Have Pat Riley and the Miami Heat Changed the NBA Forever?
The New Philosophy of Super-Stacking
Pat Riley and the Miami Heat made an unprecedented move in 2010 and the impact of that move was bigger than just the "Big 3". As the gears in Riley's head turned and we were all held hostage by the awfulness that was "The Decison", the NBA saw a shift. Miami had changed the philosophy of general managers and owners across the league. This new adopted philosophy shall be dubbed "Super-Stacking".
Tangents of "Super-Stacking" have been seen over the history of the Association. The Los Angeles Lakers and Jerry Buss tried their own Frankenstein version when they mashed the feuding duo of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal with desperate veterans Karl Malone and Gary Payton. All of Phil Jackson's zen wasn't enough to save that sinking ship.
There was the senior citizen club in Boston where the three savvy vets of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett teamed up with a flourishing star in Rajon Rondo. That combination revived a historic and struggling franchise. There was and still is that fantastic trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili for the San Antonio Spurs.
None of these combinations match the managerial or financial impact that the "Big 3" have had on the league. Before the formation of the "Big 3", the typical strategy of teams and GMs were one or two superstars, solid role players, a strong bench and a veteran coach. Riley and the Heat broke that mold.
The new philosophy: sign as many superstars as possible under the salary cap, give them a couple solid role players and throw in a heap of washed up veterans. So far it has paid off for Miami with flying colors and other teams are beginning to follow the band wagon. More and more front offices are giving the "Super-Stacked" strategy a shot and have caused some significant changes to the NBA landscape since 2010.
The Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers have gone through a tremendous turnaround over the last few seasons. Known as the ugly duckling of Los Angeles and always stuck in the Lakers shadow, they made a name for themselves after drafting Blake Griffin and eventually adding Chris Paul to their roster.
Over the last two seasons, the Clippers have tried numerous combinations around their star duo but haven't cracked the code. We have seen the likes of Caron Butler, Mo Williams, Jamal Crawford, Chauncey Billups, Grant Hill and Kenyon Martin join the blue and red, but all those variations of stars, veterans and role players have not been enough to take LA's secondary team to the top of the league. Maybe the newest addition of all-star coach Doc Rivers will be the missing link in the city of angels.
The Los Angeles Lakers
Last season, the Lakers once again tried to create a dream roster but added a wrong ingredient and ended up with Frankenstein 2.0. We have seen something like this disaster before in LA during the '03-'04 season. Los Angeles was hoping to make a big splash and see the results that Miami had seen.
GM Mitch Kupchak could feel Bryant's career approaching the top of the hill and knew he had little time left with the aging superstar. On paper, the Lakers looked as good as the Heat. The combination of Bryant, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash and Dwight Howard would catapult them back to the top of the West. Well, Mike D'Antoni did not have the right approach in dealing with all the egos that Hollywood had to offer.
The dream in LA slowly eroded as Howard whined and cried, Bryant tore his Achilles tendon and Nash mummified himself with towels on the sideline. Frankenstein 2.0 was a full blown failure and Howard made the entire organization look stupid when he pack his bags and booked it to Houston.
The Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets have been dealt some bad hands over the last decade. It appeared that the franchise had found a dynamic duo in Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady, but McGrady was McGrady and Yao's body grew too quick for his bones. After being stuck in failure and mediocrity for the last few seasons, the Rockets made some noise when they traded for rising star James Harden and signed New York sensation Jeremy Lin last summer.
Houston has continued to add to their arsenal. The latest addition to the big state of Texas is Dwight Howard. The catastrophe that is known as Howard's lone season in LA is over and behind us all. The Rockets were willing to bet the farm that the 7-footer would mesh well with Harden and Lin. Everything looks great on paper and Houston is a championship contender, but Howard has been known to ruin teams and end coaching careers.
The Brooklyn Nets
Over a decade removed from the glory days of Jason Kidd and New Jersey in the NBA Finals, a plethora of changes have occurred to the Nets franchise. After years of being at the bottom of the barrel, new owner and Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov has brought the Nets back to prominence in the East. The additions of Joe Johnson and Deron Williams combined with the move to Brooklyn, has returned life to a faltering organization.
The Nets have not stopped there. After their best season since the Kidd and Richard Jefferson era, Brooklyn was part of a blockbuster trade this summer. Taking a page out of Riley's book, Prokhorov added veterans Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry. Along with new coach Kidd, Brooklyn has all their eggs in one basket and are hoping the new acquisitions can challenge Miami.
The Miami Heat
This all started with the vision of a basketball genius and became reality when one of the greatest players of all time uttered those famous words heard around the world: "I'm going to take my talents to South Beach". Pat Riley's ingenuity and LeBron Jame's yearning for a title made the "Big 3" possible in Miami and started a new era in the Association. No team had ever cleared enough cap space to sign three max contracts, let along have enough money left over to fill the remaining roster positions.
The philosophy of "Super-Stacking" was invented by Riley,with a bit of credit going to Mickey Arison's check book. The Heat successfully meshed three "the main man" players with a pile of delinquents and ring chasing veterans. Whether or not the "Big 3" and Miami are good for the league is another argument, but there is no doubt that the Heat have changed the league for the foreseeable future.