The NBA is changing.
The Heat are leading the way with their “super-team”. Each victory they get is another reason for other teams to follow suit and try to make their own super-team. Soon, we’re going to have a mass exodus of superstars fleeing their home teams for bigger markets.
This will make the league more exciting, but it also will bring an end t0 the old ways of winning.
The summer of 2007: Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen were paired with Paul Pierce to change the Celtics’ losing ways.
And they did.
Garnett revitalized the team and spread his confidence and swagger to his teammates. Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins followed in Garnett’s footsteps, emulating him.
They won the championship and became a team.
Miami had its three stars (well, two and a half. I never considered Bosh a superstar. He’s good, but he wasn’t going to win anything on his own in Toronto).
All they needed was a championship.
Now, the Heat are another step closer to achieving that goal. If it happens, expect a domino effect. Teams will gun for the top stars. Players will want to form their own alliances to have a shot at the championship.
In the Summer of 2011 and 2012, expect L.A., New York, New Jersey (only because of Prokhorov) and possibly Chicago to get their own Big Three.
The Lakers are in flux because they were swept. Phil Jackson is leaving, and there’s speculation changes are going to happen in L.A., especially with Bynum hinting at trust issues.
New Jersey, soon to be Brooklyn, wants to step out of New York’s shadow. The Nets (Prokhorov) proved that by snatching Deron Williams days after the 'Melo trade.
If the Heat do win it all, expect Chicago to look for that third piece to compliment Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer.
The most obvious team that will attempt to create a super-team is the Knicks.
Even more say Jackson would come back to coach this super-team.
But these are all rumors. As much as I’d love Phil to come back and retire in glory rather than defeat, he is done. Hopefully James Dolan, the Knicks' slightly crazy owner (bringing Isiah back? Really Dolan, really?) gets the hint and leaves Phil alone.
Then, there's Paul and Howard, who both are still on their respective teams that will do everything possible to keep them.
However, if their teams are beaten again in the playoffs next year, and if the Heat win this year or the next, who knows what will happen. They, along with Deron Williams, might seek help elsewhere.
If they do, expect trades and signings by the shunned teams try and keep up with the super-teams.
Young teams like Oklahoma City and the Clippers will try to sign their young stars long term to avoid the fate of the Cavaliers. Borderline playoff teams will trade for borderline stars in a futile attempt to try not to get swept by the super-teams.
This power shift could help and hurt the NBA.
On one hand, it will sell more tickets, generate interest and produce more meaningful regular season games with the rivalries of these super-teams.
People will line up to see LeBron, Wade and Bosh against CP3, Amar’e and Melo or Kobe, Dwight and Gasol (If he stays. If not, throw Gerald Wallace on this team) vs. Deron, Blake and Eric Gordon (Give him time. If not, throw Gerald Wallace on this team) or even Rose, Boozer and Monta Ellis/O.J. Mayo (long shot but interesting option with either one because lets’ face it, they need someone other than Rose to shoot the ball) vs. Deron, Dwight and whoever Prokhorov trades Brook Lopez for (Possibly Monta/Iguodala. I also get the feeling Prokhorov would go after Wilson Chandler just to screw with the Knicks).
Don’t forget about Durant, Westbrook and Harden/Perkins. They would be the only super-team to not have been formed by the usual methods. They would be the anti-super-team, the last hope for old-school winning.
The Thunder would also be the small-town market's last hope, but how would they fair against true super-teams?
At the same time, this will end winning with homegrown/drafted talent.
Drafted heroes like Jordan, Bird or Duncan will become a rarity. Loyalty will be nonexistent. Small-town markets will have trouble keeping up, even more so if Durant and Co. fall to a super-team.
This would send the message that you can’t win on your own, or at least, you can’t win without a lot of help. Sure, Jordan and Bird had help, but you can’t argue that it wasn’t their team.
With these super-teams, it’s kind of hard to pinpoint the alpha dog (LeBron or Wade? Who’d be the leader if CP3 goes to NY? What about if Deron goes to the Lakers, I mean Clippers, or elsewhere?)
This also means more mercenary teams that would throw players together and have a good amount of guys entering and leaving each year.
The Heat consist of Wade, LeBron and Bosh, complemented by a bunch of guys who are just happy to be there. Their team identity is “give the ball to Wade or LeBron and make the open three if they give it to you."
That’s not a real team.
New York has this problem, too. It’s Amar’e, 'Melo and an aging Chauncey Billups, who is doing his best to fight off the aging with a bunch of glorified D-Leaguers outside of Landry Fields and Toney Douglas (yes, Shawne Williams, Jared Jeffries, and Anthony Carter would be such. Don’t try to tell me otherwise). Their team identity is more consistent than the Heat in that they’re a run-and-gun team, but at the same time, it’s still “give it to Melo or Amar’e, and you better make that three”.
Real teams have a true leader, not two pseudo-leaders who are pretending to be the sole leader. Real teams have actual bench players who are invested in the team as a whole and not just seeking a ring. Real teams are willing to listen to their coach, follow his advice and give in to his game plan for the good of the team.
The Celtics were a real team until Perkins was traded. They had an identity.
Miami, as well as New York, aren't real teams yet.
These super-teams could be good for the league. They could also harm the league, which is why these next few months are so important.
A lot rides on if the Heat win the championship.
A lot more rides on the next CBA and whether or not it would be financially possible for some of these future super-teams to exist.
Either way, it’ll be interesting the entire time.