The resurging prospect of NBA superteams is not new and makes the league enjoyable to watch
On July 8, 2010, the entire basketball world was watching ESPN, where superstar free agent forward LeBron James was about to announce where he would spend the next chapter of his career. Instead of returning to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers, James famously declared he would be taking his talents to South Beach, joining forces with guard Dwyane Wade and forward Chris Bosh in the hopes of bringing a title to the Miami Heat. James and Bosh each could have been paid more to play elsewhere, but they sacrificed some money in order to win a ring. This was the creation of the first modern superteam and it took the National Basketball Association by storm. Many argue that this new fad of creating superteams in order to win championships has “ruined” basketball. But how new is this phenomenon in reality?
Legendary forward Wilt Chamberlain was already established as one of the great players in the league when he demanded a trade from the Philadelphia 76ers following his 1967 championship season. The Sixers sent him to Los Angeles where he joined a Los Angeles Lakers team that already featured Hall of Famers guard Jerry West and forward Elgin Baylor. After losing to forward Bill Russell’s Boston Celtics in 1968 and the New York Knicks in 1969, the team reacquired a fourth hall of famer, guard Gail Goodrich, and finally won in 1972.
Since then, there have been other superteams. Forward Charles Barkley spent time playing with guard Clyde Drexler and forward Hakeem Olajuwon later in his career. Guard Kobe Bryant spent time playing with forward Karl Malone and guard Gary Payton as Bryant was in his prime. But the teams were noticeably fewer and farther between.
After four years with Miami and a 2-2 record in the finals, James decided to return home with the sole purpose of bringing the city of Cleveland a championship — something they had not had in 52 years. Meanwhile, in Oakland, the Golden State Warriors were starting to put the pieces together on the most potent offense in recent memory. After defeating the Cavs in 2015, they posted a 72-9 record, just beating out the 1996 Bulls for the best record in league history.
After nine years and no NBA titles, Kevin Durant wanted out of Oklahoma City. Rather than go to a middle-of-the-road team and try to make them a contender, Durant signed with the Warriors, adding to an already stellar team. Durant wanted a ring to legitimize him as one of the great players in the league and the Warriors had the ability to make that happen. To few people’s surprise, the Warriors cruised through the regular season and absolutely dominated the playoffs before beating the Cavs again in five games.
With the 2018 season approaching, NBA owners needed a way to make their teams competitive with the Warriors, so more superteams were created. The Cavs, who had already made three straight finals, made a splash in the trade market, dealing star guard Kyrie Irving to the Celtics for guard Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, forward Ante Zizic and a first and second round draft pick. The Houston Rockets added guard Chris Paul to create a powerhouse backcourt with guard James Harden. The Oklahoma City Thunder, with a void left by Durant, added forwards Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, who were both top-10 players in their primes. The superteams of today are all competing against each other and it’s a blast to watch. This fad won’t last forever, but for now, it is a fun time to be a basketball fan.