Over the last five years, the Kansas City Chiefs have been the closest thing we’ve seen to a dynasty in the NFL. Having won only one Super Bowl, the clock is ticking on their opportunity to claim the dynasty title. Playing in five consecutive AFC title games is an accomplishment but bringing home just one Vince Lombardi trophy is strikingly reminiscent of another almost/mini-dynasty team in another sport.
The NBA’s Detroit Pistons of the 2000s, led by Ben Wallace, Richard Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace, and Chauncey Billups, were mainstays in the Eastern Conference Finals between 2003 and 2008. Detroit advanced to the ECF six years in a row. That was something that hadn’t really been done by an NBA franchise with no superstar. In the end, like Kansas City, Detroit brought back one Larry O’Brien to Motown.
While the Chiefs and Pistons play vastly different sports and were built with contrasting styles, their journeys to winning are quite similar. Andy Reid’s Chiefs went to their first AFC title game during the ’18 campaign and lost to New England. KC followed that up by making a run to the next two Super Bowls, winning the first over San Francisco and losing the second to Tampa Bay. They’ve advanced to two more conference championship games since then, including their upcoming matchup with Cincinnati in this year’s AFC title game.
Detroit’s run breaks down pretty much the same way. These Pistons made it to the ECF for the first time in ’02-03, losing to the New Jersey Nets. The next year Detroit got over the hump, upsetting the Los Angeles Lakers, led by Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, in five games in the NBA Finals. That was followed up by another Finals appearance where the Pistons lost to the San Antonio Spurs in seven games. After that, Detroit returned to three straight ECF but never played in another NBA Finals.
Dynasty or bust
If the Chiefs lose to the Bengals again on Sunday and fail to make it back to the Super Bowl, this could be the fate of this team very soon. The most significant difference aside from the sport is the Chiefs have the biggest superstar in football leading their team. And that’s what will make this run even more wasteful if they can’t squeeze another Super Bowl victory out of this dominant run. Having a generational talent like Patrick Mahomes and only winning one ring in a five or six-year span should be criminal.
After the first one, many figured the Chiefs would have won at least two by now, if not three. Sunday isn’t a legacy game for Mahomes individually because he’s got so many years ahead of him. But for this team’s current lot of players, the time to reach that dynastic level is running out. Failing again in the AFC Championship game brings this run of dominance down a notch. What they’ve managed to build in Kansas City has been something to behold. Hell, at the least, they’ve been the most exciting team to watch during this time. You couldn’t say the same about those Pistons teams unless defense makes you feel all tingly inside.
For the Chiefs, Sunday is a must-win in terms of team legacy. You can’t keep knocking at the door and not walk through it again. Yes, it could be worse. They could be the Buffalo Bills, who went to four Super Bowls in a row and couldn’t win one. At least these Chiefs climbed that hurdle early, but now it’s about stacking up rings and building on that legacy. Of the four remaining teams, KC needs a win most on Sunday. They need another Super Bowl now because the Chiefs are the only team with a dynasty hanging in the balance.