DeMarcus Cousins going to Warriors might finally break NBA
We’ve always known what an exclusive club the NBA is. The evidence has been right there from the beginning. All sports have their haves, and all sports have their have-nots, but both ends of that spectrum are usually populated by a rotating cast of characters.
Not in the NBA.
The NBA has been in business for 73 years. The Celtics have won 17 championships and the Lakers 16 (the first five in Minneapolis). The Bulls have won six, as have the Warriors (the first two when they were based in Philadelphia). The Spurs have won five. The Pistons, Heat and 76ers have won three each (the Sixers’ first one coming in their incarnation as the Syracuse Nats).
Add that up. That’s eight teams who have won 59 of the 73 titles. Want to add the two other multiple titlists in Houston and New York (and why shouldn’t we hand Knicks fans an unexpected sliver of pride?) Fine. That makes 10 teams that have won 63 of the 73 titles.
And here’s the thing:
The initial free-agency binge of 2018 has all but guaranteed that by this time next year, it’s still going to be 10 teams, only it’s going to be 64 out of 74. And that first number seems certain to be stuck in place for a few years to come. Boogie Cousins’ decision to join the Warriors on a one-year, $5.3 million deal had a three-pronged effect on most basketball fans:
3. A belief that we can all just fast-forward to June and just get right to Warriors/Rockets in the West and Celtics/Sixers in the East and proceed from there without the annoyance of a regular season and early-round playoff silliness.
(And think about that for a second. Think about what happened Sunday – LEBRON JAMES SIGNED WITH THE LAKERS!!! – and a couple days later, thanks in part to the Lakers’ curious choice of supporting players, LeBron isn’t even in that part of the conversation. In truth, seeing if LeBron can lead that growing cast of knuckleheads to a conference finals might be the most interesting thing about next season)
Out of all of this, a terrific question arises out of the dust:
Is this good for the NBA?
Is this good for the sport at large?
Remember, a few years ago it seemed that the Yankees and Red Sox had vaulted to a rarefied place atop baseball, where the sun shone too hotly and the pressure was too great for anyone else to compete. And yet, since that first great Cold War, there have been World Series won in Kansas City, in St. Louis (twice), in San Francisco (three times!), Houston and even in Chicago, where one team hadn’t won since 1917 and the other since 1908. Turns out nobody had to break up the Yankees or the Red Sox: The sport did it for them, through natural selection.
The Patriots have come closest to emulating what the Warriors have done, winning so much and building such an unparalleled winning culture that players crave to be a part of it. And they’ve won plenty. But not every year. The NFL is still a league where, right now, you can make a solid argument that 10 teams could win the Super Bowl next year.
Right now, it looks like there are just three: Golden State, Houston and Boston. Things can change between now and then, sure. Players get hurt. Teams slump. Maybe the Sixers are ready to take a leap next year. Maybe the Jazz are. Maybe LeBron really does have another Jedi Mind Trick in him. All of that is possible, for sure.
But is it realistic?
Is there any way we aren’t watching the Warriors in the Finals again next year? Look, basketball has been built, on all levels, on the backs of its dynasties. The Lakers, Celtics and Bulls. UCLA and Duke. You never have to look very far to find a boogie man to root against.
It’s just that, this time, the boogie man actually added a guy named Boogie. That almost feels like one bridge too far.
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