“I don’t think it’s good for the league, just to be really clear. I will say whoever is the prohibitive favorite, try telling that to the 430 other players who aren’t on those two teams. I mean, we have the greatest collection of basketball players in the world in our league, and so I’m not making any predictions, but there’s no question, when you aggregate a group of great players, they have a better chance of winning than many other teams….But just to be absolutely clear, I do not think that’s ideal from a league standpoint.”
Those are the words NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who works at the pleasure of the NBA owners, many of whom are not happy that there are a couple dominant, clear favorite teams in the NBA heading into next season (mostly because it’s not their team, but that’s another discussion).
Not all the owners feel that way. Here is what Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told Tim MacMahon of ESPN.
“They become the villain,” Cuban told ESPN on Wednesday, a day after Silver indicated that changes in the collective bargaining agreement are needed to prevent similar situations from developing in the future. “Just like when LeBron James went to Miami, I loved that there was a villain. They become the villain. I’m fine with that. Everybody’s going to root for them to lose.”
The history of the league backs Cuban.
When was the NBA’s television ratings the highest and the league most popular? When Michael Jordan led one dominant team that was the clear favorite to win a title every season. Other fans look at the 1980s as the golden age of the NBA — when there were two dominant teams (the Lakers and Celtics) that often met in the Finals in epic clashes.
Not when there was great parity in the league, although there were other good teams in those eras. The NBA is most popular when it has great stars clustered on a couple of teams.
Silver is right to push for a system where any well-managed team has a shot to become a contender, regardless of market size. The stars should be able to cluster anywhere they choose. But that is a different thing than saying the talent pool should be flattened out — that’s not what makes the NBA popular.