Superteams damage the NBA

The way professional sports are designed is that teams ideally have to work hard and train to improve in order to give them a better chance of winning a championship. However, I feel that this ancient philosophy has been neglected by the modern NBA.

With the NBA’s full-on embrace of superteams, the value of winning a ring has gone down. 

I would characterize a superteam as a team that has at least two or three superstar-level athletes who decided to join the same team with the safety net of knowing they would be a top contender for a championship. Anyone who knows anything about the NBA knows that the Golden State Warriors have been an elite superteam over the last few years. Making it to five straight NBA Finals is impressive, but does it deserve all the praise? I’m not saying what they accomplished was meaningless or unimportant, but it was cheap. 

I’m not upset with the Warriors when they had Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green as the “big three.” Those guys were drafted to Golden State and formed a great team. However, with the addition of players like Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins, the Warriors’s inevitable success only left a bitter taste in my mouth. It’s one thing to take young players and mold them into champions, but it’s different to be a superstar yourself and leave your team that was a contender for a championship and join the team that knocked yours out of the running. 

The Warriors aren’t the only guilty party here. There have been superteams for decades, but I think it’s worse in this generation. A big portion of the blame can be given to the greatest player of all time: Lebron James. Going to eight straight NBA Finals is no small feat, but joining a team he already knew was going to dominate wouldn’t have been as admirable as staying on a weaker team and working to better himself and his teammates on the path to greatness. As this generation’s most looked-up-to player, James has set a negative example that other players have picked up on. Only hours after joining the Los Angeles Lakers, James was followed by high-profile players such as JaVale McGee, Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo and Michael Beasley. This exemplifies the mindset that today’s great teams are made by already great players coming together instead of great players pushing their teams to improve and compete against each other to see who truly is the greatest. 

Watching an NBA where players have no team loyalty and win rings solely for the sake of having a new ring is not the kind of NBA viewers should seek. Perhaps the most exciting thing about the NBA is watching the greatest players of our generation battling against one another — one team can win one game, but the other team could win the next two. Watching all of the best players in the league playing together against some mediocre team just isn’t what the NBA was designed to be.