“I’ve read several stories suggesting that that’s something that the league wants, this notion of two super teams, that it’s a huge television attraction. I don’t think it’s good for the league, just to be really clear.”
That was NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, talking about Kevin Durant‘s move to the Golden State Warriors. While the main battle during the Collective Bargaining Agreement talks was about money (make no mistake, that is always topic No. 1, and frankly No. 2 and No. 3), a sideline was Silver’s push for “competitive balance.” To flatten out the NBA’s talent pool. To give everyone a chance. Parity of a sort. That was a stated goal.
Clippers guard J.J. Redick is having none of what Silver is selling.
Redick nails it in those last two tweets.
There have always been superteams in the NBA — and those have been good for the NBA. When was the NBA the most popular? When Jordan’s Bulls were clear and away the best team in the land and 29 other teams played catch-up. The golden age of the 1980s saw two superteams that often met in epic Finals clashes. It keeps going back to the Celtics of the 1960s.
What is different about the Heat and Warriors’ superteams is that fans see them as not “organic” — rather than being put together by wealthy white owners and GMs pulling invisible strings, the players themselves made conscious choices and controlled their own destiny. That kind of player power clearly bothers some people. We’re not bothered by the superteams of the past, but now it’s a problem? What changed? Players chose them, they took charge of their own fate. “Larry Bird never left the Celtics” arguments are foolish because before 1988 there was no free agency as we understand it in the NBA. Guys basically couldn’t move teams if the team wanted to keep them. Somehow something we would never accept in our own lives or in society — whatever job you take right out of college, that company gets to keep you forever — is the ideal we expect of athletes.
Silver works at the pleasure of and speaks for the owners. And 28 of them (well, maybe 27, let’s not count Mark Cuban in that group) are not happy. Why are they not happy? Because they don’t have the superteam in their city. So suddenly it’s not fair. And a bunch of guys who praise the free market and want fewer restrictions on them in their other businesses will call for measures seen in socialism to “balance the power.”
Good on Redick for calling it what it is.