Breaking Down Why the NBA Will Always Be a Star-Driven League

Bryant Knox@@BryantKnoxFeatured ColumnistSeptember 11, 2012

CLEVELAND - MAY 22: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic get in position for a free throw in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2009 Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on May 22, 2009 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Today’s NBA is seeing more Big Threes, Big Fours and super teams come to surface, and—while not everybody is a fan of such trends—the Association is likely to remain a star-driven league far beyond the immediate future.

The most recent CBA negotiations have done little to prevent star players from joining forces up to this point.

Dwight Howard and Steve Nash have become the most recent superstars to flee for contenders, but as the powers of the league continue to dominate the bottom-feeders, the NBA’s star players will continue to do what’s in their own best interest.

Winning a championship is the ultimate goal for most NBA stars, but the number of rings in a career has begun to truly define the legacy of some of the league’s best players.

In the 2010-11 season, LeBron James averaged 26.7 points, 7.0 assists, 7.5 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game, yet all anybody wanted to talk about was how many championships he had—or more appropriately, hadn’t—won in his illustrious career.

Greatness has become directly correlated with championships in many circles.

To be great, you have to win, and as a result, players are putting their fate in their own hands by joining the best by any means necessary.

It’s true that the Oklahoma City Thunder have organically groomed their own Big Four. They’ve built themselves from the ground up, and they are now perennial contenders as long as they remain together.

The problem? The Thunder—and only a few other teams—are the clear-cut exception to the rule.

Building from the draft seems to have a ceiling for most teams, and year after year we see those squads give way to the bigger-market teams with the more talented rosters.

The NBA is certainly a business; this we all know. But at its most fundamental level, the game of basketball is simply that—just a game.

The best players in the world are colleagues, but they are also friends, and the Miami Heat’s Big Three is a perfect example of this.

James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade came into the league together, and when they were put on the same squad in Olympic competition, they formulated the idea that they could one day play together not just internationally, but in every single game throughout an NBA season.

International competition allows players to taste what it's like to play with the best talent that the game has to offer.

Kevin Love recently spoke about how playing with so much talent has made him realize how badly he wants to win, and if he doesn’t start winning soon, a change of scenery could be in his future (via Yahoo! Sports).

If it's up to David Stern, he and FIBA will begin enforcing an under-23 rule when it comes to Team USA’s Olympic roster; but even if this is the case, there’s a chance that it could simply set up the younger generation to follow in the previous superstars' footsteps.

But while recent trends have created more and more super teams, the truth is, the NBA has always been a star-driven league.

It’s true that today’s NBA has star players joining forces left and right, but in a league that has seen the Lakers and Celtics franchises combine for more than half of the league’s championships since 1946, it’s clear that no one-man show can truly compete night in and night out, season after season.

Fans can complain all they want about how the league has no parity, but when it comes down to it, people want to see star players. We want to see the most physically gifted athletes. We want to see those who can do what most of us can’t.

We want to see the best in the world.

Both on and off the court, the best players market themselves, and we as fans and media eat it up.

According to HoopsHype, the three most popular NBA players in current commercials are Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and James. Until Ricky Rubio at No. 17, every player on the list is an All-Star or former All-Star with multiple appearances.

Whether they’re heroes or villains, we love to watch the best of the best do what they do, and that’s not going to change any time soon.