Count me in.
Today, I officially got on the super team train.
Bring ‘em on, I say. The more the merrier.
Some people say they weaken the league. I say that’s hogwash. A trio of stars on one team is nothing but interesting. For everyone. The fans, the league, the networks and, yes, for competition.
This is now a topic because less than two weeks after the NBA lockout was lifted, star players went right back to throwing around their weight and orchestrating their way out of their small towns and on to big-market teams with other big-time talents. I’m speaking, of course, about Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. Though the scenario was originally floated by Mark Heisler 10 days ago, trade rumors that would land both Howard and Paul in Los Angeles to team up with Kobe Bryant are now heating up and seemingly becoming more realistic by the hour.
And you know what? I would pay to see that team. And most of you who are NBA fans would, too. Whether you’re rooting for them, against them or perhaps just want to see what they’re capable of, you’d be glued to the tube. Television ratings would go through the rough for Christmas games and the All-Star Game and the NBA Finals. Which, isn’t that the point of sports to begin with? To entertain us? To give us an outlet? To provide something we can come together with as a community to share and support?
Put arguably the league’s best point guard (Paul) with arguably the game’s best shooting guard (Bryant) with undoubtedly the world’s best center (Howard) and you’ve created 82 games (or 66) of non-stop excitement. We’d be talking about a season filled with alley-oops and game-winners and 20-assists nights and triple-doubles and a six-month-long block party. More than that, we’d be talking about championships. Plural. A trio like that would immediately have the makings of a dynasty-caliber team. Howard and Paul, both 26, could easily carry the 33-year-old Kobe for three title runs.
But here’s the best part. The Lakers wouldn’t be guaranteed anything. There’s enough quality teams throughout the league, including right here in Oklahoma City, that L.A. could combine those three All-World players and still fall short. Take a look at some of the core units that have blossomed throughout the NBA.
Atlanta: Joe Johnson, Josh Smith and Al Horford.
Boston: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
Chicago: Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng.
L.A. Clippers: Eric Gordon, Caron Butler and Blake Griffin
Memphis: Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.
Miami: Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh.
New York: Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and (reportedly) Tyson Chandler
Oklahoma City: Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka
San Antonio: Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan.
Not all of those names are superstars, and it’d be a stretch to say each of those teams are super teams. But throw the Lakers in there — whether with their current nucleus of Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, or with Paul, Bryant and Howard — and you’re staring at 10 teams that have cores to compete with anyone in the league. That’s one-third of the league. And it just so happens to be an even split of teams from each conference. So much for the idea of the NBA needing more competitive balance.
And it’s not like the remaining 20 franchises are fresh meat for the top 10 to feast on. Dallas, for example, won the title last year. All the Mavs had was Dirk Nowitzki and a bunch of role players, albeit really good ones. As you go down the line, you’ll find plenty of teams with superb young talent. Teams like Washington, Utah, Toronto, Sacramento and Golden State. The lottery has been structured to help those teams strike gold and land another potential star to add to their stable. Some day, and perhaps some day soon, those teams can join the league’s most talented 10.
In the meantime, it’s the top 10 that will keep us coming back. Keep us glued to our TV sets. Keep us reaching for our wallets to pony up for tickets and NBA League Pass.
So bring on the super teams. I want to seem them. And you do, too.