Tonight, the Los Angeles Lakers will play host to the San Antonio Spurs for a game that isn't expected to be close. The Lakers are sitting at 1-7 right now and barely resemble a basketball team. Meanwhile, the Spurs are the defending NBA champions and have been regular contenders for over 15 straight seasons.
Indeed, ever since San Antonio captured their first title in 1999, the franchise has been a model for consistency and professionalism in the NBA. Tim Duncan, the only winner of five titles currently on the roster, is a surefire Hall of Famer. Gregg Popovich is one of the greatest coaches to ever stand on the sideline. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have earned recognition as All-Stars and indispensable cogs in San Antonio's Big Three. Every ounce of praise given to the team has been earned, particularly when consider the length of time spanning between their first title and their most recent.
However, for much of this time, San Antonio's chief rival has been the Lakers. Whether led by Shaquille O'Neal or by Kobe Bryant, the Lakers had periods of sustained dominance throughout the 2000s. First, from 2000-2002, when the team won three straight titles in an overwhelming fashion, giving head coach Phil Jackson his third three-peat. Who could forget about the team's run in 2001, when they went undefeated en route to the NBA Finals, including a four-game sweep against Duncan and the Spurs? And, of course, in 2009 and 2010, Kobe's maniacal brand of competitiveness willed his team to two straight titles with the help of Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum, and Metta World Peace. The Spurs have been consistent, yes, but dominant? It's not a quality typically attributed to their style of play.
So, in the interest of answering the question of "who's no. 1?" in the West, we've laid out all the facts for you: titles, head-to-head results, key contributors, and more. Which dynasty ruled the West? Give us your take in the comments section.