As the sport of basketball becomes more commercialized, playing and watching basketball has become a form of entertainment comparable to a movie.
Indeed the competitiveness remains; indeed the professional athletes are professional; indeed it is entertaining. But it seems as if the world of basketball has forgotten about what the sport is about, what playing the sport really means.
In fact, ever since the emergence of dominant players, especially players like Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan, basketball has evolved.
What was once a beautiful, coherent five men game has turned into a one-man scoring show.
What was once an intensive battle between two teams has turned into a match-up showdown between two star players.
Consequently, the idea of "role" players and "specialists" appeared. Players who would most complement the star of the team. Players who would help cover the star's weaknesses. Players who would exploit the opponent's weaknesses.
There never used to be a three-point specialist.
There never used to be a defensive specialist.
There, definitely, never used to be a player who was on the team just for the sake of being on the team.
Of course, this is all generalization, but this is the overall trend of basketball.
Until the 2008 Beijing Olympics USA Basketball Team.
In the process of snatching the gold medal, Team USA has once again showed the basketball world what basketball really is. All the stars put team interest ahead of self interest, and play as a team, from the starter all the way to the last man on the bench.
Throughout the season and the playoffs, the Cleveland Cavaliers has redefined basketball, bringing the traditional and the contemporary together, molding it into a whole new idea of basketball.
They have the superstar in LeBron James, but he has put his team ahead of everyone else. His scoring has went down in the regular season, while his assists has increased. When his team needed to score, he still does.
However, only when he was called upon to.
Most importantly, however, is the fact that they play as a team. Instead of isolating James, or Mo Williams, or anyone else, they play together, combining each player's strengths and using that as a lethal winning secret.
Adding to that is the terrific team chemistry. All the players, from LeBron James to the last man on the roster, enjoy each other's company. They are a family.
Not only does it boost the players' confidence, it also brings the team closer to each other. Each player has the other player's back, which shows in the team's poise and composure through the roughest of times.
The Cleveland Cavaliers has found themselves a formula for success, but what they really discovered is the hidden art of basketball.
The hidden art of basketball that has been forgotten for a long time—team.
They have discovered that a well-bonded team is more lethal and deadly than a team with five selfish superstars.
They have discovered what a team is truly all about.
What basketball is all about.