Thursday, February 24, 2011

Superteams Only?

So with the Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams trades to the New York teams, there's much hullabaloo in NBA scold circles that the developments are bringing the league to a new era of top-heavy teams.

And, well, I understand the prejudice against major market clubs that seem to be taking advantage of superstars that are gaming the system... but, um, what?

The Association is the most top-heavy championship situation in major American sports. The number of teams that have won a championship in the past 25 years is trivial compared to the NFL and MLB... and well, even if free agents are coagulating and conspiring, why is that any worse then the awful trades that have helped the Celtics and Lakers?

There's no reason to think that the Heat are going to be the prohibitive favorites to win a championship this year, especially now that Boston has made the Kendrick Perkins for Jeff Green trade. (I love the trade for the Thunder and much less so for the Celtics, but from the standpoint of Beating The Heat, it works for Boston. Just not Orlando, the Lakers or the Thunder. Moving on.) The Knicks have become Nuggets East -- an entertaining but defense-free fraud, and while everyone seems to think that they are going to get a Chris Paul or Deron Williams level point guard as soon as either man becomes available, that's not really a given. There isn't any other "superteam" that's really on the radar, and if a new CBA and/or hard cap kicks in, there might not be another one of these, anyway.

And even if the stars all align... well, so what? When has ungainly collections of mature talent ever worked out perfectly, without any ego or injury or unforeseen developments ever cropping up?

As I write this, Miami is playing Chicago, and the third wheel of the Superteam, Chris Bosh, is 1 for 18. That's one of the worst shooting performances in the history of the Association, and it's more or less a pattern for Bosh in big games this year, which is why the Heat's record in tight games against good opponents is not good at all. The Heat also have two points from their bench. In other words, they are a bad elbow to LeBron, or a revisit from Dwyane Wade's prior injury history, away from being a fraud contender. Hell, for all we know, they are already a fraud contender, given Bosh's softness, and the fact that the Heat do things like leave wide-open corner threes in crunch time. (Ye gads, that was awful. But I digress.)

So what's driving the hand-wringing, beyond the usual dislike for sportswriters for when well-paid labor gets to choose where they work? Well, it's a couple of things. First off is that the biggest media guys are from teams that have won it before; there isn't really a Heat or Nets writer that's getting major publicity. Secondly, many NBA fans are older and in cities that aren't ever going to be a magnet for NBA stars; the next superstar that's genuinely excited about living in Salt Lake City won't be the first, but it's not exactly common. So there's a certain level of defensiveness and insecurity that's just palpable.

And finally, there's the need to show off your massive brain and your curmudgeonly ways. The world is going to hell in a handbasket, and you do know not just who's going to win it all in June, but for the next five to ten years. The chance that a completely left-field team could break through and change everything, despite the fact that the Association brings in incredible new talent from all over the world every year... well, no. Because we know these guys, and everything. Or something.

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