Faceoff Joe

Joesph Pugliese


The NBA has always been a league run by stars.  Great teams always have great Stars that carry their team almost single handedly to the playoffs and beyond.  Very few teams have been dominant or even major contenders in the last couple of decades without having that one big star, maybe the 01-02 Sacramento Kings, the 04-05 Pistons and last year’s 76ers.  The pistons had a bunch of very good players never stars in the traditional sense and the only one of those teams to win a championship.

Recent years in the NBA have been characterized by a “big 3” or Super teams.  One star gets you to the playoffs, two stars gets you deep into the playoffs and three can come close to conference final or a championship caliber year.  The Heat, Celtics, Lakers and Spurs all under this formula have won 12 of the last 14 years and dominated basketball.  The Lakers this year have even gone as far to a big 4!!  This idea of gathering stars and letting them control the game with mediocre role players has worked almost too well in a game that is supposed to reward great teamwork and coaching.  This also creates an environment where since 1984 only nine different teams have won an NBA championship.  The lack of disparity mixed with an awful cap structure that benefits big market teams causes half the teams in the league to suffer losses instead of profits year to year.  The soft cap allows team to add pieces in free agency but also go over the cap if they resign players already on their roster up to the hard cap, this is great in theory but allows for the Heat to have three max contract players because Dwayne Wade was already part of the heat allowing them to exceed the soft cap with his contract.

There are simply not enough Stars to go around in the league, stars flee small market teams that drafted them in free agency for big markets.  They love endorsement deals and the lights and the fact that they are hot spots for other stars to get them that ring.  The way the NBA works a star is not a star unless they get that immortal stature of champion.  There are only 4 MVPs in league history without an NBA Championship; Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Steve Nash and Derrick Rose. Rose still very young and Nash is on the Lakers who have a big 4 and a big chance to win it all this year.

The cap situation and the glamour of the bright lights and championship pressure on big stars to win is why we have these super teams.  The draft is not like the NFL stars are only available in the first few picks before the talent drops off severely, very rarely does a star come outside the top 20 picks.  Can you blame Lebron or Carmelo or any other star for leaving their small markets to chase that ring?  When there’s so much pressure to win it, and your career is not legitimized until you win that ring?  Super Teams are saving the NBA as much as they hurt it.