The "d" word.
Have you seen it?
Have you heard it?
In recent stories and commentary about the Miami Heat, the word "dynasty" has been prematurely sprinkled, like so much New Year's confetti in June.
The New York Times led the fastbreak, using the "d" word last week in a lead-up to Game 7 of the NBA Eastern Conference finals between the Heat and Indiana Pacers.
"A loss (by Miami) tarnishes everything," the Times' Howard Beck wrote, "the 27-game winning streak, the dynasty talk, the very image of the James-Wade-Bosh Heat as a team for the ages."
What dynasty talk? What dynasty?
Since then, the "d" word has passed through the lips of ESPN and TNT commentators and Associated Press writers as easily as a ball falling through the basket during lay-up drills.
If the Heat, who are playing in their third consecutive NBA Finals, defeat the San Antonio Spurs, they will have won back-to-back championships. As in two.
As championships go, two in a row is a fine feat. As dynasties go, it hardly counts.
If the Spurs, who have also inspired well-meaning but careless use of the word dynasty and are in their 16th consecutive postseason (a truly remarkable achievement), beat the Heat, they will have won their fifth NBA crown in a 15-year span, although none in consecutive seasons.
As championships go, five in 15 years deserve our admiration. As dynasties go, this one would exist only in the minds of the most delusional fans.
At the risk of getting all semantic old-school purist, let's agree that dynasty in sports means one team's supremacy for several consecutive years. Period.
No wiggle room. The greatest dynasties in the four major professional team sports in the United States and Canada all came in the 1950s and 1960s.
In the NBA, the Boston Celtics won league championships eight consecutive years, from 1959 to 1966. No other NBA team has come close. The Michael Jordan-era Chicago Bulls twice won three in a row and six in an eight-season span, and tha's mighty impressive, but what they had were two mini-dynasties sandwiched around Jordan's baseball "career."
In the NFL, the Green Bay Packers won three consecutive league titles, from 1965-67, including the first two Super Bowls. In the Super Bowl era that began with the 1966 season, no team has won more than two in a row. The Bill Belichick-coached New England Patriots won three in a four-year span (2001-04), as did the Dallas Cowboys (1992-95), but we're talking about real, full-blooded dynasties here, not the mini-micro variety.
Just for dynasty argument's sake, we might as well give an asterisk to the Cleveland Browns, who won All-America Football Conference titles in all four years of that upstart league's existence (1946-49) and then won the NFL championship in 1950, giving them five consecutive titles spread over two leagues. For knocking on dynasty's door, the Buffalo Bills lost four consecutive Super Bowls following the 1990-93 seasons, but those Browns of the early 1950s knocked more frequently: six consecutive NFL championship game appearances, 1950-55 (winning three times).