LeBron James Created the First Super Team in NBA History
I know many would disagree with the title, but after reading this you will change your mind. The biggest thing in this argument is dependent on what you define a super team as. What I define a super team as is a team that many believe is a forgone conclusion that they will be in the NBA finals, or win the championship. I also believe that a real super team is created by a trade nor by drafting a good team. The reasoning behind this is if you make a good trade that reflects on a good front office. Teams would be very reluctant to form a super team by trade, it’s almost like creating your own downfall. No one wants to create a team that they can’t beat for the foreseeable future. Teams may have made trades to create a really good team, but not a super team. Many people were against the trade that would send Chris Paul to the Lakers, which would team him up with Kobe Bryant. The NBA actually vetoed this trade. This shows how reluctant some front offices would be to even send one more all star to an already good team. When you send a player to a team, most general managers are not expecting that team to dominate the conference, or league for the next four to six years. Which is exactly what a super team does. When you do your research and draft accordingly to your team needs, and the talent available in the draft, it does not make a super team. When you draft a player one may have the assumption that that player will turn out good, but yet it still isn’t a guarantee. So if an organization were to draft 3 players that they THINK will turn out good, and they do turn out good is more so a coincidence. When super teams are created the vast majority of people have the strong inclination that the team will be in the NBA finals, or win the NBA finals. By the definition provided the Miami Heat when LeBron arrived, the Golden State Warriors when Durant arrived, and the Cleveland Cavilers when LeBron came back are the only super teams in NBA history.
Some of what has been said so far cannot even be fathomed by some of you, but bare with me. The biggest rebuttal to the LeBron starting super teams argument is that there were several super teams before he went to the Miami Heat. The teams that often come up in this argument are the Celtics in the 80s, Jordan’s Bulls, the Celtics when they traded for Kevin Garnett, Magic’s Lakers, the Lakers when Payton and Malone joined, and some people even have the audacity to mention Tim Duncan’s Spurs. The reason some people think that these are super teams is because they all stand true to the format that LeBron chose for his super team. That format being that all the teams mentioned “had three all stars playing on the same team at the same time.” Which is far from the truth, and doesn’t match the definition provided. Your definition may be different but this is the one that we are going to use. Since James had the format of three all stars on one team, everybody just went with the idea that if a team has three all stars then they are a super team. Which ironically when those teams were at their peak no one referred to them as super teams. The term super team came into existence when James joined the Heat, yet no one mentions that. If that’s the case were the 2015 Hawks a super team, a team that had four all stars. Many wouldn’t think so, many people did not believe in that team, or believed that they would end up in the finals because they knew once playoff time rolls around that they would end up facing a real super team in the Miami Heat.
I don’t think any of the teams fit the definition. The Celtics in the 80s were a good team, but I don’t consider them a super team because their three best players were Larry Bird, Robert Parish, and Kevin McHale. They were all all stars in their own right, but Bird was drafted, so was McHale, and Parish was acquired via trade. When a player is traded or drafted by a team he has no choice but to play for that organization. A super team is created based on the level of competition at that time, not just on the talent on one team. The competition in the Eastern Conference was a lot tougher during the 1980s in comparison to when LeBron was on the Heat, and the game was a lot more physical.
The fact that Micheal Jordan’s Bulls are brought up in the super team debate is laughable. People forget to mention that two out of six championships that Jordan won only had one all star on the team… which was him. People again always come back to the big three rebuttal, that he had Dennis Rodman and Scottie Pippen beside him. When bring this up people forget to mention that Rodman was only there for the second three-peat run, and that Rodman was never an all star on the Bulls. Rodman was an integral part of the team, and those titles, but they certainly don’t qualify for a super team. The level of competition back then was also tougher, more physical, and Jordan had to go up against some pretty competitive teams within his conference. This might be the clearest of the examples that is not a super team.
I’ve heard plenty people say that the ’08 Celtics was the first team to start the big three super team format. They may have been the first to start the big 3 format, but certainly not the first to start the super team trend. For one Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett were acquired by trade, just a good move by the Celtics front office. The level of competition was also pretty decent at this time. Dwight Howard’s Magic, Chauncey Billups’ Pistons, and LeBron’s Cavs were all respectable teams at this point. It wasn’t a foregone conclusion that once the Celtics acquired Garnett that they were going to the finals. When LeBron chose during his free agency to go to the Miami Heat we knew that for the next four years who would be representing the Eastern Conference in the finals.
The next team that some people classify as a super team is the showtime Lakers in the 80s. The same age old argument that since this team had a big three that it must have been a super team. Once again Magic Johnson was drafted, James Worthy was drafted, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was acquired by trade. If a team drafts their way to a be a really good team all that shows is the players worked hard and stayed on the same team.
The next team that some people claim was a super team was the 2004 Lakers that added Gary Payton and Karl Malone to go along side Shaq and Kobe. In this particular case people get caught up on the names. When you hear the names Payton, Bryant, O’Neal, and Malone you automatically think super team. On this team though Payton was 35 and Malone was 40. Two all stars well past their primes. That season had six 50 win teams, so clearly there was at least a decent level of competition. Which adds to the reasoning for them not being a super team.
Yet another classic example of 3 all stars equals a super team in San Antonio. The Spurs success is due more so to their coach’s coaching style. Popovich’s style incorporates everyone with ball movement. Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili were all drafted by the Spurs. The three were never all stars during the same year. You shouldnt ridicule nor complain about a franchise drafting and developing 3 really good players, but you should be able to complain about a star player going to a team that make the odds overwhelmingly in their favor.
Super teams are straight up bad for the NBA. Teams dominating conferences is boring. Nobody wants to watch something knowing the outcome. Imagine watching a movie knowing exactly how it’s going to end, you probably wouldn’t enjoy it the same way. With this current day Warriors team barring any unforeseen circumstances they will win yet another championship. This championship will be their 3rd straight, their 4th in five years, and their 5th straight finals appearance. Ever since Durant showed up, the Warriors immediately became the overwhelming favorite to win the championship. If you’re LeBron and you make a move to tip the odds dramatically in your favor, then you can’t be upset when someone does the same thing. If you created the trend, don’t be upset when somebody one up’s you.