In the last few days, we have seen big names such as Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams join up with other superstars; Anthony with Stoudemire in New York and Williams with rising star Brook Lopez in New Jersey.
As a fan of the New York Knicks, I must admit that creating the one-two punch of Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire has been a lot of fun.
As a basketball fan, I understand how terrible this is for the game.
Whether it be by free agency or trade, the hottest trend in the NBA is bringing multiple superstars to the same team. As much fun as it is for the fans of those teams, the NBA’s future looks worse and worse because of it.
It all began back in 2007, when Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen joined Paul Pierce in Boston, creating the first big three. They were able to have a monster season and win the 2008 NBA Championship for the Celtics.
This past summer featured one of the best free-agent classes in NBA history. Players like LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Amar’e Stoudemire, Joe Johnson and Carlos Boozer all seemed bound for new homes and max contracts.
As we know, Joe Johnson stayed with Atlanta and Dwayne Wade stayed in Miami, but Wade didn’t stay home alone. He got together with James and Bosh and the three decided to take pay cuts to team up and win a championship.
Stoudemire took his talents to New York to bring the Garden faithful back to life.
Boozer joined young stars Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah in Chicago and has brought their careers to a new level.
With the way things are going, no team in the East will stand a chance unless they have at least two superstars.
The Orlando Magic and Atlanta Hawks have held their own this season, but it will be tough for either to make an impact in the postseason without more than one big star.
The Philadelphia 76ers, Indiana Pacers and Charlotte Bobcats all have a chance to grab the bottom two spots in the East, and any of them can accomplish this with a record below .500. None of these three can match up with the Celtics, Heat or Bulls this season.
While the East is stocking up on proven stars, they seem to be doing things the right way out West.
Most teams in the West are built with younger players and homegrown talents. The Oklahoma City Thunder, for example, found their two superstars, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, through the NBA draft and have surrounded them with more young talent, such as Serge Ibaka and Jeff Green.
The San Antonio Spurs, the best team in the Western Conference, has a starting lineup consisting of three veterans—Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker—who have played their entire careers for the Spurs, and a second-year player, DeJuan Blair, who was also drafted by San Antonio.
The rest of the top teams in the West are built around one superstar, such as Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki, and have brought in several role players to make these guys even better and keep their teams out of cap trouble.
The rumors have already started that stars like Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Deron Williams (should he choose not to sign with the Nets) will all be looking to join up with another superstar once they hit free agency in the summer of 2012.
Once again, we will see teams emptying their rosters to make space under the salary cap just for the chance to sign one of these players, just like we did in the last two seasons before James, Wade, Bosh and the rest of that group were preparing for free agency.
One of the biggest issues with this plan is that teams will basically forfeit a season or two just for the chance to sign a high-caliber player.
The Knicks were awful in their last two seasons, but made every move they could to create space under the cap to try and sign LeBron James and another superstar.
Knick fans were confident that two or three years down the road, they would see James in a Knicks uniform, only to be disappointed when he decided to join up with two other stars instead of joining a team that would build around him.
Can you blame him? He saw the Celtics make a run for a title every year since they created their own big three, so if he really wanted a championship or multiple championships, he knew he had to find his own big three.
Draft picks are now tossed away like peanut shells. The Nets were ready to give four first-round picks to the Nuggets for Carmelo Anthony. There are teams in the league who have double-digit picks in the next three or four years, while others have maybe three or four.
Rookies are no longer seen as important. How could the game be turning to this?
Professional sports are supposed to be about competition and are very much about the fans. Teams should strive to compete each and every year. Sure, rebuilding is a process we see in all sports, but that usually involves bringing in and drafting younger talent, not buying the best player out there.
Fans do not want to pay full price to watch a discount-brand team.
Again, as a Knicks fan, I am loving the atmosphere in the Garden and have not enjoyed Knicks basketball like I am today in a decade. For New York, this is bliss. This is awesome. This is exactly what we have been waiting for.
But I also realize that the NBA is suffering because of this. One player like Carmelo Anthony is now worth three draft picks and most of a starting lineup. Teams are now desperate to bring multiple stars together and will not rely on the draft to rebuild the team.
As much fun as this may be for some teams and their fans, places like Denver and Cleveland are now devastated that their homegrown superstars have left them. What are those fans supposed to do?
Cleveland fans were supportive of the team at first, but can no longer bear to watch their team barely push double-digit wins.
I, for one, am really looking forward to how the Knicks will play in the next few years, but I hate that the NBA has come to this and hope a decade from now, it will all be a memory.