Sunday, December 4, 2011

NBA Owner's Logic Doesn't Work

I get what the NBA owners are saying. They need a league where every team has a chance to do well and get to the playoffs and get a ring and all that jazz. It sounds great. Sounds fantastic. I mean, it works in the NFL where you can have New Orleans and Indianapolis play for a championship and no one bats an eye. A league where Green Bay can be the latest dynasty.

Too bad it's not a great idea for the NBA, though. And history proves it.

First off, the NFL is a different beast. They pull in twice the cheese that the NBA does and have more lucrative and centralized TV contracts. While the NBA has national contracts with ESPN/ABC and Turner Sports, each team has to sell their local rights. Obviously, the Knicks and Lakers are worth more than the Kings and Hornets. NFL teams don't have to worry about that.

Plus football is followed much more passionately than the NBA.

Second off, NBA's own history proves this doesn't make all the sense in the world. I mean, what is the golden era in the NBA? The 1960s? The 1980s? The 1990s? Depending on who you talk to, all of those eras qualify. And what were those eras defined by?


In the 1960s, the Boston Celtics won 9 of the 10 championships. Those Celtics beat the Lakers six times in those Finals. The other four Finals losers were the Warriors and Hawks (the Sixers won the only other title).

In the 1980s, the Lakers (5) and Celtics (3) combined for eight titles. The Sixers won one title and the Pistons won the other (the first of back-to-back championships). In those 10 Finals, the Lakers went to 8 of them. Boston went to five.

The 1990s were dominated by the Bulls. Chicago won six titles, Houston won two. The Pistons and Spurs dynasties bookended the decade.

The last era of anyone-can-do-it was the 1970s. Though there are fond memories of that decade, it doesn't bring on the love like the decades surrounding it. The Celtics and Knicks were the only franchises to win multiple titles in the 1970s. The Bullets, Bucks, Lakers, Warriors, Blazers and Sonics each won it once. No dynasties, no love.

Now will the New NBA yield this same parity? Probably not. Hopefully not. While fans in Sacramento, Memphis, Utah, Charlotte and Orlando want to see their franchises do well, it doesn't really help the NBA all that much.

One of the issues is the NBA itself. Back in the 1980s, there were only 21 teams (there are 30 now). That made the talent level not as spread out as it is ... or has to be ... today. Sure, we didn't have any Miami Heat back then, but we didn't have Toronto, Memphis/Vancouver, Minnesota or New Orleans/Charlotte either.

I'm not into contraction, but you have to point out that 9 extra teams means at least 108 extra players in the league and some of your stars stuck in wastelands. I mean, everyone is going gaga over the "Big Threes" of the Celtics, Heatles or the Knicks hopes of landing Chris Paul to go with Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire. Well, the 1980s Lakers had Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy (all Hall Of Famers; all No. 1 overall picks). The 1980s Celtics had Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish and Dennis Johnson (all HOFers). The 1960s Celtics were loaded with HOFers. The second half of the Chicago Bulls dynasty had HOFers Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman. Rodman was also one of three HOFers on the Pistons back-to-back title teams (Joe Dumars and Isiah Thomas were the others).

Since then, it hasn't been the same. Those early 2000s Lakers had Shaq and Kobe ... two of the greatest players to ever play basketball. The Spurs only superduperstar is Tim Duncan.

Only one champion in the 2000s has three HOF players.
2000-2002 Lakers: Shaq, Kobe
2003, 2005, 2007 Spurs: Tim Duncan
2004 Pistons: No one
2006 Heat: Dwyane Wade, Shaq
2008 Celtics: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen
2009-2010 Lakers: Kobe
2011 Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki

Even the Finals runners-up weren't stacked ... other than the last two and a bust of a team in 2004.

2000 Pacers: Reggie Miller
2001 Sixers: Allen Iverson
2002-2003 Nets: Jason Kidd
2004 Lakers: Shaq, Kobe, Karl Malone, Gary Payton

2005 Pistons: No one

2006 Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki
2007 Cavaliers: LeBron James
2008 Lakers: Kobe
2009 Magic: Dwight Howard
2010 Celtics: KG, Allen and Pierce
2011 Heat: LeBron, Wade

Point is, there is no reason to get up in arms that star players are teaming up. The only difference is the stars are making this happen and not owners or GMs. So step back on whining about these megateams.

1 comment:

Laurie Edwards said...

Excellent article. Your writing has improved dramatically, Sportz. I always learn stuff when I read your work.