Brute, Finesse and the Ugly

I am an avid basketball fan as I am I’ve always been fascinated with the way the game was influenced depend on the personnel that was on the court at the time.  The 80’s changed the was portrayed to the world.  Games started being showcased on the national stage with regularity, stars became house hold names in the media and gymnasiums.  Players like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Isiah Thomas among others are still talked about in basketball media circles today.

All three of the mentioned before were champions in the 80’s but got there from differing styles of play.  The Magic Johnson led Lakers got their from playing a flashy, LA showtime style of play.  Lets call this finesse.  The Larry Bird Celtics played incredibly hard and are arguably not some of the better formulated NBA championship teams but they played very aggressively and some may even call it dirty style of play.  We can call this style of play brute.  Lastly the “Bad Boy” Pistons led by the Isiah Thomas.  Lets call this teams style of play ugly.  Question is what made these teams champions and which is the right way?

The Magic Johnson’s Show-time Lakers offense consisted of really getting out on the fast break along with moving the ball swiftly up, around and over their opponents in a fashion that would often leave them bewildered and confused.  These fast breaks most often ended by a no look pass by Johnson to one of the athletic wings, in James Worthy or Byron Scott, with a smooth one handed jam. To the fan’s enjoyment this made for an awesome display of entertainment.  Even a fan that did not watch basketball often or even understand the game could see the art in this style of play.

The Celts had to be called out countless times by their leader (Bird) in the media.  He often times would question their work ethic, heart, accountability among other things publicly.  The team responded accordingly by being the team Larry wanted and played the same hard nosed style he did.  This style of play mostly included hustle, diving for lose balls, not allowing easy lay ups and of course hard fouls. 80’s Celts were no strangers to fights because of this new style of play.

The “Bad Boy’s” were the last championships of the  80’s and this team went straight at your neck.  Easily one of the NBA’s top most intimidating teams.  They fought very often, were called for technical regularly and talked trash as fluently as they spoke English.  These “Bad Boys” are arguably responsible for the evolution the basketball player lifting weights.  This team is the one that Michael Jordan to get physically stronger and mentally more savvy to even compete with their Goliath like dominance.  They even ended their reign on the NBA by leaving the eastern conference finals in 1991 by not shaking hands and leaving the game prematurely.  All three of these teams are champions which is the right way?

Piston’s, Lakers, Celtics are just a few examples of champions.  If there was an exact formula for winning everyone would do so.  There may be trends (run and gun, inside-out, show-time, etc.) in winning but eventually things become obsolete and adaptation is becomes necessary.  Other times teams can use will-power and dedication to a their fundamental core values (trust, chemistry, consistency to the process) can chisel their way through trends to become champions.  There is no true formula to becoming a champion and in the preseason ways are cultivated and some pass and some don’t. There is no magic formula to become a champion, there is just a right way for the team.

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