Is NBA Parity Dead?
The advent of the “Super-teams” in the 21st century really kicked off when the Boston Celtics were able to get both Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett in the 2007-08 season. The Celtics went on a magical run and won the title that same year. The Big Three of Garnett, Allen and Paul Pierce along with the enigmatic Rajon Rondo put together a great run at the top with one title in two trips to the finals and a few trips to the Eastern Conference finals as well.
That same year, the Los Angeles Lakers made a coup of their own when they traded for Pau Gasol. With the Lakers’ nucleus of Kobe Bryant, Gasol, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum, they were able to steam roll the next few years and had two more titles in three finals appearances.
With the top two examples above, other teams seem to have taken note and made huge splashes of their own, culminating in the controversial big three of Dwayne Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh in 2010. Superstars have seen the results of pairing up and had become weary of staying with their own squads if they don’t have superstar help of their own. We’ve since seen Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony with the New York Knicks, Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers and most recently, a reincarnated Laker squad of Kobe, Dwight Howard, Gasol and Steve Nash. We have also seen the Brooklyn Nets follow this mold by trading for Joe Johnson’s toxic contract in order to retain their star player in Deron Williams. The only elite team left without players pairing up is the Oklahoma City Thunder, and that’s only because the team lucked out in finding difference makers through the Draft in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
It seems as though the next few years will be the era of super-teams most likely comprised of the Lakers, the Heat, the Thunder and to a lesser extent; the Knicks and the Nets. But with only a handful of teams really vying for the coveted NBA title, what will happen to the other 20 something teams with almost no hope to win it all? Is NBA parity dead? Will we see the next generation of super stars pair up as well? What are the chances of small market teams against the Big Market powerhouses? It seems as though their only hope is to try and imitate the Oklahoma City mold, and pray that their own superstars won’t leave for greener pastures. Otherwise, we may see a repetitive and predictable match-up in the NBA Finals year in and year out.