There are few groups that look better alone. Wu-Tang was the exception. Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. Supreme Clientele. Liquid Swords. Ironman. Tical. I could say they got lucky. History points to luck. But The Chef, Ghost, Method Man, ODB and all the rest, if you put that many unique and wild imaginations into one pot, the resulting chemistry is almost too much. Explosive. Each one of them needed their own spotlight. They all needed to branch out, explore their inner Shaolin, get down with other crews, see how far they could push their style. Word is bond.
I’ve always thought the biggest problem for the relationship between the regular common folk and professional athletes is we look at them through a fantasy prism. It’s not real life to us, as if all the money in the world helps extremely talented people to cease being human beings at all. There’s only one Dwyane Wade in the world, in the entire world (at least I think). But that doesn’t change things. There’s no wall keeping us enclosed, and them out in some far off land. They don’t hail from Moron Mountain. If a player leaves a team, fans feel betrayed. Is he not allowed to go somewhere else? Is he not allowed to live in another city if he wants to? That really sounds too simple. But to me, it is.
If you defend a superstar’s inclinations, you get criticized for wanting others to feel sorry for them. Not at all. I’m just not standing on a high enough podium to judge people. Super teams aren’t anything new, and I don’t see anything wrong with them.
What are the worst arguments I hear against them?
I know it’s a tired clichÃ© at this point, but really, loyalty? In sports? Where players are traded on whims; where careers can last three years. Or four. Or one week. In the NFL, without the guarantees professional basketball players enjoy – contracts, more endorsement opportunities and most of all, health – it’s even worse. Get your money and get out, hopefully without a brain that ends up as mush. While not quite as drastic, the NBA still has the same ideals. Once your talent leaves, once the crowds stop showing up for you, it won’t matter. Business is business in any avenue, and there is absolutely no loyalty in multi-billion dollar industries. Loyalty will get you killed.
Did LeBron really owe Cleveland anything? He made everyone money. He made the franchise relevant. He did what he could to bring a long-suffering franchise as close to a championship as they’ve ever been. They paid him handsomely for it, but it takes the IQ of a crumb-hungry bird to realize he held up his end of the bargain. The means by which he left weren’t right. The ends can be justified rather easily.
But then again, this is opening up a whole other level of contradiction, like “Athletes are only in it for the money.” Um… yeah. So what? They get what they want. We get what we want. The game long ago morphed from some playground, I got next run to something else entirely. We don’t always want to grasp that.
2) No one back in the day did this
Partly, this is true, but more because they couldn’t. Free agency was a shell of what it is now, and with the talent pool so congested, stars could look to the next locker stall and pin a glance on another All-Star. It’s ironic there are so many people pissed off about super teams because not only does it drive the focus, pressure and spotlight through the roof (as we saw last season), it was also like this during the NBA’s heyday.
Bird never did this? Oh that’s right. He only played with Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson and Danny Ainge to name a few.
Magic never did this? The Showtime Lakers eighth men during their title runs probably could’ve started on just about any other team.
Jordan never did this? He only played with perhaps the most versatile defender of all time, probably the greatest rebounder of all time and played for the greatest coach of all time.
Those guys never did this? None of them had to.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen transcendant talents team up. Oscar Robertson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did it back in the day. 1970. They won a title in their first year together. Many of the game greatest players played with a revolving door of Hall of Famers.
Now expecting it and embracing it are two different things. You have to feel bad for the small market teams who lose out on free agents to bigger cities, or worse, watch one of their own skip town. It’s a parental experience. You watch them grow up, hit puberty, get suspended from school for the first time for doing something stupid, see how they completely struggle with some things and immediately take to others, and then eventually, you walk down the hallway and peek into their room and it’s empty. They went off and got their own place or they went to college. It all sounds a little too much like a feeder system, the minor-to-major league jump. But in reality, with this much money at stake, it pretty much is whether we want it to be or not.
3) It’s ruining the game
Considering the Lakers and Celtics have combined for over half of the NBA’s championships, it doesn’t seem like a new super team is going to change things. Parity is fleeting, and even a long lockout won’t change that.
I’ve already made my arguments about what’s ruining the game. The charge call for one. Stopping super teams isn’t on my mind. I’d rather see three All-Stars play together, and challenge what the greatest teams ever have done. Watching Amar’e, Carmelo Anthony and possibly Chris Paul isn’t quite the same as watching Elgin Baylor, Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain together. But I’d like to think it’s close.
For years, I’ve heard the NBA’s product is watered down. Too many highlights and too few fundamentals. Can’t stick a jumper but can jump 40 inches. I’ve heard the talent is spread too thin, that we’ll never get back to the good old days. If that’s the case, why is everyone complaining about this?
Do you agree with this? How do you feel about “super teams?”
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