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You get a dynasty, and you get a dynasty...



dy·nas·ty

noun

• A line of hereditary rules of a country.

• A succession of people from the same family who play a prominent role in business, politics, or another field.

Compliments of Oxford Languages


For 47 years, the Denver Nuggets played professional basketball without a title. They never won an ABA title, nor did win and NBA title until last year when they defeated the Miami Heat. At the celebratory parade, Head Coach Michael Malone led the crowd of 750,000+ in a chant, “Dynasty! Dynasty! Dynasty!” Today, a lot of people are discussing the Kansas City Chiefs dynasty, but the last time I checked there has been no line of succession, you have the same coach, Andy Reid, and the same quarterback, Patrick Mahomes. So, are the Kansas City Chiefs a dynasty, should a coach and fanbase chant "dynasty" after winning one title, and are we using the word correctly, in sports, when we call teams a dynasty?


If you Google “sports greatest dynasties” you will get articles listing a number of teams and franchises, and there a few that usually populate the lists: Brady and Belichick’s Patriots, Jordan’s Bulls, and the Kerr/Curry led Golden State Warriors teams. But are these really dynasties? You have the same coach and quarterback combo in New England, and when Brady left for Tampa Bay, the Patriots winning ways came to an end. We all know that when Jordan left Chicago, to pursue his baseball dreams, the Bulls failed to win a title; but when he returned, they went back to winning titles. There has been no change of leadership in Golden State and Curry has been the basis for their title teams. So, if your author is arguing that the teams we regularly refer to as dynasties are not, in fact, dynasties, what would a sports dynasty look like.


John Wooden coached the UCLA Bruins from 1948 to 1975. His first title came in 1964, the MVP of the championship team was Walt Hazzard. They won again in ’65 and the key player was Gail Goodrich. Lew Alcindor, who later changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, anchored the next three title teams, ’67, ’68, and ’69. People wondered if the Bruins good fortunes were over after Jabbar’s graduation, but Wooden won the title again in ’70 with a team anchored by Sidney Wicks, Henry Bibby, Curtis Rowe, John Vallely, and Kenny Booker. The Bruins would win the next two titles with a continued assortment of players filling key roles. Bill Walton anchored the next title team along with Keith Wilkes, Greg Lee, and Larry Hollyfield. Wooden would win another title before retiring, bringing the title total to ten. Wooden led the Bruins to ten titles over the course of three different decades with hundreds of different players, that is the definition of a sports dynasty. Then there’s Nick Saban and his dynastic run at the University of Alabama.


Saban coached the Crimson Tide from 2007 to 2023, going 206-29 and leading the team to 23 bowl game appearances, nine SEC titles, and six national championships. Like Wooden, three decades, and a healthy turnover of players year-to-year. In addition, Saban’s staff changed year-to-year with the likes of Jimbo Fisher, Kirby Smart, Will Muschamp, Jeremy Pruitt, Mark Dantonio, Lane Kiffin, and others, having spent time in Tuscaloosa. Saban has won with Bryce Young, AJ McCarron, Tua Tagovailoa, Derrick Henry, Mark Ingram, Najee Harris, Amari Cooper, Julio Jones, DeVonta Smith, Dont’a Hightower, Patrick Surtain II, and Minkah Fitzpatrick. His Tide teams won playing smash mouth SEC football, but also evolved, spreading defenses out with five wideout sets. Saban’s run at Alabama is definitely dynastic.


In sports, it often feels like we run out of words, and so we feel compelled to exaggerate what we see. A running back isn’t just good, he is great. It wasn’t just a good hit; it was a ferocious hit. The game winning shot was a result of the greatest pass we have ever seen. That quarterback is generational, a talent unlike any other. We are watering down the true meaning of a lot of these words, including dynasty. This in no way takes anything away from the accomplishments of the Kansas City Chiefs who are in the midst of a terrific run. Misuse of the word dynasty doesn’t tarnish any of the accomplishments of Curry, Kerr, Green, Thompson, and the Golden State Warriors. But let’s learn a lesson from Queen Elizabeth II.


Queen Elizabeth was coronated in 1952 and her reign came to an end in 2022, the longest-reigning monarch in British history, but not dynastic. Her family, the Windsor family, are in the midst of a dynastic run that began in 1911 with George V. George the VI followed, then Elizabeth II, and the current Windsor monarch is Charles III. A hundred- and eleven-year span with five different monarchs fits the definition of a dynasty, one coach and a core player or group does not fit the definition of the word, dynasty. I know this opinion isn’t going to be widely held, and some will argue that with pieces changing around the core, that teams like the Chiefs and Warriors qualify as sports dynasties. I know others will say that a sports dynasty is different than a political or financial dynasty. But for me, at the end of the day, it is the same word, and I just can’t get past the proper use.


About Your Author – Lynn Ault covers high school athletics for Battle Born Preps and, occasionally, offers opinions on subjects like sports dynasties. When not announcing various sports for Damonte Ranch High School, you can find Lynn working with middle and high school students at Hope Community, a non-denominational church in south Reno.


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