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Ryan Craig

Bring on more NBA "superteams"

Posted February 28, 2011

LeBron’s famous summer speech about bringing his talents to South Beach invited a lot of hate.

People wondered how big of an ego one superstar could have and what the future of the NBA would look like if more All-Stars made behind-the-scenes agreements to join forces in the league’s biggest markets.

If Sunday night’s Heat vs. Knicks game in Miami was any indication, count me as someone that thinks the league will look just fine.

With the expansion of professional sports, be it basketball, baseball, hockey, etc…comes a dilution of talent. For the most part, there are only so many good players, so the more teams there are to share them, the more that elite talent will be spread apart.

In time, the on-court product suffers.

Not so if the best players are condensed into a few select areas.

Also, for the longest time, the NBA seemed a little more to me than disinterested players playing less defense than you’d see in a pregame layup line.

Too often it seemed this collection of millionaires would rather be anywhere else on the planet than playing in the second of back-to-back road games.

With the advent of the “superteam,” however, this has changed.

Sure, Lakers vs. Kings isn’t exactly inspirational viewing, but as more teams compile lineups that include three, or sometimes four, All-Stars, more of the season’s 82-game schedule consists of two of these teams going head to head on a given night.

Spurs vs. Lakers? Celtics vs. Heat? Knicks vs. Bulls? Yes, please.

Not only do you have teams with elite level talent matching wits, but you’re also privy to seeing one-on-one battles all over the court unlike many we’ve seen since Lakers vs. Celtics in the ‘80s.

Take Sunday night, for example.

On the final possession of the Knick’s win over the Heat you had Carmelo Anthony guarding LeBron James at the top of the key. When James found a crease to get by Anthony and to the rim, Amar’e Stoudemire was there to swat away the potential game-winning layup.

Talent vs. talent. Ego vs. ego.
The final quarter of Sunday night’s game in South Beach felt like a playoff game.

The Heat and Knicks will both easily qualify for the postseason, but the matchup felt like one played with so much on the line.

Bragging rights? Maybe.

But it was more about players trying to make a statement to each other and the audience that they are the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.

Great teams take games against other great teams seriously. They know that they could see each other again in the playoffs, or that early-season head-to-head matchups could ultimately determine playoff seeding months down the road.

Of course there are going to be teams, fans and markets that hate the notion of superstars aligning themselves to be in a position to spend their peak years playing together.

Small market clubs are likely going to suffer at the hands of basketball’s big boys more so than before and with less of a chance to hang on to their franchise player long enough to build a team around him.

But as a fan of sports in general, I say “who cares?”

Would you really trade 40-50 riveting games a year for several hundred that are mediocre at best?

The new-look Knicks may have won Sunday night against the Miami Heat’s hand-picked All-Star triumvirate, but as someone who only recently started watching the NBA again after a decade-long hiatus, I think it’s the league that will win in the end.
 

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