I have been an avid NBA fan since 2002 and have had the privilege to watch many great players throughout the years. Players such as Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen, Steve Nash, Shaquille O’Neal and so on. Now, more recently, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Russell Westbrook.
But first and foremost, I would like to make things clear. This post isn’t about Hall of Famers and their illustrious playing careers, no, this isn’t about this at all.
It’s about the art of the NBA Super Team, and how it’s ruining the league’s competitiveness, worth and integrity.
Let’s start in 2007, when Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen decided to team up with Boston Celtics great, Paul Pierce. Looking back, this was where many suggest the concept of the super team era started. However, I believe this to be false.
At the time, Pierce was the lone leader on a Boston squad that lacked top-tier talent and annually lost 50+ games. When he was with Seattle, Ray Allen had mostly been on his own with Rashard Lewis and mediocre role players. Garnett proved to also be another superstar surrounded by an anemic core in Minnesota.
Then after fighting a battle he couldn’t win while in Cleveland, LeBron James decided to join forces with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami before the 2010-11 season. Some may say there’s no difference in what Garnett and Allen did when they went to Boston as compared to James going to Miami. However, it’s ostensibly different.
Both players had spent time on their own to get their hands on the elusive Larry O’Brien trophy but had fallen short. Pierce had failed too often by himself in Boston. All players were heading towards the downside of their primes and wanted to win, and they did. In 2008, they beat the Lakers in six games. This team failed to win another ring together, however, and after five seasons and two NBA Finals trips, the team was blown up. Ray Allen went to Miami and Pierce and Garnett were both traded to the Brooklyn Nets. What’s the difference you may ask? I’ll break it down.
LeBron James had failed to win a title in Cleveland and I’ll make it clear now that I’m not a LeBron hater. I have a ton of respect for him but that didn’t come until after he went home to the Cleveland. I’m also not a fan of top ten players teaming up together. When teams have monopolies, it dilutes the parity of the league. More than likely, we will witness another NBA Finals featuring Cleveland and Golden State. It sounds boring and it’s not fun for anyone other than the fans of those particular franchises. I will say that I did enjoy watching LeBron tear the Warriors apart last year and that was when I finally had to give him the respect he deserved.
For me, the straw that broke the camel’s back is when Kevin Durant decided to go the Warriors on his own terms, who mind you, had won a record 73 games the year prior. The Warriors didn’t need Durant’s services, and not only did Durant go to a team that would be capable of carrying him to a title, he went to the team that embarrassed him and the Oklahoma City Thunder. OKC let a 3-1 series lead slip through on poor shooting performances from Durant. Feel free to look those numbers up.
The Warriors and the Cavaliers have made basketball for me and many people, very predictable. We are now witnessing the end of competition in the NBA. When two teams have six of what can be argued of the top ten players in the NBA, I see a real problem with it. At this point, the NBA should break up the league from 30 to 20 teams, to make the game more competitive now that top-tier players are now wanting to play with others, rather than carve their own legacy. Hopefully at some point, the NBA will become competitive again. Until then, we will have to deal with teams forming monopolies at will.