A Dynasty? Not So Fast...

A Dynasty?

Both the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Golden State Warriors reached the top of their respective ‘sport's mountain’. While the Penguins become the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup champions, the Warriors became the 2017 NBA champions. No matter how each team got to that point, it is an accomplishment that no one can take away from the athletes who worked so very hard to achieve this accolade. 

This is especially true for these two teams in particular. 

The Golden State Warriors have won two titles in three seasons while the Pittsburgh Penguins have won Lord Stanley’s Grail two years in a row. These are great teams, however, where the line is drawn is when certain experts have the audacity to call these teams ‘Modern Day Dynasties’.

The term dynasty in relation to sports refers to a sports team who dominated a five or even ten year period. Obviously, that means your UConn Huskies, Lakers, Celtics, Oilers, Patriots, and Islanders. To many people, a dynasty is an ‘official dynasty’ when a team wins either three championships in a row or three championships in four seasons. Meaning by that definition, the Penguins and Warriors are not dynasties or at least not yet. This also means that great teams like the Blackhawks and the Kings are not dynasties. The fact is those teams did not meet the criteria of a dynasty in most people’s eyes.

Many fans will come out with these ‘Higher sports academic’ arguments as to why teams who win two championships or two championships in three years are considered ‘New Age Dynasties’. Those fans will point to the Salary Cap, the increased talent in their sport etc. as to why those teams should be considered dynasties. However, every single time a person says these arguments, it falls on deaf ears and justifiably so. The fact is bringing up the salary cap and increased talent in a sport is almost insulting to the players of old.

Assuming we forget that a lot of dynasties' core franchise players have been drafted to the team that turned into a dynasty (i.e. Celtics, Lakers, and Oilers). Athletes back in the 80s actually made a lot less money. Ironically enough the 80s was when dynasties were really prevalent. Now, of course, this is due to inflation and other economics... or so one thinks. Even when factoring inflation, one sees that athletes not only would have a worse quality of life, they would have had less of a cap hit.

Average highest salary by decade

The NHL implemented a strict salary cap that did not allow players to earn more than 20% of the teams salary cap. The 2004-05 NHL season was cancelled.

In today’s sports world, a fringe NFL, NBA or NHL player is making enough money that could give them a great life financially for the entire life. Case in point, former NHL Paul ‘BizNasty’ Bissonnette’s salary in his last year of playing NHL hockey was $750,000 and had earned an amazing $5.25 million in the NHL. That is not even including his potential bonuses earned, current AHL salary and other business ventures. In other words, Bissonnette has earned a lot of money to be potentially set for life. This is not a slight on Bissonnette, however, he was a fringe NHL player. Thus players in today’s ‘Big 4’ professional sports who are in Bissonnette’s position are essentially set for life. That was not the case for players in the 60s, 70s, 80s in Bissonnette’s position and that is even with factoring inflation. Those athletes were making much less money. 

In addition to that, many teams’ cap hits would pale in comparison to teams of today’s cap hit. For Example, let's use NBA point guard Mike Conley and NBA Hall of Famers Larry Bird and Robert Parish as an example. NBA point guard Mike Conley will make about $28 million in the 2017-2018 season alone. It is Conley’s right to accept what was offered to him, however, Conley is a good but not great NBA point guard. Assuming Hall of Famers Larry Bird and Robert Parish would accept the same contract they had in their 1988-1989 season, with inflation factored, Parish and Bird would make a combined $6.6 million today. Yet people will point to the lack of salary cap as to why Larry Bird and Robert Parish played together to win multiple championships. That is not the case, they were good players on a good team and it is insulting to them to attribute their accomplishments to the freedom of not having a cap.

It is almost even more insulting to those players when an expert will say that those players did not have to face the same level of talent on a daily basis. It’s almost infuriating hearing some hockey fans say the New York Islanders did not have to face great talent on their way to four straight Stanley Cup wins from 1980-1984, meanwhile, they had to go through the Flyers, Penguins, and Oilers. Celtics had to face the Lakers, 76ers, and Pistons. Thus these two arguments are irrelevant.

Therefore there are no excuses. If a team does not three-peat or win three championships in four years, that team is not a dynasty. In other words, the Blackhawks are not a dynasty and neither are the Kings. Also by that criteria, the Warriors and Penguins are not dynasties… yet. Yet is the operative word because right now the Penguins have a chance to three-peat and the Warriors have a chance to win three championships in four years. If both teams are successful, both teams will be considered dynasties in their respective sports because of the criteria that most people set for what a sports dynasty truly is.