- Mamadou Tall
The NBA is Turning into 2K MyLeague
Updated: Apr 4, 2021
Not even going to waste no time, I'm going to get straight to it. This isn't good.
I'm not hating. I'm not even upset about what's been going on as of late. Just here to point out the obvious. It's not fun seeing the league's best players all playing in the same jersey for a full season. No need for subliminal shots, we all know who I'm talking about; the Brooklyn Nets and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Prior to this season, it seemed as if the era of the super team wasn't going to be a thing for some years. It was now the era of the duos with Anthony Davis and LeBron James winning last seasons championship as a duo. All that lasted for one season. In fact exactly 95 days after the Lakers won the championship a super team was formed.
January 14, 2021 will be one of those days that will be remembered in NBA history. That was the day the Nets made the trade for James Harden while managing to keep Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. From the jump, we all knew what was going on. You throw one of the greatest scorers we have ever seen in James Harden on a team with arguably the greatest scorer of all time in Kevin Durant and thats about enough. Now add in the "lesser" of the trio, Kyrie Irving, one of the most offensively skilled players in today's game and you have a problem. Although the trio of Durant, Harden, and Irving was a problem for the league, they had flaws. A problem with flaws. Those flaws came in the form of defense and depth on their bench. It was obvious, the team was top heavy and the ones on the top (Harden and Irving) aren't that heavy on defense. They had some type of weakness that could be exploited and give other teams a chance.
Brooklyn Nets general manager, Sean Marks, must have heard all the chatter about weaknesses and said, "watch what I'm about to do next." In the month of March the Nets signed six-time All Star Blake Griffin and seven-time All Star LaMarcus Aldridge to one year veteran minimum deals through the buyout market. Former All Stars who aren't that far removed from their hay day are now on the same team as Brooklyn's already explosive trio.
Unfair? Hell no. Sean Marks as the general manager did his job, and as free agents who were bought out Aldridge and Griffin had the right to sign anywhere.
Corny? Maybe a little bit.
To pin all the blame on the Nets isn't right though. While they secured Griffin and Aldridge, the Lakers did the same exact thing snatching up Andre Drummond through the buyout market. Drummond is a two-time All Star and four-time league leader in rebounds. Drummond joining AD and LeBron in LA is a power move in the Western Conference that mirrors the Nets move in the Eastern Conference.
How did we get here? Where the NBA's general managers are moving like they're playing NBA 2k MyLeague or something. The way my friends used to make super teams and throw stars on the same team, that's the way these general managers are moving. Rightfully so, it's their job we can't blame them. Who do I blame? LeBron James and Kevin Durant. Those are the only two logical options to point blame towards.
LeBron lit the spark that made forming super teams a norm in 2010 with "The Decision." LeBron leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to join two super stars in Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh on the Miami Heat was a big deal. Far just beyond who would win championships during those four years. That move ultimately affected how players would begin to maneuver as free agents in result effecting up to a decade of basketball singlehandedly.
LeBron's decision in 2010 would be outdone by Kevin Durant six years later. On July 4, 2016 Kevin Durant wrote a piece on the The Players Tribune titled "My Next Chapter" where he pretty much announced he would be joining the Golden State Warriors. Prior to KD joining the Warriors they were champions, they had the best regular season record in NBA history, a two-time MVP (one of them unanimous) in Stephen Curry. To make matters worst a couple months before that KD and the OKC Thunder blew a 3-1 post season lead to the same team he joined.
Each of those moves proved to be successful for both LeBron and KD. The moves helped them win championships, but it also came with criticisms. Prior to LeBron making his move, most super teams were formed through the draft and traded with examples such as the 80s Celtics, big three era Celtics, or even the San Antonio Spurs during the Greg Popovich and Tim Duncan era. Now its all done by players intentionally making the jobs of the general managers that much easier, and eliminating some aspect of parity within the league.
Like I said earlier, none of this upsets me. New waves start all the time, they just take some getting used to. Super teams are becoming normalized and it seems like that's the new wave. LeBron James started it, Kevin Durant took it to another level, and now we are seeing players force their way off of teams through trades now. Looking at this trend, I can only see it growing. Very few players are choosing loyalty over instant winning, it makes for a lot of drama but not a lot of competition, leaving the Damian Lillards and Giannis Antetokounpos no chance at winning on their present teams.
Forming super teams on NBA 2K was all fun and games because it was literally a game, super teams in real life is no fun and boring games. I'm still watching regardless.