No Reason to Compete, Just Join the Heat
Right off the bat I am in no way shape or form ready to crown the South Beach Boys down in Miami but I am already interested on what will be the results of next season.
Recently Michael and Magic have release statements about how they felt about the recent decision on LeBron and Bosh joining Wade down in Miami to play for the Heat next season. They both claimed if put in the same position they would never have made the choice to collaborate to a single team in order to win a championship, where Jordan even goes as far to say that “in all honesty, [he] was trying to beat those guys”. I feel these were just two Hall of Famers who were just voicing their opinions about the matter without actually coming out and openly bashing them for collaborating. This article is not to talk about who had more help, or who is the better player but actually why there is so much criticism about the NBA.
It seems that constantly I have friends telling me how they do not like the NBA but love college basketball and how it is so much more exciting. I then wondered how can a league where not only the most talented players in the country but the most talented players from all over the world come and play together be labeled as too boring. My argument for this is that there is a lack of competition across the league thus making it seem not as exciting. And here is why...
1. Players who play just for money
Maybe at one point players like Joe Johnson, and Amare Stoudemire wanted to be the man on the court and win games but after this past summer they have proven otherwise. They have taken max contracts for teams that most agree have no real chance to win a title. Props to them 100% but they just like players who step up their game on an expiring contract year only to get paid and return to mediocre play, are basically in the point of their careers where they play only to earn top dollars rather than to playing to win. I cannot bash them for that but can at least state that it seems money is more important to them than winning.
2. In High School and College they are always playing to get to the next
Some want to be hall of famers, others just want to see where their skills will take them and then back to my first point maybe they just want to get to the NBA just to make money for a living. Regardless they know in order to get to the next level they have to play their hardest and that anything less than being the best will result in no rewards at all what so ever. Their career has just begun and they only have everything to look forward too, which is their goal to be in the NBA and for that they play their hearts out.
3. Talented players are not spread throughout teams
This can be the cause for whatever reason from free-agents putting their future in their own hands and joining another team or to poor organization failing to either bring in the right talent and/or developing their players to reach their best. There are far too many teams year after year who remain bad or at very best make a run for the title then fall of face of the world. To the exception of rivalries and upsets, a blowout game to a lesser team is just as exciting as it snowing in the Midwest, we expect it to happen and on the small chance it doesn’t it may raise a few eyebrows, which in reality is that twist we want secretly want to see happen.
We want to see upsets and even more than that, heated competition between teams day in and out. But instead we are left with a few select good teams and then a league filled with teams who have only role players that would struggle to win against some of the great teams 2nd string. When you realize this it is actually pretty absurd, no wonder no one wants to watch. NCAA is so exciting because not only in March Madness an upset can strike anytime but even during the regular season as well, an upset could happen at any time and these are not necessarily games where the favorite team takes a night off and loses but just a competitive battle where the better team won because the talent is so spread out throughout college basketball. In the NCAA it is possible to see the top teams not making the tournament one year to the surprise of the year where the underdog Butler is one shot away from winning the championship. Of course there are powerhouses but really since UCLA no school has just completely dominated year after year for a decade.
Some players may want to play with each other while others may go to low name teams just so they can be the star but unlike the NBA you would never see let’s say the top 5 recruits all head to one college team. Which brings me to the next issue…..
4. The combining of multiple all-stars to a single team.
Right off the bat, yes teams in the past had multiple all-stars but a team who drafted a player and developed them into the player they are today is just not the same as another jumping ship. They have put in time and effort in order for them to help their team where some were instant stars (Jordan) and others who may have been talented still had to develop into one (Pippen). Yeah that happens and while a player has the right to join any team he wants to, when they leave to go team up with another star, in one sense fans love it cause they are the team to beat, or the team every one loves to hate but at the same time it is ruining the leagues overall competitive play.
In the Eastern Conference we saw the Cavs the team with the best record last season and Toronto who was on the verge of being playoff bound, potentially go to being completely irrelevant in the East (I don’t know what will happen next season), while their best players joined another team that was already in the playoff mix. While I support them for wanting to win but like Jordan said what happened to wanting to beat the best to being the best. I don’t mind James going to another team with another all-star but when it is with 2 others and one is considered one of the top-top players in the league just as he is, it is kind of disappointing.
This isn’t Reaganomics, the attempt at building this super house is not going trickle down to help the rest of league in terms of competition. I know how ridiculous that sounds but I am not only a fan of one team but rather I am a fan of the NBA in which I would like to be able to turn on any game and see a heated battle between the top athletes of the game and not them playing together, with the exception of the Olympics of course. Yeah Jordan had Pippen, while he is a Hall of Famer no one ever questioned who was better, but instead he was compared to the likes of Magic, Bird, and any other of the arguably best players to ever play the game that fans also saw as team leaders.
Plus as stated earlier you cannot knock a team for drafting and developing a player. An argument can be made for the addition for Rodman which took a great team to almost unstoppable one leading to a 72-10 record that has not been broken yet. Which I admit that may have been true overkill the league but it was the move the organization made and not the players. Once again I am not weighing on whether what the trio did is right or wrong but rather how it may help lead to the overall conclusion of why many no longer regularly watch the NBA anymore due to its lack of competition.
Now even CP3 wants his own All-Star trio.
While it may seem like the ratings of the finals between the rivaled Lakers and Boston is up, I believe that during the rest of the season people watch less and less because the games seem to matter less due to the lack of competition. If the competition increases due to higher level of play and a distribution of talent on each team, in turn games will be much closer to the point where either team could win thus making the games during the season more meaningful. I am saying this as a fan as the NBA not just any single team. Of course if I turn it on national TV I will most likely see teams of upper caliber playing but it would be nice to tune into let’s say a game of Orlando vs. the Nets last season and not have to turn it off before half time even hits.
While organizations will do whatever they can to win, I still expect to see the very top players in the league be able to lead their own team and actually compete to win a ring. On top of that competition is what makes players better and be the best they can be, if they have no one to push them or to beat what’s the point. In track if they ran by their selves they never would reach their full potential nor be able to set new records every generation, the same goes for running against someone who is not on your level. You do not get the same push to try harder and achieve more because there is nothing to reach for but now instead of top athletes trying to be their individual best and win a title for their team they are attempting to join up with other top talent to try and blow away the competition without achieving their top level of play.
While the Bulls clearly seemed to dominate the 90’s, the multiple retirements of Jordan definitely made things interesting because it brought up questions such as “can they win without him”, “what team will take over the throne now”, and after his return “will they reclaim the title” thus creating a constant flow of competition between teams and excitement throughout the league. Being a fan of all things Chicago I respected Wade and still do but looked forward to watching him and LeBron compete as one of the top talents in the league along with Kobe and Durant. I wanted to see if Bosh could actually prove himself to be the man on a team or if players like Johnson and Amare deserved the money they demanded. Instead we are losing a great matchup between those players while at the same time now currently unable to answer who truly is the better player and how great they really are. Then on the other hand players who are getting the money they claimed they deserve have to do so by fighting for a title but are actually in a position where they cannot truly prove themselves due to joining a non-factor team.
Fans now are all into the hype and once their team is no longer good either jump to another or disregard their team until they are worthwhile to watch, while us real fan who want to see the NBA rise back to its fame are sick of seeing the level of competition go down for so many reasons from the organizations, refereeing, rule changes, and now players no longer wanting to carry the load and to seemingly admitting defeat. I find this very disappointing as a fan of the league and hope one day I won’t be forced to only enjoying the sport when my favorite team is winning instead of being able to enjoy any game match-up.