Is the player shifting all the bad (Pt. 3)? – BlackSportsOnline
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Is the player shifting all the bad (Pt. 3)?

OK, you read part one and part two.  Time for the third and final installment.   In part one I tackled the flimsy moral outrage over the likes of Lebron, Carmelo, etc. switching teams.  Part two was about smacking down the revisionist history behind players changing teams.  And now we look at the last of the flawed arguments about what’s been going on over the past year.  I’ve listened to several people on the radio and television tell us that the sky is falling because Lebron and Carmelo are starting an arm’s race that will lead to a handful of teams having all the superstars while the rest of the league was unwatchable.  And now I must call BS on them.  Yes, if Chris Paul goes to the Knicks over the summer we will have more consolidation of superstar talent than we do two years ago.  To which I say….so what?

Is the league really worse off with four to six real contenders and the rest of it teams ranging from highly competitive to lousy?  Ummmm…….when has it not been like that?  Allow me to revisit a point I made a year or so ago: in the 1980s, the decade all these writers and radio guys hail as the golden age of basketball, there were a grand total of five teams that played for the NBA title.  The Lakers were in the NBA Finals eight out of ten years, and lost in the western conference finals one of the two years they missed out.  The Celtics made five trips to the Finals and lost in the eastern conference finals two more times.  The Lakers dominated the West for the entire decade, while the East was handed off from the Sixers (three out of four) to Celtics (four straight) to the Pistons (last two).  There were never more than four teams that had a real shot at the title in any year that decade, and it didn’t hurt things one bit.

Let’s look at the Western Conference during that time; the Lakers won it eight times, and of those eight only one was competitive.  They lost a combined 17 games between their eight Western Conference victories, and 24 games total over the entire ten years.  You take out 1987-88, when they had two 4-3 series, and they lost a combined eleven games over seven Western conference playoffs.  There were two years where they went through the entire West without losing one game in the playoffs.  In essence, the West was completely noncompetitive over that period.  On the other side, there was a three way fight between the Celtics, Sixers, and Milwaukee Bucks until 86-87, when the Pistons took over for the next three seasons.  If you’re counting, that’s no more than four teams in any given year that we considered to be legit title contenders.

It was more competitive in the nineties, with twelve total teams playing for the title, but even then you only had four different champs.  And no one hated the nineties, save the abridged 1999 season.  That was the decade of Jordan, where darn near every member of the media was proclaiming the greatness of MJ and the awesomeness of the league he played in.  The sixties were another decade that is held in nostalgia by media people; the Celtics won the title nine out of ten times and a whopping four other teams played for it.    On the other the hand, the seventies featured eight different champions and eleven different teams playing for the title.  And you don’t hear anyone touting that decade as being awesome for basketball; in fact, the seventies are often spoken of us the nadir for NBA basketball.  2000-09 is  considered a mixed bag in terms of it being a good or bad decade (the Lakers were good but you had a parade of lackluster Eastern Conference champs); you had five different champs and ten total teams playing for the title.  So out of the last five decades, the more highly regarded decades were the least competitive, while the most competitive one (the seventies) is also the least liked.  That completely flies in the face of the lament we hear today.

This season we have eight teams that could get to the Finals without anyone being shocked.  That alone kills the entire notion of the league being more top heavy than usual, based on the evidence I’ve laid out here.  This is one of the more competitive seasons in some time; anyone who tells you differently is just giving you bad information.  A handful of title contenders among a sea of also rans isn’t anything new; it’s the way things are in just about every sports league.  Even the beloved NFL, where it is never as wide open as people would have you think.  What matters is excellence on the court or field; excellent teams playing each other is good and excellent teams playing against also rans is at least entertaining.  Yes, mediocrity against mediocrity sucks but that’s the case if it’s the Wizards vs. the Cavaliers or the Cleveland Browns vs. the Carolina Panthers.  If you want to report or comment on something that’s great, but at least get your history straight.  Until next time everyone!

In the next installment, I’ll wrap it all up and give my final assessment of this whole thing.