“There’s no way, with hindsight, I would’ve ever called up Larry [Bird], called up Magic [Johnson] and said, ‘Hey, look, let’s get together and play on one team. But that’s … things are different. I can’t say that’s a bad thing. It’s an opportunity these kids have today. In all honesty, I was trying to beat those guys. I’m a competitive guy and I like to play against competitive players and see what happens from there.” – Michael Jordan
The NBA has become nothing more than a grand-scale league of playground basketball, and I don’t like it.
We have now entered an era where all of the power is in the hands of the players, especially the superstar players. Stars are demanding trades, holding their teams hostage, and praying for the chance to one day play with their buddies, who ironically enough are superstars themselves.
The Miami Heat are the main instigators of this movement. Once Lebron James decided to join his chums Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in South Beach, then the era became official. To compete with these 3 stars, the rest of the league was going to have to join forces in an attempt to take them down. The NBA was going to be Miami’s for the taking unless other teams followed in their footsteps and got themselves numerous elite-level players to knock the Heat off of their pedestal.
We have already started to see signs of that same assemblage of talent yet again. During the 2010-11 season, the New York Knicks basically traded half of their roster to acquire Carmelo Anthony from the Denver Nuggets, giving newly signed free-agent Amare Stoudemire a fellow star to play with. Now entering the 2011-12 season, arguably the best Point Guard in the entire league in Chris Paul has come out and asked for a trade to the Big Apple to join Amare and Carmelo.
Does anyone in the league have any guts anymore? Does anyone in the league have any self-pride? Why is it that everyone feels that they have to do this? Apparently, no one has the competitive drive to take their team by the horns and lead them to the promise land as an individual and as a leader anymore.
The promising thing is that teams like the Heat can be defeated. Just look at last years NBA finals when the Heat lost in 6 games to the Dallas Mavericks. Dallas had a leader/star in Dirk Nowitzki, as well as a deep roster of solid young players and savvy veterans who were once all-stars in their own right. They had no problem handling the Big-Three in Miami. So this notion that you must get together with other elite players in the league to win a championship is lunacy and completely ridiculous. Having the talent doesn’t necessarily mean you will win a championship.
I am very surprised and disappointed to hear that Chris Paul has told his agent to get him a trade to New York. One day your hearing that Paul’s heart is with the great city of New Orleans, and then days later Paul is requesting a trade to the Knicks. If I were running the Hornets, I would not give in to his request. First of all, New York doesn’t have the talent and/or draft picks to justify trading Chris Paul over to them anyways. It would also be nice to hear someone from the Hornets organization just come out and say that they will not give in to any demands. It is painfully obvious that Chris Paul is going to leave New Orleans regardless, but that doesn’t mean that he has to go to the Knicks. If the Hornets can find a better deal elsewhere, like say in L.A for example, then go for it. Just find the best possible trade offer you can and then go from there. But don’t feel like it has to be New York just to please CP3.
Also, what happens now to all of the young teams in small markets who don’t have the resources to contend with teams like this? Well, they have to work their rosters up through drafting and finding the next big thing in the NBA themselves, because that is their only chance. Teams like Toronto, Charlotte and Minnesota won’t be luring any big names to their respective cities any day soon, so I hope they know what they’re doing as far as scouting and drafting new players goes.
I had a similar problem years back when the Boston Celtics decided to have their own Big-Three in Pierce, Allen and Garnett. The big difference I see here is that those 3 tried for years and years to win on their own, and entering their mid-thirties, they decided enough was enough. They gave their blood, sweat and tears for their franchises (Wolves, Sonics, Celtics), and earned the right in my mind to say hey, I want to win a championship before my career is over. Guys like James, Paul, Carmelo and Bosh are all young. They have little mileage on them, and can continue to compete at a high level for 10-12 more years if they stay healthy. It is like they decided to give up at 25 and 26 years of age. If you want to join forces when your careers are dwindling down and all you want is a ring, then go for it. But you are all top 10 players in the NBA today. Why do this now? It tarnishes your individual legacies by not establishing yourselves as championship-level players on your own. It is pathetic.
It just makes me nauseous to think that this is the NBA of today. There is no competitive balance. It is just a handful of NBA Superstars who think they can call their own shots and play where ever they see fit. The Spurs, Lakers and Celtics are all getting older, and won’t be able to fight off teams like the Knicks and Heat for much longer. This is the harsh reality we live in. The NBA has to step in and do something about this. Wasn’t this one of the major issues talked about during the Lockout. It doesn’t look like any of it will change, as teams and players will just find new and exiting ways to beat the system, even if it means cutting half of your roster to get the player you want.
Just get used to seeing the Heat and (if the Paul scenario comes true) the Knicks deep in the playoffs and winning championships for a long, long time.
Welcome to the era of NBA Playground Basketball.
What is your take on the issue of superstar players joining forces and playing together? Is it unfair? Do you respect players who make that decision? Let me know how you feel.