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Dynasties are fragile. When GS added KD, we thought they'd dominate the league for another 5 years. When Miami’s big 3 was formed, they went out on national television and stated that they’d win championships.. not 1, not 2, not 3...
They won 2. Golden state.. Won 2. Kobe & Shaq.. won 3. I could continue, even cover the number of proclaimed dynasties that never went on to win a single title together. So why are dynasties so fragile? Today we’ll look at Golden State’s dynasty, and where exactly they made that one step in the wrong direction, leading to the result we see today.
I spoke with an expert who’s been coaching teams for decades, he explained that all teams evolve in 4 stages, a theory that was first articulated by Dr. Bruce Tuckman. With the 4th stage being peak performance, and the 3 steps along the way we’ll break down as we go. The first is known as forming. This is essentially the honeymoon phase. Everyone is so polite to the point where it’s hard to make any real progress as teammates. In an attempt to make each other feel as comfortable as possible, in the end, no one is comfortable. This can often lead to under-performing early on, which we saw in golden state. As the need for action rises, the polite facade of the 1st stage is dropped and people begin to show their true colors. As the team enters into the “storming” stage.. a stage of conflict, dispute, vying for position, as each prominent team member is trying to establish their own role. This is especially true with teams made up of multiple prominent figures rather than one defined leader. Golden State is perhaps the best example you could ever find of such a team. Steph, the face, draymond, the heart, KD, not a founding member, but perhaps the best player, which only complicates the matter.. and even the slightest disagreement can lead to an inevitable clash between teammates. This stage is inescapable, and yet, GS, being GS, a team brought up on bullshit mantras such as “strength in numbers” and this whole altruistic identity they’d assumed.. They thought that they were above it. They thought that it would always be that initial honeymoon phase. They thought that they could simply.. set aside our egos. Sacrifice for one another with only one greater purpose of winning collectively in mind. But this selfless utopia that the Warriors have been constantly branding themselves as since the start simply does not exist in reality. So let’s look at teams on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Could you think of a better example than The King himself? It is even present in his moniker. His teams have never been democracies & in situations such as those, it’s actually much easier to define roles on the team, allowing them to reach that final stage of performance quicker, but perhaps limiting their ceiling as a group. If that leader is challenged by other team members, it’s quickly nipped in the bud, there’s less of a dialogue, less of a sharing of ideologies and perspectives. Leading to a more defined strategy, but perhaps a less complete one.. and sometimes, if the personnel isn’t perfectly right for this dynamic, this can create bitter relationships between players that are never solved. That are just buried underneath and never dealt with. We saw some of that last year in LA. We saw plenty of that in Cleveland. A clear example being when Kyrie shocked us all by forcing his way out. But what’s a pawn to a King? They are easily interchangeable. Makin them.. Disposable. This may explain why LeBron is often changing team situations, never settling with one long term. It may also explain why he’s always chasing after teammates that he already has pre-established relationships with, such as Wade & Bosh on the Heat, Irving and Ty Lue this offseason. Lue, someone he already has an established dynamic with, unlike two opinionated guys such as Frank Vogel and Jason Kidd, specifically Kidd, who will now not only be competing for power amongst themselves.. but with LeBron as well. And when he’s unable to find guys that he has a pre-established bond with, he looks to at least keep continuity to some extent by bringing in replacements that he knows can fill a similar role. Look at how he replaced Bosh with Kevin Love when returning to the Cavs. Look at how both went from well-rounded threats to mostly spot up stretch 4 roles soon as they started playin alongside LeBron. GSW tried to keep continuity themselves, even through the addition of more and more stars, but eventually it got to a point where it was almost a completely different team. A team that went from relying on numbers and depth to one with one of the most shallow benches in the league. And how could you continue with the same formula, year after year, when your entering completely different variables into the equation?