"LeBron has ruined the NBA." This comment came from my good friend Mike Bishop.
Bishop's concern is that all of the top tier NBA players are going to follow LeBron's lead and leave their current team to join other superstars in large markets to create these "Super Teams."
We live in Oregon and our beloved Blazers are a pretty good team, but they can't compete with the Heat, Knicks, Celtics, and other the "Super Teams" out there. Bishop sees this as a detrimental thing for NBA; there is no parity anymore.
Is Bishop right? Is parity dead?
For fans of smaller market teams, these Super Teams are a bad thing. But for the NBA as a whole? It's a great thing.
First and foremost, there hasn't been any parity in quite some time.
Since 1999, three teams out west have played in the Finals. The Lakers have played in the Finals seven times; the Spurs four times, and the Dallas Mavericks have made one appearance. That's three teams in eleven years, and it's basically been the Spurs or Lakers every year.
Before the Lakers and Spurs, we had Michael Jordan and the Bulls. Chicago won six championships during the 90's. The Houston Rockets won two while Michael was playing baseball, and the Pistons won in the 1989-1990 season.
The 80's were dominated by the Lakers and Celtics, with the Sixers and Pistons getting in on a little the action. You can look it all up here http://www.basketball-reference.com/playoffs/. There has never been parity in the NBA.
The playoffs are going to be "Must See TV." They've been great these last couple of years, but this year should top them all. The word "epic" is thrown out their way to often, but in this case "epic" is an appropriate word when describing the upcoming playoffs.
As of right now we have the Bulls and Knicks squaring off in the first round. MVP front runner Derek Rose and his boys taking on the Knicks and their new Big Three? Woo, and both teams are actually really good for once. The Bulls just beat the Heat tonight and you could make a case that they're the best team in the East.
How is this not good for basketball?
Will the Miami's Big Three be able to get by Boston, the creators of the Big Three mantra. Are Kobe and Lakers going to make it three in a row again? Or are the Spurs going to return to the Finals once again? What about Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook down in Oklahoma City?
There are just so many story lines to pick from. What's happening in the NBA is unprecedented. We've never seen so many superstars playing together on a nightly basis.
So has LeBron "ruined" the NBA? No. He changed it. And that change was for the best.