Building a Championship Team


For the longest time, conventional wisdom on building a team said to get two superstars, preferably a guard and a big, and then fill the rest of the lineup with role players.

Detroit's building principle: Find totally unselfish players who put winning ahead of personal accomplishments. Pistons president Joe Dumars values chemistry over star power. Loyalty to team over marketability.

His team is the exact opposite of that of former teammate Isiah Thomas. The Knicks are trying to build a team on offensive firepower, potential and pizzazz. Instead of looking for bargains, Isiah tries to make a big splash with nearly every acquisition, no matter what the cost. He has double the payroll and half the wins, and almost none of the respect that Dumars has garned throughout the league. Dumars is the smartest man in basketball, and he is commissioner David Stern's greatest hope to reclaim all that is right and good about basketball -- given Stern's stated desire to have teams built on the foundation of good management and teamwork.

And Dumars' rules for rebuilding have made many GMs rethink their strategies for success in the NBA.