Why do we watch sports? Is it for the love of the game? Yes. Is it to watch players who devote their entire lives to the sport get to realize their dream? Yes. And of course the sweat — don’t forget all that sweat.
At the end of the day, we sports fanatics love to watch competition and see every team go out on its court or field and discover which team has the will to win. There’s an inherent sense of wonder when you watch any sport — you always want to know what happens next. So, what if I told you that right now, in the NBA, any one of us basketball fans could predict how each season will end? Every team competes as hard as it can only to lose to the exact same teams every year. You’d think I was lying, especially coming from a league that preaches “Where Amazing Happens” as its slogan. Sadly, the league has changed and now the only “amazing” that happens is the amount of money the players receive to play.
There are these weird mythical beasts called “Superteams” that have become the new trend in the NBA. It’s all about getting a trio (at least) of players together on one team and just letting them dominate. One could argue that this whole thing began with the San Antonio Spurs having Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili as their “Big 3,” but the trend did not truly take off until 2007. It all started when the Boston Celtics acquired Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to have them join the still-great Paul Pierce. In the past 10 years, owners and GMs have decided this is the new way to make a team in the NBA and frankly, it’s destroying the game we all know and love.
Maybe some out there enjoy watching these Superteams just coast through the 82-game regular season and then the playoffs, but most fans of the game never became fans because they wanted to keep watching one team blow out the other over and over. Since 2007, Lebron James alone has left his hometown Cleveland team in which he was the lone star, joined a Superteam in Miami and then returned to his home only to form another Superteam. He could only win a championship once he went to Miami.
Believe it or not — the last time a team other than a James team, Spurs team, or Warriors team won a championship was my favorite basketball team — the Dallas Mavericks. In 2011 the Mavericks shocked the world and defeated the heavily favored Miami Heat. A team made up of scrappy players and one superstar like the olden days. No team has been capable of doing so since.
Today we have the Cavaliers and the Warriors as the leaders in this rat race. James has his pals Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, while the Warriors, who already had plenty of stars like Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, decided to woo Kevin Durant into joining. Durant made the decision to leave his already-very-good Oklahoma City Thunder because he didn’t want to compete for a championship anymore and just wanted to coast to the finish line and pray that he could beat James. An interesting strategy…
The NBA is boring now when someone like Durant decides all they care about is winning a championship. If he had stayed with OKC and eventually won a championship, it would’ve been seen as a showing of strength and perseverance, but he decided to just take the easy way out and join an already superb squad. That’s a move that players make when they’re 40 and about to retire — not 28 and in the prime of their career. James is guilty of this too, of course, having abandoned Cleveland for Miami’s enticing Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
It’s times like these that I can turn to players like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant or Dirk Nowitzki. They all stuck with their teams to get their championships and never jumped ship because yes, they wanted to win a championship in their careers, but also they wanted to grow, learn and compete with the team they were given. I wish Durant or James could’ve done that.
The other side of this says Superteams are making the league more exciting, more enjoyable to watch. And I understand that too. It’s like getting to watch the all-star game during the actual regular season and playoff games. Of course, the all-star game is inherently less competitive because they don’t have to care when they play — just as the league is becoming as a result. We love to see people who are good at what they do work together to create magic. But, everyone in the NBA has the ability to create magic, not just the Superteams.
So, now I ask, why do we watch basketball? Is it to see the Cavaliers, Warriors, and sometimes Spurs get to the Finals and win every year? I’m bored. I miss loving the game. I want to see blood, sweat, and tears drip from each player on a team that has truly worked hard to play together as a unit and not just some group of superstars who wouldn’t admit that they don’t have to work as hard to beat everyone else. I want to see the wildest basketball dreams realized with effort put in — not taking the easy way out. I want that sense of wonder back.