Every great dynasty needs a break to fall in its favour just like New England Patriots. The NFL’s best organization is set to contest on Sunday in its ninth Super Bowl since the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick duo teamed up.
Consistently making it to America’s biggest sports spotlight is down to expert coaching from Belichick and transcendent talent of Brady but even those wouldn’t have been enough to get New England to be dominant had the AFC East not been terrible for 20 years.
The Buffalo Bills, New York Jets and Miami Dolphins have been poor during this period helping New England with a softer schedule compared to guys who play in tougher divisions who are jaded and beat up come the playoffs-Cam Newton and Carolina Panthers. Finding Brady with the 199th pick in the NFL Draft in 2000 was a lucky break. The Tuck Rule too was a lucky break.
Heck Ole Gunnar Solksjaer is getting a full dose of lucky breaks with Neymar’s absence in Man United’s Champions League ties against PSG confirmed.
In the NBA, defending champions Golden State Warriors are on the verge of crowning basketball’s latest dynasty with a third straight title.
The team is already scaring the lives out of competitors by trotting out its five man starting unit of All Star players after DeMarcus Cousins returned from a long Achilles injury lay off.
The Warriors are extremely lucky to be in such an envious position many teams dream to be in but it wouldn’t have worked out this way had Steph Curry been Steph Curry right off the bat in his earlier years in the league. Despite solid production and living up to his lottery pick in the 2009 Draft, Curry was plagued by ankle injuries that prevented him from getting on the court.
As a result, Warriors agreed to a low key $11 million deal per year for the next four seasons after 2012 which ultimately became a bargain since Curry moved past his injury issues and won two Most Valuable Player Award titles. Getting its star player on a cheap contract enabled Warriors management to sign teammates Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and the best player in the last two NBA Finals Series, Kevin Durant.
Golden State got lucky again this past offseason when the league turned its back on Cousins after suffering the career threatening injury to sign him for little over five million dollars. Cousins gives Golden State a new potent paint prowling weapon on offense when the perimeter oriented attack isn’t clicking.
Had DeMarcus not gone down with injury last season, New Orleans Pelicans would have had few headaches heading to this offseason as a Cousins return all but assured the team of getting star man Anthony Davis to pen a five year max contract. However, Pelicans couldn’t commit long term money to Cousins for obvious reasons and the NBA’s budding “Twin Towers” was no more.
On the back of a polarizing season thus far-Pelicans rank third in points scored but rank 25th on defense- New Orleans are 13th in the Western Conference standings and very likely to miss the playoffs. With little room for improvement after a big offseason signing lottery picks Elfrid Payton, Julius Randle and Jahlil Okafor, the Pelicans are going nowhere as a franchise and Davis wants out.
The timing is key considering such a move in the offseason would have brought Boston Celtics to the trade table but announcing his intentions midseason takes Celtics out of the equation due to Kyrie Irving’s contract and Derrick Rose Rule. Such a move would benefit New Orleans since Boston has better assets than Lakers in Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Terry Rozier, Daniel Theis and first round draft picks. Pelicans could trade Davis to Phoenix Suns out of spite but what good would that do for the club since the likely trade return in TJ Warren, Josh Jackson and Dragan Bender plus draft picks isn’t good enough.
But one has to wonder how good the team’s fortunes would have looked like had Cousins not been injured. He would have formed a dynamic duo with fellow Kentucky University big man Davis for the next half decade as they showed in a season together to make New Orleans a main stay in the playoffs. With Jrue Holiday, New Orleans would have had its “Big Three” to challenge the Western Conference heavy weights and not forgetting Nikola Mirotic’s ability to play the Toni Kukoc role of the bench.
But the New Orleans Pelicans brightest light to NBA relevance is about to fade out just as it did with Chris Paul and there is very little they can do about it.
They don’t have the power to avoid playing in the toughest Division and Conference in the NBA, they don’t have the assets to swing for another big trade to keep them in the battle for playoff spots and they certainly can’t keep their crown jewel Anthony Davis for long. Sometimes, that lucky break is simply evasive.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@YawMintYM on Twitter