There is never a dull moment when it comes to the NBA or the
conversations surrounding it. However, the loudest arguments have
become the most tiresome.
Here we are once again, discussing the subject of “super-teams.”
This is on the heels of Andre Drummond signing with the Los Angeles
Lakers after getting his contract bought out by the Cleveland
Cavaliers, as well as Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge joining
the Brooklyn Nets in a quest for a title. The big-man buyout market
was plentiful following this season’s trade deadline, and each
prominent player has now found a home.
Scrolling through social media, you’ll see all sorts of opinions
regarding a lack of parity among teams and guys not wanting to earn
it anymore. However, this year has been unlike any other, and
considering the wear and tear that Griffin and Aldridge have on
their legs, why wouldn’t they pick such an opportunity? It’s not as
if these two are in the middle of their prime and playing at an
All-Star level; they’re going to be playing 20-25 minutes at most
and are on the back nine of their careers. (Aldridge did look great
in 29 minutes of action in his Nets' debut, though).
Drummond is a unique case study when you think about his
dwindling market value, though with a starting spot wide open at
center and an opportunity to play with LeBron James, Anthony Davis
and the defending champions, it’s hardly a surprising choice to go
with the best fit over the money in the short-term. He’s betting on
himself to produce at a high level and maximize his status going
into a dried-up 2021 free-agent class.
Aside from the peculiar scenarios that have unfolded throughout
the league during this particular campaign, there has clearly been
an increase in these kinds of breakups recently, and they have
become more common; some are mutual, some can be ugly. It all seems
to tie into one giant, ugly debate that surfaces every time
significant transactions are made. Believe it or not, there is a
nuanced way to look at this from both angles.
Let’s start with player empowerment. It is a good thing, no
question. There's no reason why a player can’t go where he wants
when given the chance to choose a new home. Also, we don’t always
fairly look at organizational loyalty as a two-way street,
tarnishing a player over his desire to change teams much more often
than we criticize an organization that may have failed him.
Draymond Green made this excellent point (albeit using a poor
example with Drummond in Cleveland) regarding the rules surrounding
trade requests and how they are handled differently when it comes
from a player versus a team.
On the flip side, just as those players have the right to move
on, fans and media alike have the right to question their mindset,
as long as it is on a case-by-case basis and it is fair and
respectful. It is becoming increasingly common for fans to be
attached to one specific player rather than one particular
franchise. It seems the number of fans who are loyal to an
organization is waning.
While there are teams with an identity and familiarity that do
stay intact for more than a year or two, the constant shifting of
talent is making them somewhat of an exception to the rule. Diehard
fans in certain cities are gradually becoming turned off by the
product because of that actuality.
Super-teams are good for the NBA if you’re strictly talking
about ratings and entertainment. They’re not good for the 20+ other
teams in the league that are left on the outside looking in. Again,
sometimes these franchises have to look themselves in the mirror
and ask what they could have done better. Other times, they fall
victim and lose their best players to the immediacy demanded by not
only an impatient league audience, but also the mentality of those
players who adopt that line of thinking.
It goes back to this nonsensical “rings” culture and how many
media members and outlets define a “legacy.” Of course these guys
want to win a championship -- not everyone goes about it the same
way, though. We get so stuck on what “X” would look like as a
teammate with “Y” because the fantasy is usually close to the
reality. Hell, look at the pairing of LeBron and AD, or the Nets’
Big Three of James Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. There is
good reason for that; the flaw lies in believing that every single
player has the same mindset.
Look at Damian Lillard and Bradley Beal. Some fans see them as
foolish for not wanting to move on from the organizations that
drafted them. Besides the fact that the former has gotten a little
further in the playoffs than the latter, there’s not much of a
difference in the greatness each individual possesses. Their teams
haven’t gotten the job done yet to this point, but it’s not
stopping either of them from continuing to perform at an MVP level.
Question their priorities, their ways of handling their business
and refusal to attempt to join or form a super team as much as you
want, it’s likely not going to change their mindset at this point.
That’s true -- no matter how much the public attempts to goad
Many people are searching for what will happen in the future
instead of enjoying and living in the present. Have you heard
Giannis Antetokounmpo’s name lately? Even though he’s having a
spectacular season, you probably haven’t, more than likely because
he inked a super-max contract extension with his Milwaukee Bucks
this past December. Once pundits couldn’t ponder his once-assumed
free-agent decision in the summer of 2021, the Greek Freak
(ridiculously) became somewhat of an afterthought.
Basketball fans should be plenty aware of the Utah Jazz and
Phoenix Suns, the top two teams in the Western Conference, yet
you’ll barely hear a peep about them. Instead, the latest topic of
discussion floating around is Zion Williamson... and it's not about
his dominance right now (unless you read our Nekias Duncan’s
amazing film study of his
breakout) -- but rather because radio and television hosts are
already looking ahead to when Zion becomes a free agent in freaking
2023, because how can Zion be seen unless he’s in a big market?
(*Looks up the 2020-21 NBA national television schedule... sees 28
games featuring the New Orleans Pelicans*).
It’s almost a guarantee that the same conversations will happen
with Luka Doncic, Ja Morant and every other promising youngster
(Sidenote: At the risk of being that person who complains about
a team not receiving enough love, somebody has to stand up for the
little guys, a.k.a. the smaller-market ballclubs. There are 30
teams in this league. Why should only one-fifth of those matter,
especially when half of the top-10 teams in the league play in a
This is the very kind of nonsense that ties into the exhaustion
of having the same discourse over and over and over again. It’s
repetitive, played out, unoriginal and lazy -- and yes, this
article is proof that the strategy to elicit a reaction worked;
still, the point remains.
Different sports are talked about in a number of ways, but none
of them are more transactionally focused than the NBA.
Looking on the other side of the coin, it’s just as unreasonable
to call out the players who gave their all to an organization and
want to turn to the next chapter of their careers. (How it's
handled can be a topic another day, and again, should be looked at
on a case-by-case basis, not generalized). Like it or not, a change
of scenery is necessary in more situations than you’d think. The
same goes for the organizations that benefit from these players
being available -- what on Earth should be holding them back?
As much as people kick and scream about the same things like a
broken record, it’s probably not going away anytime soon because
that’s the place we’re in today. It’s only going to get louder,
The truth is, every player is free to decide where and under
what circumstances they want to pursue their championships. Teams
are free to choose to cut bait with a player and move in another
direction, but at this point, it’s getting harder to ignore the
fact that “rings" culture and the unfair labeling of players as
failures for not winning championships is as much to blame for the
formation of super-teams as players simply looking to take the
“easy way” out.
Something does need to change, but maybe we – fans and media
alike – are at least partially responsible for what we’ve been
Maybe, at least to some extent, we should be looking in the