Super Teams and the NBA

The Business of Sports

By: Joseph James Francis

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

With the NFL season in the rear-view mirror mine and much of the sporting worlds attention turns to basketball. We are right in the thick of conference play in the NCAA regular season and the NBA has less than a third of its season left. Playoff positioning is heating up but so is offseason talk. Recently a trend has developed of the offseason being just as interesting as the regular season. Back in the day, free agency was left for the summer time. Not anymore as players have taken control of their own destiny’s. While I am all for player’s being able to choose where they want to go and get paid what they deserve to get paid, I am not for the formation of Super Teams. To me, the definition of a Super team is where 3 or more of the leagues best players join forces in one period of time. This can be illustrated frequently in the past decade but not much before that. Today I am going to discuss past and present “Super Teams” and debunk the fact that this has been going on for decades. I will use the acquisition of these players, their hall of fame/all-star status and amount of success as a measuring stick.


The 1980’s Los Angeles Lakers

Key Players:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Trade)

Magic Johnson (Drafted)

James Worthy (Drafted)

Michael Cooper (Drafted)

Byron Scott (Trade)

Hall of Famers: Jabbar, Johnson, Worthy, Coach Pat Riley


The “Showtime” Lakers of the 1980’s represented the West in the NBA finals 9 times in 12 years starting in 1980. During that period, they won 5 championships and changed the style of the NBA forever. Led by the extremely talented Magic Johnson, they dominated basketball for a decade. Their key players were mostly acquired through the draft, but they did add some pieces around the stars. 4 players from that era have since gone to the Hall of Fame, with Jabbar having much success even before joining the Lakers.

Super Team? No


1990’s Chicago Bulls

Key Players:

Michael Jordan (Drafted)

Scottie Pippen (Acquired on Draft Day via Trade)

Dennis Rodman (Trade)

Steve Kerr (FA Signing)

Toni Kukoc (Drafted)

Hall of Famers: Jordan, Pippen, Rodman


The Chicago Bulls of the 1990’s was in my opinion, the best team in the history of the NBA. Led by the best player to ever play the game, Michael Jordan, they went to 6 of 8 NBA Finals representing the East and won all six. In the 6 finals’, Jordan was named finals MVP each time. While many have claimed this team had a more stacked lineup than some of today’s current Super Teams, let me remind you that the starting center for these Bull’s teams was Luc Longley. Outcasts like Bill Wennington, Will Purdue, Horace Grant, John Paxson and B.J. Armstrong helped Jordan dismantle the NBA.

Super Team: No


The Mid 2000’s Boston Celtics

Key Players:

Paul Pierce (Draft)

Kevin Garnett (Trade)

Ray Allen (Trade)

Rajon Rondo (Acquired on Draft Day via Trade)

NBA All-Stars 2008: Allen, Garnett, Pierce


This Celtics team was seen by some as the formation of the first NBA Super Team. With the acquisition of Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett in 2007, the Celtics went to 2 of 3 NBA finals representing the East, winning one of them in 2008. The Big 3 of Pierce, Garnett, and Allen dominated the Eastern Conference for several years but eventually was overtaken as the team to beat in 2011. My argument for them not being a super team is that it is arguable that all 3 of the Boston Big 3 were not in their prime when they joined forces. Garnett had his best years in Minnesota and Allen was more effective with the Sonics and Bucks then with Boston. Pierce was the only player of those 3 that was at the height of his powers during their 2008 Championship run. Pierce, Garnett, and Allen are no-doubt Hall of Famers.

Super Team: No


2011-2014 Miami Heat

Key Players:

Lebron James (Trade)

Dwayne Wade (Drafted)

Chris Bosh (Trade)

Ray Allen (FA Signing)

NBA All-Stars 2011: James, Wade, Bosh


This Miami team dominated the Eastern conference for the 4 years Lebron James and crew were together. They went to 4 straight finals representing the East and won 2 of them. During the 2010 NBA offseason, James and Bosh left their teams in Cleveland and Toronto and joined forces with Wade to form the East’s new Big 3. James claims this formation was to rival the Big 3 of the Celtics (Allen, Garnett, and Peirce). By that time, Boston’s Big 3 had already started to decline and Ray Allen joined the rival Heat in 2013. Catapulted by the drama of “The Decision,” the Miami Heat were the focus of the NBA for 4 seasons until James left in 2015 to rejoin the Cleveland Cavaliers. All 4 of Wade, James, Bosh, and Allen are sure bet Hall of Famers. This, in my opinion, was the first NBA Super Team.

Super Team: Yes

 

2015-Present Golden State Warriors

Key Players:

Steph Curry (Drafted)

Klay Thompson (Drafted)

Draymond Green (Drafted)

Kevin Durant (FA Signing)

NBA All-Stars 2017: Curry, Green, Durant, Thompson


The Warriors have become the class of the NBA since 2015. Having gone to 3 straight NBA finals and winning 2 of them, they are in a zone all of their own. They have finished 1st in the Western Conference each of the last 3 seasons and broke the 1996 Chicago Bulls record of 72 wins in 2016. The addition of free-agent Kevin Durant to an already stacked line-up made it clear who the best team in the NBA was. They cakewalked through the playoffs last year losing only one game on route to an NBA championship. Despite the addition of Durant, the key players for the Warriors were all drafted by the team. Having won the championship in 2015 and having the most wins even in 2016, they were already a complete team poised for dynasty territory. The addition of Durant just made it silly and complete. I would have to put this team into the area of Pseudo-Super Team as they built their team from the ground up, only adding one of the best in the league, Durant, once they were already established. Curry and Durant are both no-doubt Hall of Famers.

Super Team: Yes and No

This new phenomenon of creating Super Teams is coming into question as this year’s offseason will prove to be an interesting one. With Lebron James set to become a Free Agent, he will be able to dictate where he wishes to play next year. Rumors are abounding as teams like the Lakers, Knicks, Rockets and even Warriors have been mentioned as landing spots. If Lebron were to join forces with the Warriors or Rockets it might be disastrous for the NBA as a glut of power would be completely centered with just a couple teams. For the time being it appears the Super teams are here to stay which may suit the league fine, with ratings being at an all-time high.

 

 

Joseph James Francis is a Financial Advisor, Money Coach, and Blogger. He can be reached at:

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