The NBA Championship Has Always Been About "Lightning in a Bottle"

By Derek Ayala

I wrote an article a while ago talking about the Dallas Mavericks‘ chances of winning another title and how winning a championship in the NBA is all about chance and timing. I would like to elaborate to that meaning “Lightning in a Bottle.” This goes for most of the current teams in the NBA. If your team is not the Los Angeles Lakers or the Boston Celtics, winning a NBA Championship is all about chance and about lightning in a bottle. What does that mean?

Lightning in a Bottle to me means that your team has a slim chance in winning the NBA Finals. Out of all the 66 Finals ever won, the Lakers and Celtics have a combined win of 33 titles. The Lakers have 16 and the Celtics 17. The Chicago Bulls have six NBA Titles and they were all won because of good timing. Other than the Chicago Bulls, who else was a threat in the 90’s? Can you think of any at all? Exactly.

When Michael Jordan was drafted by the Bulls in 1984, during his first five years in the NBA, the Bulls struggled and the league was dominated by both the Lakers and the Celtics. Once Larry Bird and Magic Johnson got close to their end and eventually, retired the rise of Jordan and the Bulls came at the perfect time. If Jordan became the player that he was in the 90’s but in the 80’s instead, there is no way that Chicago would have won six NBA Championships. Both the Lakers and Celtics were just too powerful at that time.

Look at it now with the Miami Heat. Who else is powerful enough to overthrow LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh? Other than maybe the Lakers, there is no other team in the East that can challenge the Heat and take their title. Yes, there are the Brooklyn Nets, but I highly doubt that Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace can over ake the greatest basketball player on the planet right now: James. The Heat have the right pieces and the right guys at the right time to take advantage in the possibility of winning as many titles as the Bulls did in the 1990’s.

Look at the 1979 Seattle SuperSonics, 1977 Portland Trail Blazers and the 2011 Mavericks–there may have not been one person, aside from fans of the teams, who picked those teams to win it all. Nobody! They got hot at the right time and they had the right type of circumstances that happened to the other teams that made them get their first and only NBA Championship to date.

The reason being for the “Lightning in a Bottle” term is that big name players rarely end up in a city like Portland, Toronto, Orlando, Dallas, Houston or Sacramento. It just doesn’t happen. They all end up playing for either the Lakers and the Celtics. We see it now with Dwight Howard going to the Lakers as well as Steve Nash. Same goes for the Celtics with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen going to the team.

Now, there could be a shift in the NBA with players now wanting to go to the new Brooklyn team, but time will only tell on that. It depends on how well ownership goes with the Nets and how well they succeed in the near future because winning a NBA title for the Nets is also a “lightning in a bottle” situation right now. If either of the top guys get hurt on the Heat, then that would be the time for the Nets to take advantage and move on to the NBA Finals. If the Heat stays healthy, then it’s going to be impossible for the Nets to do anything.

You can say that the Oklahoma City Thunder has a chance to win multiple championships with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, right? Possibly. However, with the Lakers getting a lot stronger with Howard, the Thunder will most likely have to have the right circumstance situation fall in their lap like with chemistry problems with the team or health issues. I know that Durant is a loyal guy, he will say that he is not going anywhere and he could be right.

Look at Tim Duncan with the San Antonio Spurs and Dirk Nowitzki with the Mavericks. Both guys have been loyal to their teams and will most likely retire with them. If the Thunder does not win a championship in the next four to five years, then Durant may get unhappy. Or maybe the Thunder have traded someone like Harden and Durant becomes what Garnett was when he was with the Minnesota Timberwolves–looking to play somewhere else with a better chance of winning a championship.

If you really think that the Lakers will decline after Bryant retires, then you do not know the history of the NBA. The Lakers will find someone to replace Bryant before he hangs it up for good. They will find someone who will carry this team as Bryant did. It won’t be the same talent as him, but the Lakers will find an all-star to replace Bryant.

How about Derrick Rose and the Bulls? It’s probably not going to happen. Look at Allen Iverson when he was with the Philadelphia 76ers. Who else did he have? Who else does Rose have? Exactly. Yes they had some “side-kick” talent, but they weren’t all-stars. I’m not trying to compare Rose to Iverson, but it’s just an example. With the current team the Bulls have, Rose will never win a NBA Championship unless they take advantage of whatever may happen in the near future during the post-season. Again “Lightning in a Bottle”.

Maybe the New York Knicks? Probably not. They have the talent, but look at them now and their past. They have two NBA Championships, which they won in the 70’s, and have not won one since. They have Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, J.R Smith, Raymond Felton, Tyson Chandler and Jason Kidd, but who has them winning it all besides the fans of the Knicks? Exactly, nobody. I predict the Knicks to have chemistry problem this year, which will destroy their chances in taking a shot at the Finals this year and following seasons.

The Los Angeles Clippers may have a shot in winning it all and they could finally break out of that “laughing stock in the NBA” type team. They have the talent in Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler, Grant Hill and Lamar Odom. Now, nobody knows if the Clippers are a destination team, so we will have to wait and see what the current team can do this season and in the next few years.

If the Clippers are able to compete with the Lakers and take their crown, then the Clippers may be the place to go alongside the Lakers since they also play in Los Angeles. However, the Clippers have always been “that team” and if they do end up winning it all in the near future, it too would be “lightning in a bottle”. The Lakers are still the better team and are still the bigger brother until the Clippers win multiple titles. If they do so then, as I mentioned, the Clippers will also be the destination for big name players in the near future.

That’s it. There are no other teams in the NBA that have a shot at winning the NBA Championship. You will have the occasion championship win by the Spurs, but they haven’t won a title since 2007 and their team is coming to an end soon.

You have your Detroit Pistons who won a few in the past 20 years, or the Rockets, who won back to back when Jordan was playing baseball. There are no other teams in the NBA other than the Lakers, Celtics and the Heat that have a shot at winning a NBA Championship. Unless “lightning in a bottle” takes place at the right time during the end of the season or the post-season, your next champions for the coming years will be the Lakers, Celtics or Heat.

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