Showtime in Miami
Too much team talent not good for NBA
By Tim Sabin
Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh sent shockwaves through the National Basketball Association (NBA) when they all decided to play for the Miami Heat this summer. While they have created jaw-dropping highlights and waves of excitement in many NBA arenas, the Big Three (or ‘South Beach Trio’ as Miami fans call it) is not good for the NBA.
As a Milwaukee Bucks season ticket holder and lifelong NBA fan, I see the NBA losing what makes it one of the best leagues in professional sports: parity. There are currently 30 teams in the NBA. This is a pretty average amount of teams in a professional league (Major League Baseball has 30 and the National Football League has 32). The problem is: If three of the top five players in the NBA play for the same team, what happens to the rest of the league? The answer: The league becomes watered down. As of today, there are 16 teams below .500 in the NBA. That’s more than half the league! Two of those teams would be in the Playoffs if they started today! Also, teams such as Cleveland and Toronto (James’ and Bosh’s former teams respectively) have taken huge hits since the stars left to form the Big Three. Toronto is 13-27 and Cleveland is a league worst 8-32. Not only did both of those teams used to have competitive records over the past eight years or so, Cleveland has been one of the best teams in the NBA since they drafted Lebron James in 2003. Now they are complete non factors while Miami has a record of 30-12.
Now I’m not sitting here and saying the Miami Heat will cake walk to a NBA championship this year because the rest of the league is weak. There are a handful of good teams that can knock them off, but wouldn’t it be more exciting if James and Bosh didn’t join Wade in Miami? We could not only watch them all battle each other for the next decade, but there would be more competitive teams in the NBA. As it is, there are currently seven teams with a realistic shot of winning the NBA title (Miami, Boston, Orlando, Chicago, Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio, and Dallas). There are six teams who are well above .500 but they are nowhere close to competing for a championship (Atlanta, New York, Utah, Oklahoma City, Denver, and New Orleans). The other 17 teams are at or under .500. While the parity seems bad in the NBA already, it is only going to get worse. James, Bosh and Wade all signed six year contracts with Miami before the season. During those six years, Boston, Los Angeles, San Antonio, and Dallas will all lose their best players due to retirement or decline in skills. That leaves Orlando and Chicago to compete with them. While Miami may not win the NBA title this year, it is almost certain they will win multiple times over the next six years. Such a predictable league is bad news for the NBA.
A few weeks ago, the Miami Heat paid a visit to Milwaukee to take on the Bucks. As a season ticket holder, I was in attendance. The first thing I noticed was that it was the first sell out of the season. The second thing I noticed was the electricity in the building. It was unlike anything I had seen all year. Lastly, I noticed the Big Three on the court which immediately struck fear into me. The game was an intense battle that ended in an overtime loss to the Bucks (a rare close game for Miami). As I was walking back to my car in the cold Milwaukee weather, I couldn’t help but wish that every Bucks game could be like that. That’s what made me realize how bad the Heat is for the NBA. While that game was exciting and thrilling, the other games cannot be because three of the league’s main stars are on one team. How in the world could I get excited for Cleveland and Toronto when I just saw the South Beach Trio play for Miami? This is how most NBA teams must feel these days. When Miami comes to town they have a sold out crowd with a lot of excitement but when the other teams show up they have half filled arenas where the loudest sound is the possession music.
All in all, when I think of the NBA I think back to how much I loved this league throughout my childhood. I would beg my dad to get me tickets to every Bucks game because I knew it would be exciting no matter what. Now I don’t feel the same way. The Big Three in Miami has hurt the parity in the NBA and it is bad for the league.