The Slippery Slope of NBA Superteams
When the only thing that matters is a championship, players will inevitably team up. And the only course of action to beat them is for others to team up, too.
OAKLAND — LeBron James has just suffered his fifth Finals lost and is taking questions at the podium. When asked about the concept of superteams and whether or not they are good for the league, he said:
“I don’t believe I’ve played for a superteam.” — LeBron James
It was a questionable statement at the time, but it sparked a conversation about the whole superteam concept that has taken over the NBA. This was in response to the current Golden State Warriors, who stretched the superteam concept further by gathering not three, but four stars, widening the gap between them and the league’s other teams to near-insurmountable distances.
Here’s the thing: that won’t be the case for very long.
There are only so many ways to beat a superteam. You either join them (as Kevin Durant did last summer) or form your own, as teams like the Celtics are trying to do and Rockets are doing by acquiring Chris Paul.
Organizations can opt to delay their timelines to avoid wasting resources to fight a losing battle against an established juggernaut, but players are competitive. They want to win, and they have the control required to put themselves in positions to do that.
The Celtics acquire Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to play alongside Paul Pierce. They take the NBA crown. LeBron wants to win, knows he has to go through Boston, so he joins forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. He topples the Celtics.
His superteam loses, so he builds a new one in Cleveland with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. They lose to the Curry-Thompson-Green Warriors, but beat them the following season. The Warriors can’t accept that. They bring in Kevin Durant. They topple Cleveland.
Now, Golden State is the team others want to topple. Houston has narrowed the gap. They could get closer if they acquire Paul George. He’s also linked, along with Gordon Hayward, to the Celtics. If one of those two teams get their guys, the Warriors’ may be toppled quicker than we think.
If a Harden-CP3-PG13 trio or a PG13-Hayward-Isaiah trio isn’t enough, there’s one thing we can be certain of: they will try to find a fourth star. And if their four can’t beat Golden State’s four, they, or other teams that emerge, will try to put together five.
And nobody should be surprised. This happens everywhere. Apple is venturing into Television. Amazon is about to take over groceries. When all that matters is the bottom line, to maximize profit, to win a championship, entities have to continue acquiring more and more, and to beat them, others will have to acquire more, and more, and then some.