Contrary to popular belief, there are positives to turning 50. For one thing, it beats the alternative. For another, when you want to compile a list ranking things that happened “in my lifetime,” there is a scintilla more gravitas attached when you’re talking about a half century as opposed to, say, 18 years.
Since the Warriors on Friday night officially qualified for what I consider an actual sports dynasty — at least three titles in a four-year period — it seems a perfect time to take a look at the best sports dynasties of my lifetime, which, if we are being technical, is actually about 51 ½ years, from Jan. 1, 1967 on.
It seems especially relevant since we are in a time when it is supposed to be harder and harder to build said dynasties. And yet here we are. And so here we go: the best of the 11 dynasties in my lifetime, not counting the 1965-67 Packers, since most of that happened before my lifetime (Dissenting voices not only welcome, but demanded):
1. Yankees (1996, ’98, ’99, ’00): Extra credit offered here, because baseball postseason can be such a crapshoot and I am perfectly willing to state we will never see another baseball team win four out of five. It still seems remarkable that even a team as skilled and savvy as these Yankees could do this, especially the three-in-a-row, since that involved winning nine consecutive playoff series (which they actually extended to 11 before Luis Bleeping Gonzalez).
2A & 2B. Bulls (1991-93; 1996-98): As remarkable as the first Jordan-led three-peat team was, the second was even more amazing since it included the 72-win team of 1995-96, and it also had the remarkable Hall of Fame triumvirate of Michael-Scottie Pippen-Dennis Rodman. And by the time that run was done it was already clear what we were watching in Michael Jordan. It was like watching living history.
3. Islanders (1980-83): If a dynasty could be underrated, this one qualifies because of the sport and the location. But if you happened to follow these teams every day — and it is one of the fortunate breaks of my life that I did, as a young fan — it made you wonder why so many people looked so miserable caring about sports because rooting for the Islanders was so much fun.
4. Cowboys (1992-93, ’95): The pity (or the joy, if you are a Cowboy hater) is that, by rights, this should easily be four in a row if only Jimmy Johnson had stayed. Still, what the triplets of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin did was show the exact blueprint toward dominating a sport — assuming you pick the right players and hire the right coach.
5. Lakers (1985, 1987-88): Showtime was so good we didn’t need to wait 20 years to feel nostalgic for it. Even as Magic and Kareem and Worthy were doing their bit, we knew it was something we’d probably never see again. The Splash Brothers have come close. But close isn’t the same.
6. Athletics (1972-74): Even more underrated than the Islanders (just look where they are on this list) but when you ponder the vast assortment of talent and characters that ruled baseball with a green-and-gold fist for three solid years … they should be more celebrated than they are.
7. Oilers (1984-85, 1987-88): If fair is fair, they probably belong higher if for no other reason than a 1-2 punch of Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier (even though that team was more of a 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 punch) deserves to be more celebrated. But it’s hockey and it’s Edmonton, so the same rules to the Islanders apply.
8. Warriors (2015, 2017-18): Maybe they deserve extra credit only because they’ve done this in a salary-cap era and somehow got significantly better (thanks to Kevin Durant) during their run — and because they won 73 games in the year they didn’t win it all.
9. Lakers (2000-02): This might only be a personal bias, but since the first Lakers dynasty I think of is Magic/Kareem, I tend to give the Shaquille O’Neal/Kobe Bryant partnership short shrift. Maybe I’ll feel differently in a few years.
10. Patriots (2001, 2003-04): Would be higher but … well, we’ll always wonder how much illicit help they had, at least with the first one.
11. Canadiens (1976-79): If you take this list north of the border it probably flips completely upside down. Most impressive thing about them: Habs were 16-3 in the four Cup Finals series in this run.
I would feel a lot better about the Capitals winning the Cup if I could ever somehow erase from my memory the image of Dale Hunter squashing Pierre Turgeon like a bug against the boards in 1993. But I can’t. So I don’t.
College basketball season, which not so long ago used to wait until around Thanksgiving weekend, will tip off this year on Nov. 6, and all I can think is: Why wait so long?
There ought to be a baseball civil court where Jacob deGrom could file a claim of non-support against his teammates. Maybe even a criminal court.
Boy, I bet Kevin Durant regrets his decision more and more every day.
Whack Back at Vac
Steven Schafler: The Mets playing baseball at Citi Field: As Sandy Alderson might say, “Now that’s a bad optic!”
Vac: I know one thing: It definitely hurts the eyes.
Jeff Sanders: Do you think anybody really cares if Terrell Owens doesn’t attend Hall of Fame induction ceremony? I don’t.
Vac: Not even a little bit. His loss.
@TommyBoy_2024: I don’t know about anyone else, but for 20 years, I have dreaded any time the Mets have to play the Yankees. It’s like in “Step Brothers” when Derek comes to dinner and everyone ogles over his success, while Brennan is the idiot that can’t figure out his life.
@MikeVacc: And there you have it folks: Subway Series ’18 condensed to 49 words.
Matthew Boccaccio: Mickey Callaway was absolutely correct when he stated how hard a place New York is. Those ticket prices and their surcharges for a decent seat, tough. Bridge tolls, parking fees, also tough. Concessions where a beer is $13.75 and a hot dog $6.50, tougher than a Noah Syndergaard fastball. We won’t even mention packed local 7 trains. What’s really tough is watching the Mets’ non-existent offense and a bullpen that destroys great starting pitching while flushing games away. So yeah, New York is a tough place for sure!
Vac: Nothing I could possibly to add to that one.
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