Image courtesy of Sports Illustrated
When the Lakers acquired Steve Nash and Dwight Howard this offseason, NBA fans across the country, except those lucky few enjoying that SoCal sunshine, let out a collective groan. Add one more “super-team” to dominate the NBA landscape.
With the addition of arguably one of the top 3 point guards of all time and the most talented big man in the league today to a group that already consists of defensive specialist Metta World Peace, international star Pau Gasol, and Kobe Bryant and you seem to come out with yet another team that has amassed a collection of talent to rival several all-star teams.
The first of these super-teams in the modern era was the Boston Celtics. In the summer of 2007, through a series of complicated moves, the shamrocks acquired Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to accompany the ever-present Paul Pierce to form the “Boston Three Party” as a famous Sportscenter commercial put it. Then, three years later, in what was arguably the most prolific free agency class in the history of sports, the Miami Heat formed their own Big Three. The Heat won the rights to Chris Bosh and LeBron famously “took his talents to South Beach“ to join Dwayne Wade. Each of these teams won a championship within two years of coming together.
It’s also worth noting the Oklahoma City Thunder, a team slightly different from the previous two. They drafted the league’s best scoring threat in Kevin Durant, point guard Russell Westbrook, and James Harden in the first round of consecutive drafts from 2007-2009. These three players formed the core of the Thunder’s rise to relevancy in the Western Conference.
Getting back to the Lakers, people complain that we now have just another group that’s gathering talent without actually forming a team. However, I’ll argue any day that nothing has changed. Teams have always needed stars to win championships. The 2004 Detroit Pistons are the only team in the last 17 years to win it all without a true superstar and it’s a miracle that the Mavericks managed to win it with just Dirk Nowitzki and a bunch of past-their-prime players. You see, except for these recent outliers, championships follow the talent. As much as we all like to root for the true team that plays as one cohesive unit, the fact that these teams rarely win are what make them so special. Hickory High and TC Williams aren’t supposed to win state, but that’s why they make movies about them. In the grand scheme of things, the most talented team will win.
If anything, the Lakers’ recent acquisitions open up the Western Conference even more. Did anyone not expect the Thunder to waltz right into the NBA Finals next year? At least now America will get to see some competition in the west.
It’s been said in the past that it takes one superstar to make the playoffs, two to win the championship. This was true with Jordan and Pippen, Magic and Kareem, and Duncan and Robinson. However, it is a dynamic league. The talent pool is deeper, players are faster and stronger.
Is it possible that you now need three superstars on the team? Only time will tell.