The NBA has seen its entire landscape change thanks to superstar small forward Kevin Durant and his choice to sign with the Golden State Warriors over his former team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, or a team like the Boston Celtics. This has created cries of hatred and disdain for KD’s decision and Durant himself. However, we can say that it’s changed the NBA, but how come no one has actually gone into detail about HOW it has changed the NBA? Well, regardless of the answer, I’m going to go into detail about how the NBA has changed and why this two year deal will impact the league for a lot longer than many may expect.
First off, let me do what everyone else seems to be doing and compare this to what LeBron James did in 2010. LeBron left the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat to form a Big Three that consisted of himself, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. Kevin Durant is leaving the Thunder to form a Big Four in Golden State with reigning two time MVP Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. What’s the difference? Well, actually, there are a few differences and contrary to popular belief, there are also a few similarities as well.
As much as everyone likes to write this off as “non-comparable” to the LeBron situation, it is very comparable. What were LeBron’s intentions in 2010? Were they to enjoy the Miami Palm Springs or to win an NBA Championship? What are Durant’s intentions now? Do you think he wants to enjoy the warm temperatures in California or does he want win himself a ring?
This whole “oh KD needs a super team to win a ring” argument is probably the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard. Not in the sense that it’s not true, but in the sense that EVERY LEGEND has had to employ the use of a super team. Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and even LeBron himself. There’s not one player in NBA history that has single handedly won a ring. You can almost make a case that any team that has ever won a ring was a “super team” because they were superior to everyone else.
Speaking of super team, let me get to my point about how this decision has changed the NBA. These “super teams” will start to take the league by storm. With the salary cap rising and everyone ring chasing, which should be the goal of any NBA player who has ever dreamed to be an NBA star. Star players that are not currently on the Warriors or Cavaliers, will now want to form a super team that can give both teams a serious run for their money. With the star players who are set to become free agents next offseason could certainly look to form their own super team. Even trades could indirectly help form these super teams. Teams are lining up to help these super teams become a reality and they don’t even realize it.
Even super teams that aren’t as big as what Golden State and Cleveland have pulled off. Teams like the Chicago Bulls (Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade), Boston Celtics (Al Horford), and New York Knicks (Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee, Joakim Noah) got considerably better through free agency and trade. The San Antonio Spurs also added another piece in Pau Gasol to go with guys like Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan (pending retirement), and Kawhi Leonard.
So what does any of this have to do with my poing about how teams have lined up to make super teams possible? Here it is: the Bulls signing D Wade to go with Rondo and Jimmy Butler doesn’t happen if they don’t unload contracts to the Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers. The Golden State super team doesn’t happen if the Dallas Mavericks don’t agree to acquire Andrew Bogut. If Dallas didn’t show interest in Harrison Barnes, it’s quite possible that the Warriors don’t let him go and the super team, again, doesn’t happen.
My next point is about one of the things I love about basketball: parity. We can just throw that out the window now. The NBA no longer has parity. Sure, it’s going to be nice to see up and coming teams like the Detroit Pistons and Utah Jazz compete for a playoff spot. However, that’s all they’re competing for. There’s no way in hell that these two teams or any other team (with the exception of the Cavs) topples the Golden State Warriors. For at least the next two years, the NBA will be ran by the Golden State Warriors.
The rising popularity of basketball and its fixture in mainstream media has indirectly lead to the spike in the salary cap. This is due to the amount of money made from merchandise sales and the amount made from TV deals. The league failed to realize how much of an effect this would have and now we’re in the situation we are today. So, the NBA can really blame themselves for this problem. Now, they have to find a way to fix it before it gets even more out or hand.
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Beck Diefenbach