With Chris Paul being traded from the Clippers to the Rockets, it appears to look like the Rockets are doing their best to form their own super team. Before anyone comes at me with “the Rockets aren’t a super team yet” I want to let you know I do agree. Chris Paul teaming up with James Harden is a head scratcher because the two playing styles don’t necessarily mix, but it does make Houston an attractive destination to acquire players via trade or free agency.
Talking about whether the acquisition of Chris Paul makes the Rockets a threat to the Warriors is not what I am going to talk about today.
Chris Paul this morning opted into his contract, making the Clippers trade him to the Rockets, as oppose to him opting out of his contract and signing a long-term deal with the Rockets.
This is important to note because he along with Lebron James and Dwayne Wade are also Free-Agents at the end of next season. Meanwhile Carmelo Anthony is currently in Buyout talks with the Knicks.
This is also going on at the same time while Paul George is on the trading block. Many teams, most notably the Cavaliers as they try to retool their super team in hopes to defeat the Warriors. Now the Rockets have come into play for George and may even be in play if Anthony gets bought out.
Source on Rockets: “They think they are getting Carmelo or Paul George.”
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) June 28, 2017
Chris Paul teaming up with Harden, Cavs trying to improve their super team, George leaving Indiana, and the Lakers making a point to clear cap space for next is all response the Warriors assembling one of the greatest teams ever.
We all saw the Warriors without Kevin Durant and they won 73 games and we recently saw them with Kevin Durant as they looked damn near unstoppable all throughout the playoffs.
Everyone over the past year has destroyed Kevin Durant for leaving Oklahoma City to join the Warriors. Some people even went to the level of calling him a coward, because he gave up or didn’t do it on his own. Everyone destroyed Lebron, including me, for forming his super team down in Miami, because it’s not what us the fans call competitive.
Well today I am going to say it is time to stop hating super teams, its time to stop saying super teams have ruined the NBA. It is also time to stop talking about the “good ole days” of Bird and Magic.
Here are the reasons why
1. If you are going to blame any group of people for the “super team” era in the NBA blame the two groups that hate it the most. That is the media and the fans. Both parties talk about how a certain player “can’t get it done” in the Playoffs or doesn’t win enough regardless of his current playing situation. We remember guys for one bad game regardless of how good he played throughout his long career.
Be honest with yourself. If Kevin Durant stayed in Oklahoma City and never won a title, which was a real possibility, how would people talk about him? Would people talk about how he was so loyal to Oklahoma City and he is the definition of what athletes should be even though he didn’t win a ring? Sure, some people would and some people may respect him more. OR would people have talked about how he could never get it done in the Playoffs, and talk about all the games he didn’t get it done in crunch time as oppose to all the game he did? I am going to go with number two.
2. Take five seconds and put yourself in the athletes shoes. I am one to believe that we hold athletes to an unfairly higher standard than ourselves. The super team argument relates, because we only look how this benefits ourselves. We see Kevin Durant go to one team and we react based on how it affects our team and then lash out by saying the guy is trash or isn’t a “true competitor”. We fail to put ourselves in the athletes shoe because we fear being wrong. We fear knowing that us to would probably turn down playing for our favorite team and decide to go play somewhere else.
Lets takes Lebrons decision to leave Cleveland back in 2010. In Terry Plutos recent book “The Comeback” . He talks about the meetings Lebron had with the different teams that came and visited him.
If you forget, back in 2010 six teams were in the running for Lebron. All six teams made their way to Cleveland, Ohio and made what they believed was their best pitch. The six teams were the Los Angeles Clippers, Chicago Bulls, New Jersey (now Brooklyn) Nets, New York Knicks, Miami Heat, and the Cleveland Cavaliers. In the book he talks about how the Clippers put a pitch together talking about the LA lifestyle Lebron could have. The Clippers talked about the clubs, restaurants, and beaches Lebron could go to. The Bulls talked about the young core of Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah and possibly Dwayne Wade. The Nets bragged about all the money they had because at the time Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov owned the team and was willing to spend whatever he needed to win. Lebron also had a great relationship with Jay Z, who at the time was a minority owner of the team. The Knicks put together a presentation bragging about the $2 billion worth of possible endorsements he could get by playing in New York city for the Knicks.
Then came Miami. Miami had Pat Riley who won championships with the showtime Lakers, brought some of the best years of basketball New York Knicks fans have ever seen while their Head Coach. He even won a championship in Miami five years prior. Riley came into the meeting room and famously threw his seven championship rings on the table. Riley talked about what it meant to be a champion and how Lebron had everything it took to be a champion and how Riley was the guy to put him in the best situation to win one.
Meanwhile, Cleveland talked about the importance of staying home, and how they were people he could trust. The Cavs even went as far as putting together a fucking Family Guy cartoon with Lebron and his friends. So dumb, and it pisses me off to this day.
After all of that put yourself in Lebrons shoes. Lebron was 25, worth millions, was an MVP already, but struggled getting past teams that were just better than him. Those Cleveland teams with Lebron the first time around were terrible. Lebron single handily lead them to the playoffs year after year. Losing in the playoffs like the Cavs did had to drive Lebron nuts and he knew at that point in time the Cavs were not the ones to help him get a ring. The Cavs spent too much money on Larry Hughes, an out of prime Shaq, and traded for a useless Antawn Jamison. Lebron had money, he had all the glamour already. He didn’t need any more money in endorsements, he didn’t need a beach lifestyle, didn’t want to be part of something up and coming. He needed and wanted a ring and Miami was the best place for that. Wouldn’t you do the same? Wouldn’t you choose a school, or workplace that gives you the best chance to succeed? Hopefully the answer to most would be yes.
3. Talking about what teams pitched to Lebron in 2010 brings me to my third point. When I hear those stories about Owners coming to Lebron and pitching to Lebron about how the millionaire can make millions, and when I think about how the Cavs did so many dumb trades back then one word comes to mind. That word is incompetence.
For years players and fans have suffered from complete incompetence from their front office. Why is it wrong for a player to control their own destiny and career? Why does a player have to have someone else put a better team around him? Kevin Durant, and Lebron James took matters into their own hands to make sure they did win a championship. Maybe if instead of spending huge money on Larry Hughes, maybe the Cavs should have put the time and money into trying to acquire Jason Kidd who was one of the best players in the game at the time. Instead of bitching at Kevin Durant for leaving, why don’t people bitch at the Thunders front office for trading James Harden for practically nothing. People say players forming super teams is a very millennial move, because it is “taking the easy way out”. Well, isn’t a player waiting for someone else to improve his team more millennial than someone who is trying to take matters into his own hands and make a team better himself?
Which brings up another point. Why is it celebrated that Danny Ainge of the Celtics formed a super team by adding Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen? Why is it “business” when the Bulls trade Jimmy Butler costing him millions, because he is no longer eligible for the “super-max” he would have been eligible for in Chicago? Red Auerbach was able to acquire Bill Russell because he said he would fund some ice show for the Rochester Royals if they didn’t draft Russell. Russell then went to the St. Louis Hawks where Auerbach was easily able to trade for him because of the Jim Crow laws that were still present. It was that easy for Auerbach to get the centerpiece of one of sports greatest dynasties. The Showtime Lakers were able to draft James Worthy, because they traded Don Ford to the Cavs and in return got the number one pick to draft Worthy. For some reason we accept these incompetent moves by Owners and General Managers and fail to mention them in Basketball history, but we are quick to downplay rings won by Lebron and Durant because they took matters into their own hands.
4. Finally, super teams are good. Super teams force other teams to make decisions and act quickly. It puts pressure on coaches, players, and front offices to make uncomfortable and tough decisions. You have to think the Cavaliers don’t necessarily want to trade Kevin Love, but the Warriors have forced the Cavs to make tough decisions. Teams are currently scrambling to find ways to acquire Paul George in hopes they can compete for a championship. Players like Paul are forced to make tough career decisions to better their chances at winning a ring. Carmelo realizes he can’t wait for New York to rebuild, so his response is to negotiate a buy out. Carmelo will then be faced to decide where to play which may define his career. Then we have Lebron. Lebron after next summer will again be faced with the decision on where to play. Anytime you can get pressure on teams and players to make decisions it is considered a good thing. There is nothing worse than having a team that just sits on their hands and wait for something to happen.
To wrap all this up, its time to stop complaining about the super teams. Super teams are not ruining the NBA. Yes, we have had the same finals for the past three years, but were we complaining in the 80s when it was primarily Celtics and Lakers or in the 90s with the Bulls? The answer is no. Teams find ways to adjust, there is too much time and money invested for teams to just sit back and wait for the Warriors run to end. Teams and players will find a way to compete and when it does happen it will all be fun to watch.