Super Teams are Super Bad for NBA

Competitive balance. That might be a phrase NBA fans will want to keep in mind for the future.

The media, fans and probably even David Stern love the idea of more super teams. Big players in big markets on big teams means big ratings, right? I mean, how crazy would a Heat-Laker final be with Chris Paul and Dwight Howard playing for LA?

Miami, Boston, New York, Los Angeles. The latest, most likely false, rumours speculate a move of disgruntled stars Chris Paul and Dwight Howard suiting up alongside Kobe Bryant in the purple and gold. A dream team of the best center, best point guard and best(?) shooting guard in the league is more than a little intriguing for even the most casual of NBA fans.

The idea of another “dream” team is no doubt intriguing but it is quite possibly the worst thing that could happen for the NBA.

It’s one of those slippery slope situations. Boston started it all with their OG big 3 followed by LBJ’s chosen destination and New York’s almost predictable failure in their attempt to create a super team dynasty.

The problem is, where’s the talent for the rest of the league?

Top tier talent comes at a premium but when that talent is concentrated in a few very select cities the premium becomes the non-existent. There won’t be any players left for the 25 or 26 other teams if this kind of ridiculousness persists.

It may be as much fun for you to keep up with super teams as it is for your girlfriend to keep up with the Kardashians but the obvious reality of the matter is that there is no NBA without the smaller market franchises. Competitive balance is already an issue in the NBA, especially in the Eastern Conference where a below .500 record can earn teams a lot more than a participant ribbon. Imagine what it would be like with a few more celebrity filled teams.

Amidst all the excitement, no one seems to be worrying about how the possibility of more super teams could severely affect the majority of NBA franchises. The league can’t work with 5, 6 or 7 teams carrying 3 or, dare I say, 4 superstars. The NBA is moving towards a league where glory driven superstars’ only hope of competing will be to put their egos aside and form a star-studded force of their own. It will become a classic case of ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.’

Oh yeah, the NBA will also feature 24 teams playing 82 meaningless games. 80% of fan bases won’t have anything more to cheer for than ‘fast to last!’ Sure, you can have your odd struggling franchises here and there, but a league full of them isn’t going to fly.

Chris Paul and Dwight Howard probably won’t end up in LA when it is all said and done but you can bet your bottom dollar that they will be offering their services to a contending team with other stars. Creating a legacy of your own is quickly becoming as popular as pogs have been in the last decade.

Too many fan bases without a star player to root for is a scary thought. The draft won’t be enough to compensate 20 plus teams’ inability to contend for a title. Hope is the one consolation for struggling teams but if the NBA continues to steer in this direction there won’t be enough hope to go around.

The occupy protestors should get where I’m coming from. The NBA will be the professional sports’ model of class stratification. Those franchises left out of the NBA’s super team exclusive country club won’t know what hit them. Soon enough they will be sleeping in tents outside David Stern’s office protesting the NBA’s 1% elite.

The NFL thrives on competitive balance and a constant influx of new playoff teams from year-to-year. Granted, football is much a much more team oriented sport than basketball and if you don’t believe me then you might want to look at the Philadelphia Eagles. Nevertheless, competitive balance, more than anything, ensures unwavering interest from fan bases from teams 1 to 30. Competitive balance is a big part of what increases the NFL’s already massive pool of money seasons after season.

NBA fans should stop supporting the prospect of more star-studded teams because in the long run it might just be the thing that kills the sport. A league of super team normality won’t spark the same interest that the Miami Heat have and still are generating. Individually the smaller market teams don’t mean much to the league but as a collective unit they are everything.

Competitive balance?

I wouldn’t mind a little more of that in the coming years.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

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10 Responses to Super Teams are Super Bad for NBA

  1. Personally, I’d love to see more parity in the league. I do think “super teams” water down the rest of the league, but they are good for ratings. The NBA could solve this problem by contracting a few teams. Let’s face it, the Bobcats and Bucks aren’t exactly attracting all the fans. Less teams would mean more depth on each team.

  2. dylonserpa24 says:

    Being a person who wants the lakers to be an super team… I completely agree that the NBA needs that balance!

  3. jak218 says:

    I enjoyed this blog and you are right the NBA doesn’t have the old do it yourself teams like they did in the 90s. I personally loved the years when Jordan and Ewing led their teams and did not join forces to win a title, I’m not a fan of the Super Team philosophy as you can tell and I agree with the comments above that the NBA needs balance like the NFL and NHL.

  4. tophatal says:


    I think that the Heat realize that but GM Pat Riley after last year’s events was able to turn a profit for owner Micky Arison having lost in excess of $100 million over the previous five years before LeBron took his talents down to South Beach .

    I’m still waiting for LBJ to address that sound byte of his ” ………. not one , not two , not three but I believe we can win multiple championships ! Perhaps five or six . ” Still waiting .

    By any chance recall that Lakers’ team that had their ##s handed to them by the Pistons some years back ? Shaq , Kobe , The Glove aka Gary Payton and Karl Malone . They bitched , whined and finger pointed at each other in light of that embarrassing series’ loss . Not along after , things went downhill for the organization with Bryant’s mishap in Eagle , Colorado and then he and Shaq’s dust up . ‘nough said !

    tophatal ………

  5. robb rogers says:

    Great point!

    Profit-sharing, I believe, was one of the league owners’ concerns during the lockout.
    Until the league owners figure out a way to get to parity, big market teams dominating just because they have larger markets/incomes will be the rule.

    ‘Tough to let go of that if you’re Jerry Buss, etc. “…sure, I’ll forego dozens of millions of dollars of profit each year to help small market owners buy players who are now willing to take less pay just to play in LA.

  6. Teeblerone says:

    The NBA seems like they want a handful of Super-teams to steamroll lesser teams like the Harlem Globetrotters do to the Washington Generals and set up epic showdowns in the playoffs and Finals. The only problem: nobody wants to see the Washington Generals scrimmage the Washington Generals, which is what 80% of the season would boil down to.

  7. JW says:

    The concept of “parity” has one major flaw. It’s a lie. Revenue-sharing is an entirely different conversation; owners do need to understand they are franchises in the same business; therefore they have a vested interest in each other’s financial well-being. That’s the model which allows a city to have 100 McDonald’s franchises that all make money. The trick there is all about where they are and the market they serve.

    But this is about parity – the mistaken assumption that spreading out the talent as one would with money is beneficial. There’s so many ways to see the flaw in this thinking.

    First, there is the assumption that money=access to talent=winning. If that were true, then the NFL – a league which is a monument to parity – shouldn’t have the stark class division that it does. Realistically, the NFL is about 12 teams that matter and 18 that really don’t There’s a reason for that disparity. Regardless of the talent on the field, some teams will make money and some won’t, regardless of the performance on the field. This inextricably links revenue with “parity,”

    This is important because the NBA is really a model of what the NFL would look like if it weren’t swimming in money. The NBA is really a collection of a class of teams which are generating all the revenue and a dependent class which is crying about “competitive imbalance.” The dirty little secret is “competitive imbalance” is good for business.

    A sports league is about the value and marketability of it’s stars. The ugly reality nobody wants to admit is that LeBron James is worth more to the league as a whole in Miami than he is in Cleveland. After all, somebody has to make the money.

    Look at when the NBA was at the height of its popularity in the 1980’s. That league arguably consisted of two uber-teams, the “Showtime” Lakers and the Bird-McHale-Parrish Celtics. Any visitors to that dance needed to be as loaded as those two were, such as the Dr. J-Moses Malone 76ers and the Isiaih Thomas-Joe Dumars Pistons. That league saw a concentration of the talent into a few markets, and that era funded the expansion/Jordan era in which the NBA gave back every gain it had made by diluting its’ product.

    What it all comes down to is teams need star players, and leagues need star teams. People tune in to see the Yankees, the Packers, or the Lakers. They don’t tune in to watch the Royals. The only way the NBA has a shot to regain its popularity is to have a few teams with national appeal. Otherwise, it’s going to be the D-league in bigger arenas.

  8. Pingback: Alternative Solution for the NBA and Super Teams | Uncle Monkey's Blog

  9. ASpotOfRedInCubland says:

    A great post, and while I agree with many of your points, I tend to agree with the previous comment a bit more. I rooted so hard for Dallas to win last year’s finals you’d have thought that I lived and breathed Maverick basketball, when in reality, I’ve been a Celtics fan since the days of Bird/McHale/Parrish. So to me that is the interesting part about this topic….On the one hand, I hate the way LeBron ditched Cleveland and bolted for Miami, but at the same time, it gave me a big reason to watch the NBA Finals — I watched hoping to see the Heat lose. And that’s not a new pattern — in the 80’s, when the Celts weren’t in the finals, I was tuning in to see the Lakers lose…then tuned in hoping the Pistons would lose, then hoping the Bulls would lose (although I lost a lot of interest in the NBA in the post Jordan era — mainly because it was one of the worst eras in Celtics history). But sometimes having a team to root against is just as good for the league as anything.

    The big problem the NBA has is that they expanded beyond the level of talent that was out there. There are enough good players so that every city could have one or two stars, but there’s not enough to fill out the rosters to make the level of play interesting to watch.

  10. Contraction is definitely called for. Speaking of that, I’d love your take on my latest piece about the Paul veto.

    Now, I would agree with you that the NBA is most definitely top-heavy, however, at the beginning of last season, if you had given me Miami-LA-Boston or the field, I definitely would have opted for the former… and lost.

    That’s why the lockout was such a hit for the league. Unexpectedly, Dallas won it all and THAT was good for the NBA.

    Until, of course, they went and screwed it up.

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