HOW THE WEST WAS WON: Los Angeles is the new team to beat after acquiring star big man Dwight Howard. Photo courtesy Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The NBA is engaged in class warfare, and it’s all happening with a salary cap in place. Superstars are flocking to big-market poles like iron filings to a magnet. Really, it’s almost to a point where we need a Division 1-A and 1-AA, like in NCAA football.

Take the Dwight Howard deal, for example. The intentions behind the move were simple for Los Angeles: they wanted to out-Miami the Heat. They traded a great big man because they could get a superstar big man. They saw the Big Three, and they raised them a Big Four with a mentally unstable fifth as a kicker.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame the Lakers for making the move. They simply saw that that is what the league is coming to in this day and age. There’s no longer any room to grow and develop a franchise. You amass as many big names as you possibly can and you make a title run.

The proof is in the pudding, and the pudding is in Miami. In the two seasons since ‘The Decision’ when Cleveland and Toronto became doormats and Miami became a powerhouse, the Heat have made it to the Finals both times and won the title once. In today’s world of pro sports, that’s realistically a best-case scenario played out.

Los Angeles, the Heat before the Heat, saw this. But, more importantly, they saw this from home, because they didn’t make it to the NBA Finals, and their elimination to a team that drafted and developed and waited patiently was the exception to this rule.

That’s where the biggest injustice in all this is. Some people, like Oklahoma City, were actually en route to building a year-in-and-year-out contender the right way. Now each coastline features a juggernaut and the promising ball clubs in the middle like OKC and Chicago are sorely outgunned.

It’s an arms race, is what it is. One team acquires an embarrassment of riches, and then another one-ups them. The only problem is, there isn’t an endless supply of elite talent, so the byproduct of that is Charlotte and New Orleans.

That’s where the headline of this title comes in: fear and loathing. Every contender now knows they are great, but fears that they aren’t GREAT ENOUGH. Every contender sees how good they are, but also sees how much better other teams are. It’s a high school society placed in the context of a professional sports organization. Los Angeles was the pretty girl with low self-esteem, and Dwight Howard was that expensive pair of jeans they didn’t really need.

So if you’re a fan of Charlotte or Toronto or New Orleans or Washington, and you’re listening to the team execs talking about rebuilding an organization and drafting and developing young talent, kindly track them down and smack them in the face. That is no longer how titles are won in the NBA, though it is definitely a good way they are lost.

The new key to success is this: find as many premium free agents as you can and make yourself a Dream Team sans the Olympics. If it was good enough for a gold medal, it’s good enough for the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

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When Bryan isn’t writing, he is on Twitter! Make sure you give him a follow @bclienesch for NBA updates and other shenanigans.