We were all witness to the Lebron James extravaganza that held the fates of New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Miami, and Cleveland in its hands. And we were all less than surprised when James chose to team up with fellow free agents Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade in order to try and win a championship with the Heat.
Fans in Cleveland and New York rightfully felt betrayed and angered by the decision, but all misgivings aside, James followed his desire to win a championship in making his decision, and obviously felt that by helping to create a super team in South Beach was his best means to an end. Then again, nothing is guaranteed in sports, and the games will still need to be played. That all said, there is one thing that bears saying about this whole ordeal:
No sport or league needs a super team.
Certainly, we can say teams like the Yankees and now the Heat did things the right way within the confines of the system in place, but buying superstars and championships goes beyond following the rules. It drops into the realms of fair play and competitive balance, which any league needs to maintain to stay successful for the long-term.
It can definitely be argued that teams like the Knicks and Nets put themselves into a position where all of their eggs were in one basket, hinging their team hopes on James signing with them. Then again, New York hedged their bets a bit by signing Amare Stoudamire first, giving them at least a semblance of a fallback option. The Nets, already the dredge of the NBA, were hoping for the best, but in reality are best served by continuing along in their rebuilding process and putting their money into multiple players that can help facilitate that process.
Still, a conglomeration of superstar players mitigates the drawing power of certain teams, again putting all the eggs into one basket. Certainly, there are other teams in the league with superstar players, but now there is an even greater separation between the haves and the have-nots. Leagues rely on the drawing power of their superstars to carry the weight of ticket sales. By limiting the spread of these players across the league, you limit the home drawing power of the have-nots, as well as the increased drawing power of these players on the road in other arenas and stadiums. Less ticket sales further tempers the ability of teams to field competitive teams due to salary restrictions, and the downward spiral continues.
Baseball likes to throw around its most recent buzzword, “parity”, and for the most part, they’ve done a good job of getting some of the smaller market clubs competitive, despite the obvious disparity in revenues of teams like New York and Boston. The NFL has excelled in that department thanks in part to a very stringent salary cap system. It goes without saying why those two leagues are successful, despite the down economy, of spreading the wealth between the players and the owners.
The NBA, as the third largest league in the United States, despite its own salary cap, still seemingly caters towards a small pocket of teams, so it is not surprising to see the league in financial straights, similar to where the NHL was a few years back when they locked out the players for an entire season. Despite the examples set by the other two powerhouse leagues, the NBA still see the means to an end as giving more to the select few and as such, they’ll continue to be pulled down, super team or not.
Lebron says he’ll sign with Miami Heat, foxsports.com