In midst of the blockbuster signing that sent Kevin Durant to the Golden State Warriors, there has been a lot of talk about the so-called “superteams” within the NBA. How do we define a “superteam?” Is it a Big 3? Simply a list of former all-stars all on one team? Or is it just a really good team that the whole nation knows their top 3 players? This argument doesn’t hold much value for me, due to the vagueness of how this is classified.
Take the Golden State Warriors for example. The Kevin Durant trade was deemed the last piece that made them considered a superb team above all the rest. But what about last year? Yes, I know that they lost in the Finals to LeBron and the Cavs. But, what about all of the records that were broken and all of the accomplishments they had? Is that not deemed “super?”
Last season, the Warriors had 3 All-Stars (Curry, Thompson, and Green). They broke the one record in the NBA that nobody thought would ever be broken, the ’95-’96 Bulls 72-win season. They had two players on their team break the most 3-pointers made in a season mark (Curry and Thompson). It should also be noted that the record has been broken the last 3 years, curry beating his previous year’s mark each time. People also forget about the historic 24-0 start that they had to the ’15-’16 season. With all this said, what makes that team undeserving of being deemed a “superteam?”
Now, enough of my rant about the Warriors. Let’s talk about the Big 3 argument. The NBA CAN use, and loves the idea of a team far above the rest, or at least a few. The reasoning? Fans all across the country, rooting for one or the other. There is no deciding on who the favorite team is during these times, because you are either rooting for one or the other. There is no 28 other teams that you pull for during these times. It’s LeBron or Curry. It’s LeBron or Paul Pierce.
Since LeBron James left the Cavs to “take his talents to South Beach,” the NBA has been dominated by the need for each team to have a so-called Big 3. The reasoning? To do what every owner, fan, and player wants for their team, a ‘ship. Since The Association has increased the level of play from all their players, even the role players, it is very hard to keep around a championship-caliber team without 3 All-Stars, or former All-Stars, that play well together and know how to win during the season and deep into the Playoffs. The Heat started this tradition with James, Wade, and Bosh. The Celtics had a similar start to the trend with Pierce, Garnett, and Allen. Once both of these teams proved this strategy as worthy (both winning championships), much of the NBA started to follow suit. Teams and owners knew the growing importance of Free Agency, rather than the Draft. Players began to play their Free Agency to ensure that they were going for the most amount of money AND the best chance at a ring.
Even teams today like the Bulls, Knicks, and the Spurs have adapted this model in search of a championship. All of these teams have former All-Stars or current. Leonard, Duncan, Wade, Butler, and Melo to name just a few. With that said, when you take a closer look at these teams, all three have a couple things in common that stood out to me:
- They all have a so-called “Big 3.”
- At least one of these players on each team has either won a championship, or, at the very least, been to a Conference Final Series.
So why is this an argument that the NBA hates the Durant trade? Fact of the matter is, teams and players alike over the last 6 years have played this same song of signing names for lots of money to add to the roster and bolster their chances of the Larry O’Brien Trophy. They are all trying their best to get past just making the playoffs and rather making a run for the championship. This MAKES teams have to pursue 2-3 All-Stars, as the past 6 years show that this is needed in order to have success in the league.
In the last 8 seasons, the NBA has seen 6 teams win championships. Other than these 6 teams, there have only been 3 OTHER teams that have made it to the finals (Magic, Celtics, and OKC). There has been an upper-tier within the NBA for almost a decade now and few have mentioned that these teams are deemed “super.”
I know that this is a long-winded version, but you see my point. The NBA is one of the hottest professional sports right now and continues to gain interest from the world. The NBA loves the top-tier teams staying right where they are, because it creates a one side or the other situation with fans. Letting their favorite teams simply fall by the wayside. Interest rises and so do ratings when things play out this way. When ratings rise, so do the NBA’s checks, which is proof with the recent rise in salary cap because of the huge TV deal.
Simply said, the NBA doesn’t mind the Durant trade, they LOVE it.