In today’s hyper-charged NBA and NFL collective bargaining environment, each and every comment is examined through a microscopic lens. A few days ago Lebron James endorsed the idea of contracting NBA teams when he said “hopefully the league can figure out one way where it can go back to the '80s where you had three or four All-Stars, three or four superstars, three or four Hall of Famers on the same team,” James said. “The league was great. It wasn't as watered down as it is [now].” He went on to further speculate how Kevin Love and Devin Harris would look on other teams.
Everyone is jumping on Lebron James because contraction of NBA franchises means the loss of jobs and apparently gives ammunition to the owners during negotiations over the new collective bargaining agreement. His critics need to take a step back and look at what he was saying. He wasn’t saying reduce the number of overall jobs in the NBA. What he was saying was that competition in the 1980s was better when you had 22-24 teams than the 30 teams today.
Further, the NBA owners will not contract. Business in the NBA is not that bad especially when you have cities like Las Vegas and Seattle clamoring for NBA franchises. So for people to jump all over him without actually addressing the substance of his argument is the result of lingering resentment from his ill-fated “Decision.” Frankly, I don’t think he even cares anymore what anyone thinks.
Addressing the actual substance of his statements, I don’t blame Lebron for what he said. There is this romantic notion of how basketball in the 1980s with Bird and Magic was the golden era of basketball. During those days, on a consistent year to year basis, there were essentially 3-4 teams that could have won. Lebron’s mistaken in the sense that if you look today, today’s NBA is not much different than the 1980s NBA. Today, you have the Lakers out west; and Boston, Miami and Orlando in the east. That’s it. There are no other legitimate title contenders.
The 1980s in the NBA are back again. The difference is that everyone is misunderstanding today’s audience. I strongly believe that Americans prefer NFL style parity now rather than having a few mega powerful teams. Someone will argue that there are other teams that can be included in the top group such as Kevin Durant and the Thunder, the Spurs with Duncan, Manu and Parker and for those delusional Chicago Bulls fans with Derrick Rose, Boozer and Noah. But if you take an objective view, the casual fan can tune out the NBA until May and not miss a beat.
Give me more NFL style parity in the NBA. The best playoff series last year wasn’t Celtics-Lakers, it was the established Lakers versus the young, up and coming Thunder. A couple of years ago the best series in the playoffs was the Celtics-Bulls. Why was that series so interesting when neither of those teams made the finals? Because it was two teams that were evenly matched, playing highly entertaining games, that went down to the wire. It had nothing to do with the fact that it was Chicago versus Boston. Sorry Lebron, you were all of six years old when the 1980s ended and the Pistons won the last of their back-to-back championships. The NBA would be much better served in the long run by having NFL style parity than 1980s NBA style centers of power.
Abrar A. is a litigation and labor attorney from Chicago, Illinois. He hates the Cover-2 defense and is waiting for the day the Bears get a new coach. Abrar also has a man-crush on D.Wade that is only rivaled by Docksquad's own man-crush on DRose. Abrar A. will be freelancing for DSS.