Championship Role Players
You only get to see Michael Jordan, Tim Duncan, Shaq, the superstars of NBA teams raising the trophy, but as we all know it takes more then just one man to win a NBA title.
No matter the year or the team, every NBA champion has had significant contributions from key role players. From the great Celtic teams of the 50’s and 60’s to the Bird-Magic era of the 80’s, to the more recent runs of the Bulls, Lakers, and Spurs. No great team has been able to sustain greatness, on just the back of one player. Of course Michael Jordan is the name everyone recognizes and with good cause, but without the help of a Scottie Pippen, John Paxson, BJ Armstrong,Horace Grant, and later Dennis Rodman, I don’t think the Bulls would have won 6 NBA titles in a 8-year span. Jordan was the main scoring force and the greatest player to ever lace them up, but without the contributions from the other guys, from playing suffocating defense to grabbing rebounds, Jordan wouldn’t have had a chance to win title #1 let alone 6. When the Houston Rockets won back-to-back titles it was Hakeem Olajuwon dominating Patrick Ewing and a young Shaq. What made that team so tough was that when ever they thought they had “The Dream” contained or doubled team, Robert Horry, Kenny Smith, and Sam Cassell would step up and knock out those wide open jump shots. Back in the days of the original “Bad Boys” the Detroit Pistons used their big name stars Isaiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer to win back-back championships. The real intimidation on that team came from the Dennis Rodman, Rick Mahorn, Vinnie Johnson, and a very intense coach, Chuck Daly. Not to the mention the big shot making and scoring of starter Joe Dumars, and Mark Aguirre.
The current state of the game is where team play is even less recognizable and one-on-one play is the preferred way to spotlight the NBA’s best. When the Lakers three-peated it was all about Shaq and Kobe which was the main reason for the Lakers success, but if you think about it was Derek Fisher, and Robert Horry knocking down big three’s and game winning shots. The Spurs were struggling to put away the Dallas Mavericks in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, it wasn’t Tim Duncan alone, Steve Kerr came off the bench to hit shots and bury the Mavs. During the NBA Finals against New Jersey the Spurs again found themselves having trouble putting away a team in a Game 6, until former Net, Stephen Jackson stepped up and buried three triples to bring the Spurs back from a deficit and to there second ever NBA championship.
So when your looking over the rosters for the 2003-04 NBA teams, don’t just look for those superstar guys to see where their gonna be playing and what position, don’t forget about the unheralded rookies or the savvy veteran who’s been through the battles before, because in the end they may be the difference between an NBA title and another trip to the NBA lottery.