Today: Jul 16, 2024

Dwight Howard and the plight of the NBA Superstar

Ryan FlynnSports Editor –
I’m going to let you in on a little secret about the balance of power in the National Basketball Association: there is none. It’s a place where the inmates run the prison, where the whim of one whiny superstar can change the makeup of the entire league. The NBA is the one place where a true juggernaut can be built in a single night.

And it’s the best league on the planet.

But, let’s look first at why this is happening, why super teams seem to be composed left and right of late. First and foremost, we start with the idea of a max contract. Because the money that any one player can make is capped, you won’t ever see a case like Mario Williams bolting for Buffalo in the NFL, where he’ll toil in mediocrity while cashing record-setting checks. Throw money out as a reason to pick one spot over another and that only leaves two things: the pursuit of titles and the destination.

Once the players figured this out, it was off to the races.

Kevin Garnett did it first, agreeing to a trade that would create the first of the recent super teams. Almost no one blamed Garnett and rightfully so. He’d been rotting in Minnesota for the better part of his career, wasting his prime on a middling roster. He joined up with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen and immediately brought home that elusive title. Success in year one.

Pretend you’re a young player. LeBron, Dwight, Wade: any top-tier guy. You’re an athlete at the top of your game who can’t get over the hump. You aren’t blessed to be drafted to the right team. (See: Duncan, Tim or Bryant, Kobe). As we already covered, the advantages of choosing a team based on monetary reasons is moot. This is a global sport. You’ll make more in advertisements than you ever will with a ball in your hand.

Let’s say you want to be among the greatest ever. You need to win titles to do that–multiple titles. And no one, not even Michael Jordan has ever won one alone. So, here are your options.

Option A: The Kevin Garnett/Steve Nash path. Play your tail off for a roster never going anywhere, waste your prime, and if you do finally give in, hope you have enough left in the tank to win a title or two with your second team. Stubborn but admirable.

Option B: Switch teams. Join elite talent. Lose some fans, but try to win some titles. Your credibility takes a hit and you have to hope that winning cures all things. Oh, and you HAVE to win. The pressure is on.

If your goal as a player is purely the pursuit of a championship, it becomes a lot more complicated. Especially when you see other players teaming up. LeBron James raised the stakes that much higher when he chose Miami.

So, yes, Dwight’s indecision was one big headache. And the Miami Heat Welcome Party was far from heartwarming. But, the end result is great teams playing against great teams for the ultimate prize.

And guess who the real winner is in that scenario? The fans. You and me.

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