So how ‘bout that Durant deal, huh?
Sean touched on this yesterday about how this signing basically ruins basketball and everything. He’s biased anyways because he hates the Golden State Warriors more than almost anything fathomable, but he’s completely right. However, it’s not like this problem of parity in the NBA didn’t already exist.
In 2006, the 83-win St. Louis Cardinals took down the 95-win Detroit Tigers to win the World Series. Just two seasons ago, the San Francisco Giants won it all after winning only 88 games in the regular season. Aaron Rodgers’s only Super Bowl title came when his team was a 6th seed. When they won the Stanley Cup in 2012, the Los Angeles Kings had won only 40 games in the regular season, and they needed to win their final game in order to get into the playoffs.
The NBA, on the other hand? If you’re not at the very least a 4-seed, you’re screwed. You’re basically playing for pride. Only on two occasions in the entire history of the league has a team with a 4 seed or lower been crowned champions (the 1995 Houston Rockets and 1969 Boston Celtics). Before Durant even left Oklahoma City, there were only three teams that had a chance in the Western Conference – his Thunder, the Warriors, and the Spurs (who always have a chance). In the East? It’s the Cavaliers. Maybe the Heat, depending upon who you ask.
This transaction, which knocks the Thunder down a few bars as it makes the Warriors better, monopolizes the West. Even the Spurs aren’t real contenders – they might make noise, mess around, and get to the Conference Finals next year. But they’re old. Period. LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard are the only two exceptional players left on their roster, and it’s honestly debatable whether either would start on this new Warriors squad. The NBA preaches parity, and they put action behind their words a few years back when they rejected a trade that would’ve sent Chris Paul to the then-dominant Lakers.
If the NBA wants to actually make their product better, they would figure this stuff out in the next collective bargaining agreement, because honestly you might as well not tune in to any NBA games until the Finals next year, when it will be another Warriors-Cavs rematch without question. I get they still have to go play the games, and as good as they are on paper, the Warriors still have their own problems to sort out, but come on… do you see either team losing in a four-game series to anyone except each other?
I like free agency and everything, and I’m not even a sore sport for KD leaving OKC and spurning Boston (because remember, I could live without him). I just like competition. Watch any NBA regular season game, and you’ll see a contest with no defense, no effort, and no sense of competitive nature. It’s not like that in the NFL, where even the Cleveland Browns could give you a good game once in a while, or the NHL, where you can sneak into the playoffs and be crowned champions.
I don’t know what the answer is. Maybe have a committee that approves each and every transaction? That’s rather draconian for a professional sport, but it could work. Maybe condense the league? That would be dramatic, it would isolate fans from cities that would lose teams, but it would also squeeze out the dead weight in the league. Regardless, figure it out, because the NBA sucks as a league. And they don’t care, because either way, they’re going to get their ratings and get your money.
Cover Photo via opencourt-basketball.com.