There’s something to be said for when an NBA franchise is willing to move on from the possibility of acquiring a superstar, let alone a team that finished 22-44 last season. What is it exactly that is to be said? That’s simple: enough already.
We go through this same song and dance every offseason. It happened with LeBron James, Chris Paul and countless others. A superstar essentially holds the entire NBA hostage. One player moving between teams has the potential to completely reshape the landscape of an entire professional sports organization, and said player exploits that fact to the fullest.
You see, as fans you’re led to believe every team has a fair shot at turning into a powerhouse organization. That just isn’t true. A select few hold the power and, if things continue, they always will. Because the age of the NBA superstar combined with the modern day nature of free agency ALLOWS individual athletes to determine the fates of entire franchises.
Think of it like the United Nations. Sure, every team is a member of the same organization, but not all members are created equal. The Lakers and Heat are the U.S. and China. Charlotte and Washington, on the other hand, are more like Switzerland and Ghana. Members? Absolutely. Influential? No way.
But where this U.N. analogy falls short is just HOW these teams come to power. For example, team owners should probably be the equivalent to heads of state. But in the NBA, this is not true. Whoever are the highest paid players on a roster really make the team decisions. Just ask Stan Van Gundy.
This wouldn’t be so bad if these players were standing pat, but they aren’t. Rather than display even the slightest shred of loyalty, these superstars congregate like the cool kids on the Junior High jungle gym. If you are lucky enough to be living in an area these kids choose to occupy, you wake up an overnight title contender.
It’s textbook cronyism and Dwight Howard’s recent saga is nothing more than the flavor of the week. It’s no one’s fault in particular, though. Part of the blame rests in the game. When you start only five players at a time and a single player makes up at least 20% of your team’s effort at any given time, the balance of power naturally shifts. But part of the blame also rests with the NBA. The league doesn’t just allow these guys to run rampant, they LIVE off of it. What sells more headlines, one superstar or three?
The problem is there isn’t enough premium talent to go around. There are only so many Kobe Bryant’s and Kevin Garnett’s. As we’re learning right now, there are also only so many Dwight Howard’s. So, as the game’s best forge alliances by signing with the same team, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. And, while there is no such thing as too much wealth (ahem, Miami), there is such a thing as rock bottom. If you were a Supersonics fan, you know this fact all too well.
So is Dwight Howard’s inevitable departure from Orlando going to ruin another NBA franchise? Maybe not, but it’s certainly going to continue a trend that has alienated countless fans. The amassing of the game’s most superb talent in select markets has almost created subdivisions within professional basketball. A division 1-A and 1-AA, if you will. If the team you root for boasts a “big three”, you may not think this is all that bad. But if they don’t, you may soon come to terms with the fact that you are rooting for the professional version of Kennesaw State.
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When Bryan isn’t writing, he is on Twitter! Follow him @bclienesch!