With the recent trade of Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks, another team is building through the acquisitions of free agents with tons of star power. The top teams are further distancing themselves from the rest of the pack.
The lack of parity is quite obvious currently in the league. All of the large market teams are en route to having successful seasons for years to come.
While some love this structure of the NBA, others have their negative opinions about it.
In the past few seasons, we have seen free agent moves and trades running rampant in the rumorville of sports chatter, especially in the world of basketball. Because one player on a basketball team can change the dynamic so dramatically, one player moving to a team can have a big impact on headlines and win percentage.
We tend to hear more about the next season during the season of the present. The talk about free agents happens years before they reach the actual market.
The NBA has created a league of stars, not a league of teams. This was started initially with the Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan era. Years before that, the NBA playoffs were on tape delay due to lack of popularity at a national level. With the modern marketing of athletes that Jordan created, we have experienced a change of how teams are constituted.
Now we know that all teams need talent to win, but the concept of how to achieve that has moved in the mode of getting a group of stars and having pawns around them for support.
When LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh got together in Miami, people started to wonder what was next. Other superstars wanted to follow suit, like any other human being seeing others be successful in their respective trade with a certain business model. Many of the fans who belittle these moves are the same guys who would move in a heartbeat if a promotion with better co-workers to a different city were to come up.
No matter what the basketball mecca is, stars are going to be magnets for them. These cities are New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago and recently Miami. Other cities that are just behind them are in states with no state tax, so their millions aren’t pulled from under them.
These guys have become celebrities, and they want to be in the areas where they can win, get exposure and gain advertising dollars. While winning a championship is the goal, there are other factors that always get in the mix.
Some fans think that the players have too much power. That is the perception right now. Fans in cities that have great talent have to wonder if they are next. Dwight Howard could move out of Orlando and be a part of the Lakers. Nobody thinks Blake Griffin will be a Clipper later in his career. Chris Paul could go to the Knicks next year and make another team with three stars.
Kevin Durant is the exception to the rule, but who knows what will happen if he has no success in the coming years? LeBron stayed in Cleveland for seven years; he tried and decided enough was enough.
Why do players who use their power become vilified? Like any artist, musician, actor or blooming new lawyer, they have leverage in contracts. The idea of starting somewhere and making moves to get to the top is truly American. Unlike football or baseball, one player can make a dramatic difference to a team’s finances, marketing and competitive balance.
Baseball players get the biggest contracts of them all, but they don’t seem to be crucified as much as an NBA star.
Fans must like this stacking of teams somewhat because the ratings for All-Star Weekend and the games are at an all-time high since the Jordan era. If the NBA playoffs started today, every round would have star power. When the top 15 players are on about eight teams, the playoffs have more juice than ever.
If David Stern doesn’t like the direction that the league is moving in, he needs to make that known in the new collective bargaining agreement.