During the 2017 NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors showcased a gentleman sweep against the Cleveland Cavaliers. It’s no coincidence that this happened looking back now when comparing the two teams, but the anticipation to that inevitable Finals match-up signaled a trend that we are still witnessing today. In all honesty, a good head-to-head series with elite superstars on the floor together quenches people’s thirsts for another classic to witness and remember. The problem however, lies in its prevalent nature to stay relevant in today’s NBA. One could wonder if the recent teams that won the chip, the Milwaukee Bucks and Golden State Warriors, who are both led by one superstar and surrounded by a quality roster, should cause a shift in the dynamics of the league itself.
Dating back to the decline in ratings during the bubble, the NBA has somewhat turned it around and found a resurgence in viewers due to the quality of the competitions. An example, according to Glasspiegel (2022), would be the first game of the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets series, bringing in 6.9 million viewers on ABC. Obviously, a Boston Celtics team with Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and being accompanied with a stifling defense led by Marcus Smart, while facing off against Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant will bring lots of uproar from viewers with the quality of competition available. However, one can argue that the presence of promising stars in Tatum, Doncic, Young, Morant, etc., have helped the league in reclaiming viewers that have lost interest in the league. So now, why is the idea of a super team still prevalent in today’s league?
People can debate endlessly who started the whole super-team concept or process, but fact of the matter is, media outlets and online media will always propose or pitch super-team possibilities in the league. The most recent news is the possibility of Kevin Durant joining the Philadelphia 76ers with James Harden and Joel Embiid, and Kyrie Irving joining the Los Angeles Lakers with Lebron James and Anthony Davis. Bear in mind, this is a league fresh of a Finals series wherein both teams are evenly matched that faced fierce competitions in their journey towards the Finals. Teams’ market value will always be important to the league, and it all depends if your team has the capability to provide box-office numbers whether through the location of the team such as Los Angeles or New York, or through a team’s prized super-star or all-star. Another important asset of the league is the presence of its super stars of the 2010’s era, but are now experiencing the inevitability of father time and the arrival of the league’s next generation of stars. For the league, a much needed change in the dynamics of the league should be considered moving forward. This is for the reason that the team needs to figure out a way to not solely rely on their established stars since they won’t be around the league for long. At the same time, one can argue that media outlets and online media add to the chatter and relevancy of super-teams in the league, due to it being a strong attention grabber for viewers and fans of the sport since a lot of fans want quality competition.
However, the problem lies yet again with an over abundance and reliance on super teams for basketball entertainment, while other teams' value diminishes on and off the court against higher market teams with super stars on their rosters. Due to this, a cultural shift could provide some much needed versatility in competition and not a chore of a routine to get to an inevitable super-team match-up in the playoffs. Through this, we might see even more classic match-ups that do not solely rely on the presence of superstars.