Tank, they say. You'll get a superstar, they say. You'll turn your franchise around, they say. You'll be a championship contender, they say.
While that looks like a elimination game stat line for Lebron James, it represents something even more staggering and ultimately scarier. In 29 NBA Finals series since the beginning of the Jordan Era (1984), 8 franchises have won the championship and of the eight, 7 of them have won at least twice in that time frame. As we are on the cusp of what could be a Game 7 for the ages, preceded by the instant classic and possible 30-for 30 nominee that was Game 6' "The (Non)-Headband Game". We will only be reminded that the rich keep getting richer, as both the Spurs and the Heat have both won multiple championships since 1984, which after Thursday night will bring that line to: 30-8-7.
It speaks to the severe lack of parity throughout the league, while it would seem that there are more than eight franchises that are fielding at least "Conference Finals Contender" rosters, they are enjoying different levels of success. Of course all GMs, Coaches, Players and Fans want to win the coveted trophy, the truth is the likely-hood of such a feat is elusive and will always be for most teams. While the Sixers have the third most wins in NBA history, 47 postseason appearances in 64 years and 11 division crowns, the harsh reality is the franchise hasn't sniffed the Finals in over a decade and hasn't hoisted the hardware in 31 postseasons. We aren't alone in our drought of championship-dom, shoot there are 11 franchises that haven't won one championship and 7 of them haven't even had the pleasure of getting a chance to lose one. So how should we measure success going forward?
Is it based on expectations? Whether they be lofty and delved in homerism or a more cynical expectation of mediocrity and despair, where we get a season or two of a surprise playoff run or a season of Princeton offense.
Is it based solely on wins and losses? 41-41 isn't necessarily a losing season. Maybe 55-27, and a second round exit isn't so bad either.
Is it based on the prospects of our future? Sure we stunk but Jrue and Thad made the All-Star team, Evan showed some promise (or got traded) and that kid we drafted might make a big splash next season. Oh hey, we also have a chance at a Top 6 or better pick in the lottery for Wiggins. Or maybe we went 41-41 and got the 14th pick.
What is success in the NBA? Do you want to be like the Pacers and the Bulls? Your team is good but most fans don't enjoy watching your team and Lebron seems to continue to thwart you just when you think you've got him pinned. It's been a longtime since 1998, Chicago. You could be like the Knicks and Nuggets, awesome team to watch all year but coming up short in the postseason, again.
The Clips and Grizz had their best years ever and fired their coaches, maybe too lofty of expectations. The Lakers were the paper champs, they snuck in the postseason and got the broom treatment. But nobody is going to shed a tear for the Lakers and their 16 championships, same for Boston. Of all the teams I named, I'd like to believe every lottery team would have loved to have seasons as successful as those compared to having your franchise in possible disarray or limbo. That's because success is definable, nobody wants to be a loser.
In the NBA, success is defined by reaching the postseason, it's what your playing towards all season. Most fans and media heads alike put the cart before the horse and start speculating postseason success before a regular season game is ever played. A good franchise, coaching staff and team knows that their success is not fulfilled until and unless they reach the postseason to have a chance to make the finals and lift the O'Brien. As a franchise, if you make the playoffs you have had a successful season, if you win the whole shebang, well you sir or madam have had a successful year.
As fans, success is objective with plenty of grey areas mostly based on our personal expectations. For some of us, it's making the playoffs or developing talent. For others, it's all about the rings and other shiny things. Both positions are right, we deserve to have teams that win, teams that compete and care about every game as much as we do. We put our booties in the seats, and line their pockets with greenbacks. We deserve to cheer for a successful team, by our own measure and beyond it.
2012-2013, was far from a success it was the bad kind of 360 turnaround that Nets coach Jason Kidd was talking about, I think. What exactly will 2013-2014 have for us? Hopefully some more promising play from Jrue and Thad, the solving of the Evan Turner & Andrew Bynum issues and finally a clear direction for our team. A front office that I believe is competent and savvy. Owners that want to win but won't deadbolt their wallets or raise concession prices to astronomical levels because the team isn't bringing in the booties. Should all those things happen regardless of record, I'd say that's a fairly successful year for my fandom.
I've said in many post and comments that I fully expect for Hinkie & Co. to field a team that can make the playoffs and will compete all year. So I don't expect to have a shot at Wiggins or Parker, but if we were to luck in to a Top 2 pick after what would have to be a year of bad luck, I'd see our drafting of Parker at #2 as a successful year especially if Jrue continues to improve. [I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT HINKIE'S THOUGHTS!!!!!!; 6/28]
While only a small minority of franchises have enjoyed the ultimate success in the modern era, I know success is built up over time and if we are able to stabilize of franchise at the top we have a chance to join that select group. Still I know the likely-hood of me ever seeing a championship in this era of NBA basketball is less than likely, so I'm putting my money on the Mavs to sign Howard and/or Paul and make it 31-8-8 next year.