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NBA Super-teams Continue to Form: Why It’s Bad For the League

By Joseph Silber

Section: Opinions

September 29, 2017

The New York Knicks traded their top star, Carmelo Anthony, to the Oklahoma City Thunder Sep. 25. Anthony, who most expected to be traded before the beginning of the season, will join forces with the reigning NBA MVP Russell Westbrook and four-time All-Star Paul George. The Thunder are now just the latest in what’s become a long list of super-teams to form in the NBA.

Over the past few years, the list of super-teams has continued to grow. From Kevin Durant joining Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and the Golden State Warriors, to Chris Paul pairing up with James Harden in Houston, and now Carmelo Anthony headed to the Thunder, the NBA has grown accustomed to superstars joining forces with one another. And it is ruining the league.

In the summer of 2007, the Boston Celtics acquired Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to pair up with Paul Pierce, forming the “Big 3.” That next season, the Celtics went on to win their first NBA Championship in 22 years.

Another infamous super-team was established three years later, when LeBron James and Chris Bosh decided to join Dwyane Wade in South Beach. In the four seasons they spent together with the Miami Heat, they made it to all four NBA Finals, winning two of them.

For the third year in a row, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors played in the NBA Finals. This past season, the Cavs, who had a Big 3 of their own (LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love), steamrolled their way through the Eastern Conference, culminating in a four-game sweep of the Boston Celtics in the Conference Finals.

The lack of competition in the Eastern Conference has been a problem ever since LeBron returned to Cleveland. And in the West, the Warriors’ signing of Kevin Durant solidified their spot in the NBA Finals for a third consecutive season.

When pressed about the two-team duopoly in the NBA, League Commissioner Adam Silver said: “I don’t think having two super-teams is good for the league.”

Now that the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder have formed superteams of their own, it will only make NBA’s problems worse. Fans of the other 12 teams in the Western Conference will have even less interest in watching basketball this season, since their teams have no realistic shot of competing for a championship.

While LeBron James and the Cavs have a formidable opponent in the Boston Celtics, most NBA experts project a fourth consecutive Cavaliers-Warriors matchup in the NBA Finals.
Things haven’t always been this way.

In 2004, the Detroit Pistons won the NBA Championship. While they lacked superstars, the Pistons had a memorable starting five: Chauncey Billups, Richard “Rip” Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Rasheed Wallace, and Ben Wallace. Each contributed in his own way, whether it be Billups’ leadership, Hamilton’s scoring ability, or Ben Wallace’s defense and rebounding.

In 2007, the San Antonio Spurs’ depth proved to be the reason for their NBA Championship run. Yes, they had Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili. But neither one of those three was considered a top-10 player in the NBA at the time, and yet the Spurs managed to sweep LeBron James and the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.

The list keeps going, whether it be the 2006 Miami Heat, 2010 Dallas Mavericks, or 2014 San Antonio Spurs. The Mavericks and Spurs, in particular, provided tremendous excitement to NBA fans, as they each knocked off LeBron James and the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. And neither of those two teams would constitute today’s definition of a superteam.

In the upcoming season, NBA fans would love to see another team like the 2010 Mavericks or 2014 Spurs knock off the Warriors or Cavs. Unfortunately, the current makeup of NBA super-teams will likely prevent that from happening.

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