Saturday Morning Rant: “Parity” in the NBA

I’m going to start this off by saying that I’m not a massive fan of basketball. I keep up with it, but I don’t actively watch and I’m not really paying too much attention unless the Raptors are in the playoffs. But once again, something’s happened that drives me a little crazy when it comes to sports:

The formation of super-teams where multiple superstars converge on a single team in hopes of running roughshod over teams for a championship ring.

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The Miami Heat were the biggest example. Two major superstar players in Chris Bosh and Lebron James simultaneously left their respective teams that they were supposed to be mainstays on and went to join Dwayne Wade in creating the ultimate team in the new Miami Heat and ended up winning back-to-back NBA Championships in 2012 and 2013. People absolutely despised this team and if you weren’t a Miami Heat fan, you wanted that team to lose every single game.

Now this is looking to happen again with Kevin Durant joining Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors. Or at least that’s what people are drawing this move as. Personally, I look at this move on Durant’s part as honestly a desire of getting a championship ring under his belt and nothing more. It’s not meant to make the Warriors a super-team, a dynasty, I just think Durant is sick of coming so close to a championship and failing in Oklahoma City. The team should’ve been in the NBA Finals this year and blew a 3-1 series lead to the Warriors. It’s arguable that the Thunder could’ve beaten the Cavaliers in the Finals, but who knows. Either way, I imagine he’s beyond frustrated with how many times he’s finished oh so close and has left with nothing to show for it.

But I absolutely understand those who are frustrated with his decision to join what already was the best team in NBA history last season, finishing with the best regular season record ever and coming one game from back-to-back NBA Championships. Did this team need Kevin Durant? Absolutely not! Does the best team in NBA history need another superstar player? Of course not! But that’s what has happened and unfortunately we will have to suffer with this for a couple of years at least.

I personally do not like dynasties, while I understand the importance of them. But I cannot stand the same teams being in the finals of a sports league, the same person winning major championships. Here’s a few examples from my lifetime so far:

  • Michael Schumacher – Five-straight F1 Championships (2000-2004)
  • New York Yankees – Four World Series victories in five years (1996, 1998, 1999, 2000), thirteen playoff appearances in the new millennium
  • New England Patriots – Three Super Bowl victories in four years (2001, 2003, 2004), six Super Bowl appearances and thirteen playoff appearance in the new millennium
  • San Francisco Giants – Three World Series victories since 2010 (2010, 2012, 2014)
  • Los Angeles Lakers – Four NBA Championships in five years (2000, 2001, 2002, 2004)
  • San Antonio Spurs – Five NBA Championships since 1999 (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014) and 18-straight playoff appearances since 1998
  • Detroit Red Wings – 25-straight NHL playoff appearances since 1991, four Stanley Cup victories (1997, 1998, 2002, 2008)

And this is all in professional leagues, not even counting international success like Canada in hockey and Spain’s recent world soccer success. I am not a fan of the same teams winning championships and being in the finals of the playoffs. It’s why currently, the NHL is probably the most interesting sports league in America, as it’s a rarity to see the same team even in the Stanley Cup Finals two years in a row, let alone winning back-to-back championships.

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Now I know what you’re thinking. Adam, you’re a Toronto sports fan, of course you think this way, none of your teams have had playoff success since the Blue Jays in 1993. And that is true, however I can confidently say that if any Toronto team like the Blue Jays, Raptors or even the Maple Leafs (though it’s the Leafs, I’ve got nothing to worry about) won the championship three straight times or even three times in five years, I’d be bored by championship #3. Why? Simply because the chase is always better than the reign. Believe me, that first championship victory, if it ever happens, I will be jumping for joy and screaming until my voice is gone. Championship #2, I’ll be pretty stoked about it. But by championship #3, the feeling’s gone, I’ve experienced that flood of emotions twice already, it’s no longer the same pure joy and awe as #1 and #2, it’s now become a “All right! We won again. Cool.”. Obviously there are sports fans that would have the same reaction even after ten straight championships, but for me, two is enough and then I’d prefer seeing someone else get a win.

It’s why I’m even happy that teams I don’t like have won recently. I don’t like Lebron James, but I’m happy for the city of Cleveland to finally have a sports championship victory since the Indians in 1948. I hate the Kansas City Royals, but it was cool to see the team finally win a World Series after a 30-year wait. It’s why even when the Boston Red Sox finally won a World Series, it was cool and it’ll be amazing when the Cubs finally break the now oldest winless streak in sports. Other cool upsets exist in the UEFA Euro tournament with Denmark in 1992 and Greece in 2004 winning the tournament. It’s always cool seeing new faces winning trophies, not the same teams over and over again.

So in the NBA with how things have been running since the Miami Heat’s Big 3, the NBA’s really suffering from a lack of parity. The same teams seem to win and win a lot, teams like the Spurs keep hanging around and whenever a team wins a championship, it’s almost a guarantee they’ll make at least the Conference finals the following year. But the again, it’s a money game in the NBA so there’s realistically nothing that can be done about it, unless team’s increase their payrolls or get lucky in the draft and make use of their two-year window. The same goes for Major League Baseball and the NFL, because of a lack of a hard salary cap there will always be teams that spend their way to playoff success.

It’s why I love the NHL, regardless of the fact Canadian teams suck the biggest bag of dicks right now. Team like the San Jose Sharks, the Los Angeles Kings, the Minnesota Wild, they all have a chance to eventually have playoff success. Draft well, sign good free agents, make the right trades and you can win a Stanley Cup. Major League Baseball? Just spend $350 million every year, you’ve got a 50/50 shot.

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