonio McDyess, Jerry Stackhouse, Vince Carter, Theo Ratliffe, Allen Iverson,Stephon Marbury Steve Nash,Peja Stojakovic, Jermaine O'neal,Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Tracy Mcgrady #Antwan Jamison,Elton Brand, Steve Francis, Wally Szcerbiak , Shane Battier, Joe Johnson, Zach Randolph, Gerald Wallace, Gilbert Arenas
Yao Ming, Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer, John Salmons, Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony Chris Bosh, Chris Kaman, David West ,Dwight Howard ,Luol Deng ,Devin Harris ,Andre Iguodala Andrew Bogut, Chris Paul ,David Lee ,Deron Williams, Danny Granger,Andrea Bargnani,Lamarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy,Rudy Gay
4.The New Era? (2007-?) possibly Anthony Davis?
Kevin Durant, Al Horford, Marc Gasol, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Roy Hibbert, Javale Mcgee, Serge Ibaka, Blake Griffin, Tyreke Evans, Ricky Rubio, John Wall, Demarcus Cousins, Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard
So how do I conclude this?
It looks like Lebron James and Co. may be a part of the greatest stunted era the league has ever seen. Hardly anyone denies that players like lebron, melo, chris paul are great. What would have happened if they were drafted in 1996 and Tim, Kobe and Shaq drafted in 2003? Would their greatness outshine Lebron's? How much greater would Shaq have been without Jordan in the height of his power as Shaq entered the league? Was Jordan stunted his first 7 years in the league dealing with Magic and Bird but was so great he still got 6 rings?
I could definitely see Lebron carving out a little slice of history for himself and getting a ring (I'm just using Lebron because he is the poster child of this stunted era). I don't see him getting 5,6,7 I'm not even sure he'll get two. Because as Lebron has spent most of his career coming up short, just when he thinks there is a clearing in the forest and the mighty Tim, Kobe and Shaq redwoods have withered away, here comes another group of young saplings to rise up during the weakened state and steal the sunshine once again.
I guess to me it is interesting to be great not only do you have to be the best of your generation, but you have to be born at the right time as well. With players being able to play longer and longer, the Eras are likely to increase. Maybe the next Era will be Anthony Davis and his reign could be 15 years instead of 10. Maybe Lebron could've been truly great, defined his own era. But that's not what the Basketball Gods had in mind.