July 20, 2010

Sterns' Three Kings

It kills me to say this but maybe Team Stern is a good thing for the NBA. I know, I know, I’ve hated everything that’s happened surrounding the Bullshit Show that went on in Miami a couple weeks back. I hate that Stern let a team take full advantage – borderline abuse – of the salary cap rules like the Heat did. It’s stupid and wrong, but it might be exactly what the NBA needs right now.

Before The Circus, there were 4 teams in the NBA that legitimately had a shot to win the title: Boston, Cleveland, Orlando, and Los Angeles. I don’t remember what the odds were during the season, but I bet they weren’t too different at varying times throughout the year. Cleveland had the best record, L.A. the best player, Boston the best trio, and Orlando the best big man. Each team had something to lay their championship hopes on. Of course, as is the case most of the time, the team with the best player won the title. (Congrats to the Lakers, by the way.)

Of the three teams that didn’t win a ring, which one do you think would really give the Lakers a challenge in the next, say five years? I say none. Boston is old and has one, maybe 2 seasons left as contenders. Orlando won’t sniff the finals again, at least not until they can spend Vince Carter’s money on a winner, and LeBron didn’t seem to be able to will his team to the title like a certain other 23.

Which brings me to my point: I actually think LeBron going to Miami with Bosh and Wade is a good thing for the NBA. Remember the Bulls? No, not the scrappy kids we’ve seen do their playoff-thing the past five years. MJ’s Bulls. The Six rings-in-eight-years Bulls. For Chicago and Jordan fans, those were the golden days. The Bulls were the NBA. Yeah Houston nabbed a couple rings when Michael decided he was a baseball player, but the league
was theirs – well Jordan’s anyways. They were a dynasty, like the Lakers and the Celtics before them.

With that kind of success comes adoration and hatred, and nothing in between. Back in 1994 you either loved the Bulls or you hated them, except for Knicks fans, then it’s all hatred, all the time. The NBA was great back then because it was everyone against the Bulls. Everyone. The Jazz, Cleveland, New York … EV-ER-Y-BOD-Y. Who, that wasn’t a Bulls fan, didn’t cheer for KJ’s layup to go in over Horace Grant? Or hope Charles Oakley finally hurt Jordan? Or for Craig Ehlo to actually be able to play defense? Okay, no one outside of Cleveland cheered for Ehlo, but you get my point. Having a nemesis, someone to hate, made the games mean so much more to the hardcore fans.

That’s what Team Stern has provided for the today’s NBA. The Celtics, with their KG-centered Big Three were only mildly dislikeable, but the Heat are downright putrid. Assuming of course you’re not living in Miami-Wade County of course. I hated the Bulls until they were done winning, and only appreciated their excellence after I had some time to get over my hatred – they were top-five team(s) of all-time. The only thing that’s missing to make Team Stern complete is an arch rival. Hush Lakers fans, you’re not their arch enemy. Yet. The current version of the Celtics need to go away, then you’ll have another team to hate with all your star-studded might.

So, even though it seems unfair and an exercise in rule-bending, don’t be too quick to pass off The David Stern Variety Hour as all bad. Sure, Cleveland gets screwed, as does the rest of the Southeastern Division. And sure, Miami fans get a team that they probably don’t deserve, but the rest of us get something too. The NBA gets a team to hate. And frankly, nothing fuels competition like hatred, and maybe that’s exactly what the NBA needs right now: some fierce competition.


Dickfer said...

Just grabbing that leg.

Drew Boatman said...

Good point. I hadn't thought of it that way. I look forward to that full-on hatred, last seen directed towards Shaq and the Lakers in 2003.