By: Will Stevenson
Blog Question: Who’s fault is it for the SuperTeam: The League, the players, the teams, the generation?
Blog motivation: *Scene from Belly. Perm. Banana*
I’ll admit it: I don’t watch Warriors games. Well, I watched the first few weeks when they were getting things together and losing a few games, but now that everything seems to be running in place, I’ve lost interest. I tuned in the other night when the Warriors were playing the Pelicans on the road. It was the third quarter and the Pelicans had the advantage, the crowd was in a frenzy and the Pelicans players were as hype as they were when they faced off in the playoffs a few years back. I didn’t believe in the lead though. I had no doubt the Warriors would come back and win the game. I know it’s the regular season and sometimes the really good teams will put up a stinker on the road, but I didn’t care about the facts. I knew the Warriors would win it in the end, and even if they didn’t, it would not matter to anyone (other than the fans that drove hundreds of miles for the experience). I rarely catch many Cavaliers games, even though Lebron is a mater of the game and they play an uptempo game that I like to watch. So why don’t I watch these “Superteams”?
I’ve been a Hornets supporter since I can remember. Larry Johnson, Mugsy Bogues, Kendall Gill, Alonzo Mourning, Baron Davis; The good old days. Never once have I gone into an NBA season thinking “Championship or bust”. I can’t even remember a time when the Hornets were considered superior to the other teams. The Hornets are a middle of the road team that plays well. They don’t have a dominating star, although Kemba Walker is ascending every season. The Hornets, like other Carolina teams, don’t spend much on players, nor do they attract free agents. This is odd to me because players, coaches, and people want to stay/retire/vacation here, just not play here. The talk of this offseason is the dream that Steph Curry would sign here once he becomes a free agent this summer, allowing others to choose Charlotte as the next SuperTeam destination. I would agree there is pride in being a fan of a team that dominates the competition week in and week out, and in reverse there is pride in defeating said team. From a viewing experience, I like to see the Pelicans or the Magic take their game to a higher level when they play an elite team, all the while knowing they will toss up a dud against the Heat on a random Saturday night.
I’m conflicted on the SuperTeam concept, because if the Thunder would have defeated the Warriors in the Conference Finals, what would have been the talk? If the Warriors of last year were a SuperTeam, what about the Thunder? Were the Thunder not a team composed of two of the top 10 players in the league? Is that not Super? I look at the NBA in the long run: I need some real intrigue during the playoffs. I want the Cavaliers to sweat and possibly lose. I want the Warriors to sweat and possibly lose. I know you need two and a possible stars to hold up the trophy these days, and as much as we talk about the Spurs being a “boring” team, they have that. So are they not a SuperTeam? Since their run began in 1999, they have the potential to have five Hall of Famers during that span: (Robinson, Duncan, Parker, and Ginobli and Leonard based on trajectory). Yes, Leonard was a trade in the making, but that’s five drafted Hall of Famers in a 20 year span. When I watch the Spurs play, I expect them to win. The same goes for the Warriors and the Cavaliers. I don’t expect any other team in the East to reach the Finals as long as Lebron is there and I only expect the Warriors and the Spurs to represent the West. That’s three teams in real contention this year, and the year before, and the year before that. Even before the Warriors had Durant, we still expected them to be a Finals contender, and wherever Durant landed he would have made that team a Conference Finals contender.
I don’t hate the Warriors, the Cavaliers or the Spurs. I really don’t. I just want some sort of competitive balance with the system that is in place. The playoffs don’t allow inferior teams to pull upsets or make it to the Finals. They can get to the second round, or even the conference finals, but not the Finals. And yes, I do remember the Knicks of the lockout season and that will never happen again, nor will the Magic who took down the Cavaliers and lost to the Lakers. So when I read the articles of Kristaps Porzingas being a player that can lure free agents, or the Lakers having a core to lure big-time free agents, I wonder why they would want to do it that way. As long as Lebron is here, and the Warriors and Spurs are operating at a high level, you have no chance. The Clippers have been at this for years and run into the same problem: Better teams. The Bulls, Raptors, Celtics, and Hawks are just a few of the teams that will never get past Lebron and whatever team he is on. My Hornets will never see the NBA Finals because of this SuperTeam structure.
The problem isn’t the SuperTeam. The problem is the concept of these regular teams. Win games, make the playoffs, make revenue and draft well. As long as these teams are rolling, they won’t see the Finals or even get close, so firing your coach after four straight 50 win seasons or trading away players that have become stale is just another carousel that the SuperTeam has imposed on the league. For some reason, the Blazers got too cute in the offseason after realizing the loss of LaMarcus Aldridge was a plus in making. The Suns thought signing Tyson Chandler would bring Aldridge to the Suns: Not. The Knicks are still drowning from the Melo/Kidd team that lost it all after those threes wouldn’t fall. The Heat invested in Goran Dragic, Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside once Lebron left. The Nets sold their soul but forgot to ask for the shoe size. The Sixers threw away talent to get Embid, but left Michael Carter Williams, Jrue Holiday, Andre Iguodala, Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor and Doug Collins in the wind to do it.
So maybe I’m envious of these SuperTeams. Maybe I look at my current team and think, “Why can’t we do that”? Maybe I’m naive to think all teams want to win the championship. They can’t be in it to make a profit because almost all of the NBA teams don’t turn a profit yearly. I look at draft choices, free agent signings, team construction, coaching staffs and player usage to figure out what are these teams trying to do: They’re trying. That’s it.
So as long as the Warriors, Spurs, and Lebron are here, all of these other teams should just prepare for when they are on the way out. Stay put, draft well, stock up and don’t fire your coach. Just stick around long enough until the SuperTeam dies out and then you’ll have your chance. Who knows, maybe you’re just a player away that’s under contract with another team, but he’ll come to your team because he went to college in the state in which you reside.