There’s no doubt I’m a sports fan. I no longer let sports rule my life and I definitely don’t let them take my weekends away anymore, but I always need my fix of sports. I go to sleep and wake up to sports shows like ESPN’s “SportsNation”, “Mike & Mike” & “Sportscenter”. But for the life of me, I am struggling with watching the NBA.
Ever since LeBron James started with this whole “super teams” trend, and ever since ESPN Sportscaster Mike Breen started over-using the term “big 3”, I find myself getting sick to my stomach. For instance, if you took guys like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, etc., not one of those guys wanted to join the other in order to form a “super team”. They didn’t want to cheapen the art of winning a title. In fact, the likes of Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing and many, many more went their entire careers without winning a title! Are they any less of players because of it? No. They’re still amazingly talented players but just weren’t fortunate enough to have their entire team come out on top. What those players did accomplish was not selling out and not cheapening their legacies.
Today’s NBA is all about joining forces and trying to win a title in an easier way. I simply don’t agree with it. It dilutes the NBA entirely. It cheapens it for everyone. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all about having a team to hate, but if you’re going to do what LeBron James did by going to Miami, or do what Kevin Durant has now done by going to Golden State, you are simply cheapening that title. When LeBron left Cleveland to head to Miami and win a couple cheapened titles, he was taking a shortcut. He was taking the easy way. Now, don’t get me wrong, we all like easy ways in life, no matter what we’re doing, but I stand by my belief that the best things in life; the things that are truly worthwhile, are things that take more effort than you could ever fathom. Michael Jordan, for instance, came into the league in 1984 and didn’t win a title until 1991. During that span, he had to overcome many hurdles. The Bulls tried numerous things for him, but, in getting that first title, it was earned by drafting players, not joining forces. Effectively, while it may seem appealing to do what LeBron James did and what Kevin Durant and Kevin Love have recently done, it’s also taking away from their legacy. For instance, while LeBron James did re-insert his legacy back into Cleveland folklore, based on winning the first NBA title for the city of Cleveland, Kevin Durant could’ve had a statue in Oklahoma City had he stuck it out and actually succeeded there. Now, all of those successes he had while with the Thunder are gone. I’m not sure Kevin Love would have had a statue in Minnesota but one only knows what would have happened had he stuck around and brought a title there. The fact is, by joining forces and taking the easy way, you ruin your legacy and you also ruin the game. While it may be exciting for some to hate a team, wouldn’t you rather hate that team for being built that way rather than a cheap manufacturing?
This is why, to me, the NBA is becoming a scam. It’s a scam for the fans that truly want to see their teams succeed. For instance, if you’re from small market America, you have almost no hope of holding onto a player of amazing talent. How much longer will Anthony Davis stay with the New Orleans Pelicans? How much longer will Russell Westbrook stay with the Thunder? For now, I praise a guy like Russell Westbrook for sticking it out in OKC. He has virtually no one around him and yet, he would rather be a true leader and build his legacy the right way. Is Kevin Durant a leader? No. He’s a talented basketball player but he’s a follower; plain and simple. I give credit to Carmelo Anthony. Does he have anyone around him in New York? No. But he’s being a leader and trying to build a legacy. There’s something to be said about that. Let’s call these guys who leave the legacies on the roadside to join “super teams” what they really are…scam artists and slackers. How much talent does it take to join forces with others in order to make it easier to win a title? Anyone who leaves to join forces and take the easy way is simply a follower.
For us real fans though, until the NBA puts a stop to this “super team” ridiculousness, I’m afraid it’s just not the NBA of truly talented leaders and legacies we all once knew. It’s a watered-down version that does its best to sell us on the fact that it’s competitive. It’s not. In fact, it’s less competitive today than it’s ever been in its history, which is sad because if they did it right and forced teams to manufacture talent for the most part, it would be a really great league again and there would be great parity. It’s a shame too because the NBA finally seems to have a good commissioner.