Three’s Never a Crowd
Especially when it comes to getting that ring.
by Van Sias
Back when Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen joined Paul Pierce in Boston, it was as if the pro basketball world was tilted on its axis. That “Big 3” went on to win the big ring during its first season together.
Now, we’re a week into what’s being called “Miami Thrice” with LeBron James and Chris Bosh hooking up with Dwyane Wade on the Heat.
There’s been a lot of questions about why “the King” made the move, but if the number three isn’t prevalent with your team — whether physically or philosophically — you could be in line for watching a lot ring presentations to other teams over the course of your career.
Just look at some of the championship squads over the past couple (or I should say, three) decades. The 1980s weren’t just about Bird and Magic; rather it was more like the Bird/McHale/Parish and Magic/Kareem/Worthy show, with Danny Ainge and Dennis Johnson and Byron Scott and Michael Cooper, respectively, among the supporting casts. Those squads were prolific with the ring-getting back then, winning eight titles between them over the decade.
That all came to a halt for a minute, with the Pistons ending the Lake Squad’s bid for a “three-peat” by Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer and Joe Dumars; then Zeke, Dumars and new acquisition Mark Aguirre leading them to back-to-back titles. Their bid for the three-peat was stopped by Mr. You-Know-Who, who really came into his own, but not on his own.
The Bulls pulled off two three-peats in the ‘90s, led by Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant the first go-around, then switched out Grant for Dennis Rodman on the second set.
The number three showed up in so many facets on that Bulls team: from the coach, Phil Jackson, embracing his mentor Tex Winter’s Triangle Offense scheme; to John Paxson and Steve Kerr draining three-pointers at crucial points in the Playoffs.
In between Chicago’s trifectas, the Houston Rockets brought home the big one twice. You could say that those teams were deep like Aristotle and were able to bypass the magic of three with Hakeem Olajuwon putting on dominant performances against New York and Orlando. But if you look a little closer at those rosters, you’ll find a couple of youngsters — Sam Cassell and Robert Horry a.k.a. “Big Shot Rob” — who have sunk more clutch threes between them than almost anyone anywhere. That all started during those playoff runs.
But before he was so rudely interrupted by the Rockets, let’s go back to Jackson, who wasn’t content to get three in a row with only the Bulls. Moving over to the Lakers—and bringing the Triangle with him—saw him get his third title-winning three-peat, with Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and (insert third player here: Rick Fox, Robert Horry, Derek Fisher) embracing the power of the trinity.
Don’t overlook how the San Antonio Spurs got their chance to kiss the big trophy with Tim Duncan, the “Admiral” David Robinson and the “Little General” Avery Johnson coming up big for the first title. Then it was the “Big Fundamental” joined by Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker helping the franchise get the next three.
Miami, which picked up its first title back in 2006, couldn’t escape the power of three on its playoff run. It’s on Wade’s jersey every game! Plus, holding down the middle on that team was the Big Three-Peat, Shaq O’Neal.
The number three has had a huge impact on how legends are made in the Playoffs over the years. And don’t expect the ‘10-11 season to be any different.
The Lakers, who will be going for three in a row again next year, will have Kobe, Pau Gasol and Ron Artest on the court once again and “Big Chief Triangle,” who signed up for one more year, back on the bench. Boston brings back its Big 3, too. Aside from those veteran squads, there are young teams, adopting their own version of the formula, such as Atlanta with Al Horford, Josh Smith and Joe “Max Deal” Johnson.
And looking further ahead to 2011, there are already rumors swirling around Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony joining Amar’e Stoudemire in New York to bring a Big 3 to the Big Apple.
No matter, though, they’ll all have to contend with “Miami Thrice,” a concept LeBron has seemed to embrace: Good things come in threes.
After all, that idea worked for Jack Tripper, too.