Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dear NBA Superstars

What max contracts?

Can you feel it in the air? Can you? It's almost here. Two weeks from now, NBA junkies like myself will finally get their fix. The player's union finally figured out that any games are better than no games, while the owners jumped off their high horses and compromised. Training camps begin in a week or so, but free agency is the talk of the town. Of all Chris Broussard's 'sources', the rumor that Chris Paul wants to join the Lakers is a fun, but sad one. That said, NBA superstars, I implore you to stay where you are!

In 2008, the Boston Celtics shook the SportsCenter-addicted masses when they crafted the inaugural 'Big 3' on draft night. Fast forward to 2011, and the concept of the Big 3 has been played out more than slow-mo club scenes in rap videos. Shout out to LeBron and Chris Bosh for making the idea a mainstay, but with all due respect, NBA superstars, the constant need for 3 superstars to band together is an inefficient, lame cop-out for franchises who don't know how to build teams. Look no further than my own hometown Knicks. Before the Carmelo Anthony trade, we had a legitimate squad from 1 through 9. Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari and Raymond Felton were perfect pieces for a deep Playoff run. Instead we have a decimated roster full of scrubs like Jared Jeffries and Ronny Turiaf... But wait... We have Carmelo and A'Mare!!! That's still not enough.

NBA superstars, look at the 2011 Dallas Mavericks for the blueprint on how to build a team sans mortgaging your. Dirk Nowitzki was maligned, ridiculed, and castigated for his lack of resolve during the Playoffs, yet on the big stage this year, was surrounded by a cast of role players that was unbreakable. If it wasn't Jason Terry hitting a record number of three-pointers, it was Tyson Chandler (happy trails) providing a resolute defensive presence in the paint, or Shawn Marion being the glue guy with rebounds and floor placement, or Jason Kidd playing the consumate veteran role and giving the Mavericks a second voice of leadership. The Mavericks beat everyone's new favorite team with one superstar and a perfect team built to debunk the new trend. Defense, chemistry and basketball IQ trumped athleticism, potential and hype. They proved that you don't need to buy out the bar to still have a good night.

This is to you Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. This letter is in response to the teams that will bluff a trio of 15 point scorers for one 28 point scorer. This is for GM's like Mitch Kupchak, Pat Riley and the like who have no imagination and less patience. This is for bandwagon fans who gravitate to whichever team has more stars. This is for Chris Broussard and his unreliable 'sources' on every movement in the NBA. But most of all, this is for the NBA. NBA superstars, you've forgotten what it means to stand on your own two. You'd rather team up with your friends than compete against them. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were friends off the court, but bitter enemies from wire to wire. The same can be said of any of Jordan's compatriots.

That's not to say that this era of the NBA should be one of big stars in small markets. I can understand how disconcerting playing for a bad team as a good player is. Even so, rather than use your celebrity to request a trade, why not try to bring in players you know will mesh with you. LeBron and Wade were doomed because they essentially play the same position and had no one to fill in, not because of defense or any completely objective criteria. As a student of basketball, I recognize that in this talent-filled era of the NBA, winning with no help is impossible. However, that the prospect of building a team has gone out the window is sad. You all should be looking to carry the load instead of teaming up to lessen it. If I'm wrong, then why is the season starting on Christmas, instead of a month and a half ago?

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