Stephen A. Smith Blames LeBron James for Star Players Teaming Together

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst IIIMarch 30, 2021

FILE - In this June 21, 2013, file photo, the Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade, left, holds the Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy as LeBron James holds his Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award and Chris Bosh, top, reacts after Game 7 of the NBA basketball championship against the San Antonio Spurs, in Miami. There have been superteams that found winning formulas, like Miami when James and Bosh joined Wade. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)
Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

ESPN's Stephen A. Smith blamed LeBron James for the number of star players teaming up around the NBA recently—an issue that Smith says reached new heights when James joined the Miami Heat in 2010 as a free agent.

In Monday's episode of First Take, Smith noted players began recruiting each other much more intensely after James' decision to team up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami.

Yet superteams have existed in the NBA long before James arrived in the league.

Even before James went to the Heat to team up with Wade and Bosh, the Boston Celtics built their own championship team by adding Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to a lineup built around Paul Pierce. Even the Chicago Bulls dynasty in the 1990s went out of its way to grab Dennis Rodman, Toni Kukoc and Luc Longley.

Before then it was the Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers in an arms race.

If it's not players deciding to team up, it's the teams themselves doing everything they can to build their own uber-talented rosters. In today's age of AAU and travel ball, most high-level basketball players have been around each other at tournaments from youth to college to the pros. It's no surprise those kids build relationships and then go on to try to play with each other in the pros.

This phenomenon isn't unique to the NBA or to James' era. It's just become a bit more intense over the last decade.