The NBA has become a battle between two teams. And that’s both good and bad for the sport.
It’s good because the two teams are in separate conferences, thus we get to see some pretty epic NBA Finals series’. Admit it: despite the Warriors and Cavaliers only going five games this year, you watched every game to see what would happen. Despite the Warriors overpowering Cleveland in the first two games, you still watched game three to see if LeBron James would respond and lead his team to victory. And even after the Cavs fell just short, you tuned into game four to see if Golden State could complete an historic 16-0 playoffs.
They didn’t, obviously, but that led people to want and watch game five because there was no way LeBron could come back from a 3-0 deficit, right? You just had to watch just to see if he could, somehow, pull off the miracle.
And that’s why the super teams are exciting. When they play each other, it’s must-see TV. You were glued to your television for all five games between the Cavaliers and Warriors, and the ratings showed that. This year’s Finals was the highest viewed Finals since 1998, when another super team, the Chicago Bulls, finished off its second three-peat of the decade, giving them six titles in eight seasons.
Now while these Finals did a great rating, that doesn’t mean it’s good for the game of basketball. Heading into the season, there were two legitimate teams: Golden State, and Cleveland. That’s it. Yes, teams like Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Houston and Boston all seemed poised for good seasons, we all knew that none of those teams were going to have a prayer against the Warriors or Cavs.
This creates for some very, very, VERY, boring basketball. I’m not talking about the games themselves. Basketball is a very entertaining sport to watch and some of the best athletes in the world play in the NBA.
But it all means nothing. The Warriors went 12-0 through the Western Conference playoffs, and the Cavs went 12-1 in the East. For as exciting as Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, Isiah Thomas, and John Wall were this year, it resulted in a combined one victory against the two powers of the game come playoff time.
This leaves the majority of NBA fans left with little hope for their team. If you’re a fan of the Milwaukee Bucks, who had a good year for their standards, how do you feel about your team? The Bucks could rise to the 3-seed next year and maybe get lucky enough to get to the Eastern Conference Finals. But you have to know that if you get there, you’ll be lucky to even win one game against the Cavs. It leaves you with a sense of emptiness. You just know they’re not going to beat them.
And that’s why the super teams are bad for the league. It has left 28 fan bases feeling hopeless. The difference between now and three years ago is tremendous. When the Heat were the only super team in the league, it at least left the Western Conference open to a wide variety of teams to challenge Miami in the Finals.
Now, though, there’s only two teams: Golden State and Cleveland. And while it’s fun when they play each other in the Finals, it leaves a lot to be desired for the first eight-plus months of the season.
Basketball is still an entertaining sport, but super teams hurt the competitiveness of it.