The NBA Finals is still in the first round and we already know one thing for certain – a bought Super Team will not be crowned champion. The Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets combined for ZERO playoff wins this season… and I am loving it!
Boston swept Brooklyn despite the Nets having Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Ben Simmons (sort of) on the roster. Over in the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Lakers failed to make the Play-In Tournament, much less the playoffs. That team features future Hall of Famers LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwight Howard. All that talent couldn’t prevent a losing record.
Super Teams is a nice term used by media and fans to disguise collusion amongst star NBA players. Back in 2003-2004, an aging Karl Malone and Gary Payton joined forces with Shaq and Kobe. The team finished 56-26 in the regular season but lost to the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals.
Seven years later, another bought Super Team – the Miami Heat – also failed to win the NBA Finals. That was when LeBron James took his talents to South Beach, to team up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. That bought Super Team finally got over the hump, winning championship rings the next two seasons, before being stopped by the San Antonio Spurs in 2014.
In 2016-2017, Kevin Durant joined a 73-win Golden State Warriors team to win back-to-back titles. That franchise won three titles in four years. Personally, I believe the first one was Built – not bought. The Warriors drafted Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. Their second and third titles were definitely “bought” the moment they signed Durant as a free agent.
Taking a look at the NBA landscape, it appears as though many of the league’s younger elite players are more team-oriented compared to the LeBron’s and Durant’s of the world. Giannis Antetokounmpo re-signed with the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks. Nikola Jokic, Jayson Tatum, Luka Doncic, and Karl Anthony Towns appear to be planting roots with their home team. This is very reminiscent of when Tim Duncan played for the silver and black for two decades. But even Tim was tempted at one time, nearly joining Grant Hill and the Orlando Magic before deciding to stay with the Spurs.
I’m just happy LeBron and Durant failed with their bought teams. One of the built teams will take the crown this year… and hopefully for years to come.