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How Did the NBA Get ’Superteams’ and Is There Anything Bad in That?

   How Did the NBA Get ’Superteams’ and Is There Anything Bad in That?

January 4, 2021

The NBA can be compared to a fairytale world. Guys do what they love, they are paid fabulous sums to do it, and they enjoy the reputation of people who had to do much more to gain such a reputation. While monopolies are an old thing in the real world, in the NBA they are a relatively new phenomenon. They are even a level above ’superteams’. We will explain...

The monopolization of the players’ power began with LeBron James, who, having established what ’gravitational force’ he represents in terms of the desire of other players to play with him and the teams to bring him, decided to form the first so-called ’superteam’. He did it in the Miami Heat, inviting Chris Bosh to join him. There, they were already awaited by the ’native’ Dwayne Wade.

nba superteams
(Graphic: Betway Sports)

LeBron’s team at the time, Cleveland, remained powerless in the fight to keep him (although he returned after three years and created a new ’superteam’ in the Cavaliers). With this move, LeBron threw the NBA order into a whirlpool that had not been seen before. There was no precedent for his move. NBA players, and especially mega-stars, have usually remained in the teams in which they started their careers throughout most of the league’s history.

Dynasties were built by long-term and painstaking development of the roster with a minimal amount of transfers. Generational talents like Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan were appalled by LeBron’s decision, believing that he had chosen an easier path to titles than winning trophies as the ’main man’.

Upon LeBron’s arrival in Miami, the rest of the league felt the impact of that decision. The imbalance that arose in the NBA was almost comical, and Miami won two titles in two years. Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs finally got in their way, but it was too late for the league then. Other stars noticed that LeBron’s decision had no consequences for himself, while on the other hand, it resulted in two championship trophies where he played.

With this move, the teams lost much of the power they held over the players. Seeing that unrealistic money has been earned in the NBA for decades, most players no longer put the priority on finances but turned to figure out ways to win titles. The example that ’King James’ showed them was a good place to start.

Demands for trades have since become almost commonplace, with basketball audiences attending ugly ’breakups’ like those between Kevin Love and Minnesota or Paul George and Indiana, while last summer we experienced the epilogue of a two-year drama about Anthony Davis, who became part of another in a series of LeBron’s ’superteams’.

This condition has led to ’illness’ in the once healthiest league in the world. The arrogance, rudeness, and self-sufficiency of NBA players surpass even the behavior of members of European royal dynasties, while the atmosphere of mistrust that rules the league is the worst possible environment in which future generations of basketball players should mature.

The Heat was the second ’superteam’ in the modern era. The first one was the Boston Celtics (2007 to 2012), who with Pierce, Garnett, and Allen, won the championship ring in 2008. The forming of the Heat’s ’superteam’ was followed by the forming of the Cleveland Cavaliers (2014 – 2017; the title won in 2016), and of the Golden State Warriors (2016 – 2019). The latter had the most successes, winning two titles (2017 and 2018). But, we will talk more about them in the continuation of the article.

As for the older ’superteams’, the Los Angeles Lakers (Abdul-Jabbar, Johnson, and Worthy) stood out with four titles (1982, 1985, 1987, and 1988). Let’s not forget the Chicago Bulls with Jordan, Pippen, and Rodman, who claimed one title less than the Lakers (1996, 1997, and 1998).

The last (for now) act of an NBA star confirms this argument. Namely, perhaps the best basketball player on the planet, Kevin Durant, last summer rejected the option to extend his contract with Golden State and changed the environment. In order for his previous NBA environment not to be left without players of that caliber ’for nothing’, the Warriors decided to negotiate a trade with his future team, in which they would get D’Angelo Russell from the Brooklyn Nets. That is where things got interesting.

While it would be logical for most players to try to make things easier for their former employer, Durant decided to show his uglier side. Namely, he was “shocked and offended“ that Golden State planned to trade him ’only’ for Russell, believing that he was worth incomparably more. He conditioned his acceptance of the trade by the Warriors adding the first-round pick to the offer, thus making the already complicated situation difficult for the team from California. In the end, the Warriors agreed to that blackmail.

The NBA is not what it used to be when generational talents like Larry Bird and Jerry West were true examples of respect, but, like everything else we are used to respecting in this world, it has been replaced by a sort of a ’circus’. After all, as is the ’king’ so are the subjects, right?

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