Last year's National Basketball Association championship final was the confrontation between one of the all-time best one-on-one teams and one of the best "team" teams of all time.
As expected, the one-on-oners lost, the Portland Trail Blazers beating the Philadelphia 76ers four games to two.
The 76ers, with their open, free-wheeling, one-on-one style, are at one end of the NBA style spectrum and the highly organized, team-oriented Trail Blazers are at the other.
There are countless reasons for a team using a particular style, but it is usually dictated by personnel. A running team has to have rebounders to get the ball. Good patterns can't be perfected without patient, smart players and good jump shooters. A physical team needs musclemen.
Philadelphia plays the way it does because that is all it knows.
"(Coach) Billy (Cunningham) wants each guy playing to his strength, and our strengths are one-on-one," said 76er George McGinnis.
"I think Portland is in a class by itself when it comes to execution. We are at the other end. But hat has to do with our backgrounds. We have only two or three guys on this team who finished college, so most of us missed four years of the teaching and fundamentals of team playing we would have gotten in college. The lack of that teaching explains a lot about our style. We are used to doing things on our own. A lot of us don't know anything else.
"Look at Portland. All of those guys went to good colleges and had good coaches. (Bill) Walton played for John Wooden, (Maurice) Lucas played for Al McGuire, and that stuff shows. There's no way you could get us to play like Portland. No way."
Portland is considered a highly organized fast-breaking team. The trail Blazers use a perpetual-motion offense utilizing a passing center, Walton, quick guards, Dave Twardzik and Lionel Hollins, one forward who runs and passes, Bob Gross, and another who rebounds and passes Lucas.
The Trail Blazers do everything else so well that shooting is incidental.
The Trail Blazers' basic offense starts with a pass to Walton in the low post, from where there are 25 options for scoring. There are picks set and players are constantly cutting toward the basket. There is no standing around.
The 76ers, at the other end of the court, are not nearly as organized. Their plays are based on individual moves instead of intricate plays designed to spring people for shots.
Philadelphia usually puts Julius Erving out high and the other forward, McGinnis, down low and lets each operate independently.
Many teams try to doube-team Erving as soon as he puts the ball on the floor, but he doesn't force his shots and passes off to the open man.
philadelphia also will clear out a side of the floor for Doug Collins, Lloyd Free or Darryl Dawkins, as well as for Erving and McGinnis.
Collins moves so well without the ball that the few set plays are run for him.
When they turn it on, there is no team to match the 76ers. They will go out of their way to be flashy, something few other teams do.
"We don't have a style," said McGinnis, "just a bunch of talent.When we do play with control and as a team we are devastating. Even when we don't, we can still be devastating.
"Portland, as great as it is, can't win if it doesn't execute. We can go out and win without executing and that makes us unique.
"Our unique style and the way we play makes for a lot of arguments about which is the best team, us or Portland. Portland is supposed to be the greatest, but more peole seem to want to come out and see us."
Including the Blazer method and the style, there are five basic types of teams in the NBA.
A brief description of each:
Open, one on one. Three teams play this style, Philadelphia, San Antonio and New Orleans.
Elgin Baylor, one of the greatest one-on-one players ever, coaches the Jazz, so it's easy to understand why they play that way. Their best players, Pete Maravich and Truck Robinson, take practically all the shots. Maravich is the league's best scorer and Robinson is the rebound leader. But the Jazz are struggling to be a 500 team.
The Spurs play more of a running, motion game than outright one on one. They don't hold the ball, just race up the floor and shoot.
Patterns. Ten teams run basically patterned offense. They want to bring the ball up court and run a specific play. If a fast break is there, they will take it, but they don't force it. They would much rather run a play and get the ball to certain people for certain shots.
Cleveland and Washington are probably the best at running patterns.
The Bullets are physical so most of their plays are based on picks underneath the basket.
Kansas City, by far the slowest team in the league, has to play slow-paced, patterned basketball.
Boston used to be the premier fast-breaking team, but it's personnel is now so weak that the Celtic's fast break is usually disorganized. So they now run more patterns.
The Cavaliers have most of the jump shooters; their offense is set up to get themm the 18-footers.
Organized, fast break. This is the toughest offense to play and only three teams, Portland, Denver and Phoenix, run it. It is a motion, passing game.All five players have to be unselfish and involved in the game at all times.
These teams will run the break at every chance. Everyone keeps moving, and as soon as the defense lets up, someone takes advantage of it.
These teams seldom throw the ball away, take bad shots, or let the opposition control the tempo.
Portland is the winningest team in the league. Phoenix has the third-best record and Denver the fourth.
Inside game. To play this way, Big, dominating centers such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Artis Gilmore or Bob Lanier are needed.
Their teams' basic style is to get the ball low to the big man and let him operate.
Free lance. This system works only if the team moves the ball and passes it to the open people. There aren't many set plays, but screens are set and players try to work open on their own.
New Jersey runs this offense well because it has Kevin Porter to control the ball. The Nets usually clar out the middle, put their best shooters, Bernard King and Howard Porter, on the wings and let Porter drive. if he is cut off, Porter passes off to the open man.
No matter the offense, according to McGinnis, it is still the basic things that win games.
"It's not the dunk or the blocked shot," McGinnis said, "but execution, the intangibles, that win games. I know that. Every player knows that.
"We isolate a lot for Julius because you have to, he's the greatest players ever to play the game. But I also know that if I break into the open, I'll get the ball. There's no question about that and that's the bottom line in every offense - getting the ball to the open man."