Team vs. A Team of Stars - History Repeats Itself


Team vs. A Team of Stars - History Repeats Itself
June 17, 2011
by Jim Paschke

After the 2011 NBA Finals, it should be clear that active NBA players might not be the best General Managers. Miami’s player-built ”Dynasty in the Making” was upended by Donnie Nelson’s traditional team building methods in Dallas.

A team constructed around a single and established star was superior to a team of stars. This is somewhat of an NBA rarity, but not unprecedented.

The team oriented, and basically “star” free, Detroit Pistons of 2004 beat the Lakers of Kobe and Shaq in five games. But for the sake of comparison, perhaps the best example of what we just witnessed last occurred in 1977.

The Portland Trailblazers, like Dallas and Dirk Nowitzki, were built around one transcendent star in Bill Walton. The Philadelphia 76ers were as talented and star-laden as any team you can think of. Portland also won the NBA title in 6 games.

The 1977 Finals were the NBA’s first following its merger with the ABA. Five of the ten starters in the Finals were former ABA players: Julius Erving, Caldwell Jones and George McGinnis for Philadelphia with Dave Twardzik and Maurice Lucas of Portland.

The 76ers roster included Erving, Lucas, Caldwell Jones, former number one overall draft pick Doug Collins, World B. Free, Henry Bibby (whose son Mike suffered a similar fate in 2011 with Miami), Darryl Dawkins, Steve Mix, Mike Dunleavy, Harvey Catchings, Terry Furlow and Kobe’s dad Joe Bryant.

Portland had Walton, Lucas, Twardzik, Johnny Davis, Bob Gross, Herm Gilliam, Lionel Hollins, Robin Jones, Lloyd Neal, Larry Steele, Corky Calhoun and Wally Walker. You get the point. Each team had a player on the eventual list of the “Fifty Greatest Players in NBA History” revealed in 1996: Julius Erving and Bill Walton.

On paper, you can clearly see what everyone had expected to happen. In fact, Portland used Walton and great team play to confuse and ultimately stun one of the most talented teams ever. It may be rare, but in the NBA, history does repeat itself.


Jim Paschke has been the television Voice of the Bucks since 1986, pairing with Jon McGlocklin during each of those seasons. He's added a new title to his business card -- master of online blogging and video webisodes. He'll be at the games, at the practices, at the shootarounds, on the plane, in the hotels, in the community and everywhere else the Bucks go. Bookmark this page and experience the Bucks in a whole new light. Play Paschketball!

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    Team vs. A Team of Stars - History Repeats Itself >>

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