By: Nick Austin
NBA fans and analysts have long debated the question of whether Super Teams are harming or benefiting the NBA. Before we answer this question we must first define what a Super Team is. According to Fox Sports a Super Team consists of multiple potential future Hall of Famers coming together on one team, with at least one player joining that team via free agency or trade. The newly dubbed Super Team having already had a deep playoff run or won a championship the year prior and the team is now seen as a threat to the balance of the NBA.
With the definition of a Super Team now clarified, we can look back at previous teams that fit this description. Of course there is the 2016-2018 Golden State Warriors,who acquired Kevin Durant in the summer of 2016 via free agency and won back to back championships in the following years. Although the Warriors did win a championship in 2015, they were not technically classified as a Super Team as they had not acquired a superstar through free agency or trade.
Then there is the 2010-2014 Miami Heat, who won 2 rings in four seasons with Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Ray Allen and Chris Bosh leading the way.
In the 2007-2008 season, the Boston Celtics came to power and won a ring after acquiring Kevin Garnett via trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves. This star-studded group, that also included Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, made it to the Eastern Conference finals and NBA finals in the following years but did not win another ring together.
The 1982-83 76ers, which included Moses Malone, Julius Erving and Maurice Cheeks, won 1 ring together after Malone signed with the 76ers. This group made deep playoff runs after their championship run but never won another ring together.
The 1971-1974 New York Knicks won 1 ring in 1973 after acquiring Earl Monroe from Baltimore in exchange for role players and cash. The Knicks already had Walt Frazier, Willis Reed, Jerry Lucas and Bill Bradley. The addition of a scorer like Monroe is what pushed the Knicks to Super Team status.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 1971 Bucks won a championship after a trade that sent Charlie Paulk and Flynn Robinson to the Baltimore Bullets in exchange for Oscar Robertson. This duo of Kareem and Oscar made deep playoff runs in 1972-1973 and also made it to the finals in 1974, but never won another championship together.
Notable Super Teams that never won a ring together:
1) The 1968-1969 Los Angeles Lakers which had Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor and Jerry West. This team made it to the finals in 1969 and 1970 but lost both times, once to the celtics in 1968-1969 season and then the knicks in the 1969-1970 season.
2) The 1996-1997 Houston Rockets, who had Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley, Clyde Drexler and Scottie Pippen. This team formed after the Bulls breakup and hoped to repeat their 1994 and 1995 seasons in which they won back to back titles. Sadly that never happened as Houston’s star players got hurt and were passed by the on the rise Los Angeles Lakers and their killer duo of Kobe and Shaq.
There are Super Teams that form at least once a decade in the NBA. These Super Teams attract new fans and bring in more money to the NBA than your average playoff team. Why? Because they’re interesting and exciting to watch. The more points you score and the more highlight reels your team makes the better. The more your team wins whether it be regular season games, playoff games or championships. The more that people will want to see you lose. More people are likely to tune in to the team that’s won 63 games than the team that’s won 34 games. These super teams are not only bringing in more revenue for the NBA itself but their specific teams as well. Whether it be the logo of the company on the players jerseys, or the company that the stadium is named after. The better the team, the more money and viewership that is earned.
The downside to this concept though, is that after one team is constantly winning championships or always knocking teams out of the playoffs people become bored after a certain amount of time. Viewership could actually go down the more you win. For example, in the 2015-2016 NBA finals viewership was at 7.61 million across four network stations. In the 2016-2017 finals viewership was at 6.69 million across the same four network stations. Viewership more than likely dropped because the Warriors and the Cavaliers were both in those finals and people got bored of watching the same two teams battle it out for the championship.
Something that has become popular recently with super teams is players joining these Super Teams for a “free ring”. What this means is that NBA players either good or bad are signing with these stacked teams to get an easy road to a championship ring as a way to further their personal goals. This mindset is not good for the NBA, And it will spread across the league like wildfire if not controlled.
Every Super Team has dealt with hate from the media or fans because of how good they are and how they are upsetting the balance of the NBA. Super Teams are an important part of the NBA though. They force other teams to step up their game to take down said Super Team. The NBA makes it’s biggest leaps in terms of playing ability when a Super Team is in control of the NBA.
Super Teams are a constant in the NBA. The benefits of a Super Team in control of the NBA outweigh the possible drawbacks of having one, they will continue to occur whether we as fans accept it or not.