Why superteams won’t be the death of the NBA

By Adam Przeslak, sports editor.

Whether LeBron James knew it when he decided to “take his talents to South Beach” or not, he sparked an entirely new era of professional basketball, the “superteam” era. LeBron, arguably the greatest player of the current generation, joined the Miami Heat and the already established Dwyane Wade, a Finals MVP at this point, with Chris Bosh joining the team soon after. That put three of the top five picks in the 2003 NBA Draft all on the same team, creating what I’d consider to be the first superteam of our generation.

Since the James-Wade-Bosh alliance of 2010 many stars from across the league have realized that there’s power in numbers. Just recently Carmelo Anthony and Paul George were traded – at their own wishes – from the Knicks and Pacers, respectively, to the Oklahoma City Thunder. In Oklahoma City they combined their all-star powers with that of the talented Russell Westbrook, holder of the most triple-doubles in a season with 42.

Westbrook’s former teammate Kevin Durant left the Thunder last year to join the Golden State Warriors and their ensemble of blossomed draft picks. This is where the “superteam” label sort of becomes a gray area as Draymond Green, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson were all drafted by the Warriors. They didn’t all come together and combine their all-star powers in an Avengers-type manner like the other superteams of this era. However, I feel that Durant’s presence and the other’s willingness to stay on the team now qualifies them as a superteam.

There’s also been plenty of other “minor” – I use this term lightly as these players are still high-caliber athletes – superteam formations in recent years, like LaMarcus Aldridge teaming with 2014 Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and the successful Gregg Popovich-led San Antonio Spurs, that I haven’t even begun to cover yet.

Haters of this current NBA era often cite the lack of dispersion among star players in the league as one of the biggest problems with professional basketball today. They claim that because of the cluttering of superb players on only a handful of teams that it’s the same rotating cast of teams in the conference finals and NBA Finals.

That’s a misconception though, because eight different teams have been crowned champions since 2000. That means that in 10 of the past 18 seasons we saw a repeat champ and only the Los Angeles Lakers won back-to-back championships. These numbers are not all that different than previous generations of the NBA, especially the highly regarded ‘80s and ‘90s, which saw only seven different teams as champs in a 20-year span.

The league prospered through that era as powerful stars such as Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan emerged as international household names. Critics cry that this era, which was dominated almost exclusively by the Lakers, Celtics and Bulls, wasn’t loaded with superteams, but with dynasties.

Superteams have actually created some sense of parity in the league. Despite their formations, the league has actually diversified in its championship-winning teams since the “dynasty era.” If anything, I believe that with various superteams throughout the league that it’s created a heightened sense of competition. When two high-caliber, quality players bring their talents to a team that already had a superstar there are such high expectations for that team that I think it just gives them extra fuel.

With “superteams” now sprouting up all over the country, viewership climbing and basketball players becoming increasingly more famous around the world I can’t imagine the league dying off anytime soon.

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