When LeBron James decided to "take [his] talents to South Beach," the move was widely met with harsh criticism. Everyone from rookies, to veterans, to legendary figures of the sport all chimed in with nothing positive to say.
Overnight, the man many viewed as the proverbial 'second coming' became a villain.
Most of the criticism surrounded a perception that James and the Miami Heat stacked the deck with perennial All-Stars in an effort to "buy" a Championship.
As the old adage goes, "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em!" Only a few years into the historical move, it has become a trend.
In the aftermath of that unpopular decision, NBA fans have been able to enjoy a new era of Basketball that has seen an evolution of talent that we may not have otherwise witnessed.
Back in the day teams were stacked, but there was always more of an established leader who held the dubious distinction of commanding his troops.
The Chicago Bulls had Michael Jordan who led the likes of Pippen, Rodman and Kerr, among others. The Los Angeles Lakers had 'Magic' Johnson who established himself as a leader amongst Kareem, Worthy, Cooper and the rest of the 'Showtime' Lakers. Same can be said of Isaiah Thomas in Detroit and Larry Bird in Boston.
Today as we look around the NBA, the current trend is not only to stack perennial figures, but to a stronger degree, load the deck with a hand full of All-Stars and fill the roster with a few key role players.
Some would argue that the Bulls and Lakers teams did the same thing, but we are now in an era that boast multiple teams that literally complete the leagues two All-Star rosters.
With 30 teams league wide, these few super-powers remain unfazed by any lineup beneath them.
Long gone are the days of complete parity, but present are the days of intense battles like never before in the latter phase of the Playoffs.
The top four teams from either conference could put together a string of great nights and wrap up a Championship run that no one saw coming.
With the deck stacked and the bases loaded, one has to ask himself is this era of super-powers truly the best entertainment value for the everyday NBA fan not residing in a large market city?
Should the league force a shift which would ultimately require teams to spread the wealth of players to the less fortunate smaller market cities, as well?
Either way, this is the NBA, and to quote the sports longest running campaign: "I LOVE THIS GAME"—just the way it is.
Thank you, LeBron!