When we think of the NBA in the 1960s we think of Bill Russell and the Celtics. In the 1980s it was the Lakers and Celtics in the Magic vs. Bird era. The 1990s are all Michael Jordan and the Bulls.
Those teams didn’t win every year (well, the Russell Celtics pretty much did) but they dominated their era with largely the same core of players.
That’s what Pat Riley wants for the Miami Heat, he told Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel.
“I want to keep bringing in pieces that are going to complement them and hope we can have one of those 10-year rides,” Riley said. “You think about every team, the Celtics in the 60s, the Lakers in the 80s, the Bulls (in the 90s) and then again the Spurs, those guys have been together for eight, nine, 10 years. If we can keep this group together for eight, nine, 10 years, we’re all going to have some fun. Don’t ever take it for granted. This is a special time.”
The key is bringing in pieces and helping the team evolve. Look at those 1980s Lakers that always had Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, but started with Jamaal Wilkes and Norm Nixon, brought in James Worthy, and by they started A.C. Green and had Mychal Thompson coming off the bench. If a roster is stagnant it dies, you need to evolve as the Spurs have done with their role players.
It’s just a whole lot harder to do in a salary cap era. We’ll see if the Heat can get and keep enough young legs to go around their core as Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in particular start to show age. But the bottom line is this era can last as long as LeBron James stays in Miami and healthy.