Super teams in the NBA: The Downfall of Professional Basketball

December 13, 2011

Political Theory

For the last couple of weeks, there has only been one thing on my mind: the NBA. After sifting through many various topics that I would find ‘appealing’ to a reader, I realized that it is engrained in me to talk about what I cannot get out of my head. Being an avid basketball fan for my entire life, I’ve had an anger and resentment towards the NBA since the ‘decision,’ where, for those who don’t know, Lebron James decided to leave his home team (Cavaliers) for a place where he would receive help (the Heat). My problem was that up until now I could not figure out why I was so angry with Lebron.  Despite the COLOSSAL failure of the ‘decision,’ he took less money to play with the best teammates the league has to offer. This has led to a domino effect where players are teaming up together to become super teams. Not only are the best players in the league playing together, but also they are demanding to do so. This is the real reason I am infuriated with the NBA. It is not Lebron leaving for the Miami Heat; it is the fact that he can do so with such ease. The reason being that commissioner David Stern has lost control of the league and has failed to set boundaries. He has suddenly become a dictator that the players do no respect. The NBA just had a lockout two weeks ago to solve the problem of ‘super teams.’ That was one of the main reasons of the lockout right? David Stern had lost control not only of the players, but the owners too. He failed to create a fair system that promotes parody over power, and we will all pay the price.  While I am not in favor of the current status of the NBA, isn’t it impossible to argue that what Lebron and Carmelo have done is wrong, when their leadership did not stop them?  


                             The only way to win in today’s NBA

            I personally believe there is one reason and one reason only why these super teams are being created, which is David Stern losing control and trying too hard to dictate. David Stern in the last decade has become what Hobbes believes society needs, which is a strict dictator. His latest power trip has popped up after he vetoed great? Chris Paul trades to the Los Angeles Clippers and Lakers in the last week. When a leader fears that he has lost respect and power, he tries even harder to establish fear in his people. This is exactly what David Stern has done, and the problem with Hobbes’ philosophy as a whole.

So what would philosopher Thomas Hobbes think about the fact of players teaming up with one another? Would he believe that David Stern has caused them to do this? While his hope for an absolutist dictator sounds good in theory, in real life it does not work. Hobbes believed in his philosophy that there would be one person in power dictating the liberties of everyone else. In the case, it seems that the players have adapted Hobbes view and made themselves the ones who dictate the future of the league.  More importantly, what would Hobbes say about David Stern’s current job as commissioner? Would he agree that Stern’s strict philosophy caused the failure of the lockout?




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11 Comments on “Super teams in the NBA: The Downfall of Professional Basketball”

  1. acicurel Says:

    I completely agree that David Stern needs to go. This past year especially with the lockout showed that he has no control over the league and cannot do his job. I find it hard to apply Hobbes in this situation merely because he argues that the only legitimate reason to overthrow a ruler is if the ruler tries to kill the people. Obviously this cannot apply to this situation, but you do raise a good point. Hobbes should not be used in nongovernmental situations such as this and that is why why allow for unions. The fact that we can even discuss Stern as a Hobbesian ruler means that there is a breakdown in the union process that must result in his removal as commissioner.

  2. zamateau Says:

    As an extremely avid basketball fan, I have also been distraught about the recent change in the NBA. Players are now going to teams where there are already all-stars with hopes of winning “multiple championships”, as Lebron said prior to the 2010-2011 season. Also, players are going to teams where there friends play. This was seen with various players, with the most recent being Chris Paul asking to be traded to the Knicks to play with friends Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire. However, I don’t see this to be the full problem of the NBA. I agree with you that David Stern has acted undemocratically and unjustly in the past few months. By rejecting the Chris Paul trades, David Stern is overstepping his boundaries as commissioner of the NBA. Every trade that has been proposed has been fair for all teams involved, and I believe in prior years would have been accepted. This year though, David Stern seems adequate on not allowing this trade to go through and keeping Chris Paul in New Orleans for the season. I believe that this is a plan by Stern to land Chris Paul in New York in the offseason, creating a big 3 in New York that can compete with the Miami Heat for the next 10 years. As a Knick fan, I would love to see this happen. But, looking at the league as a whole, there is no reason Stern should be vetoing these trades. He is losing control of the league, and it is seen in the growing resentment of his decisions throughout the NBA.

  3. mturner1013 Says:

    David Stern is doing a terrible job at what he is getting payed to do. The lockout has changed nothing, and it is very apparent with the lakers pursuing Paul, and along with all the rumbling that they are also pursuing Dwight Howard. This could potentially ruin the NBA because if all the stars are located on only a few teams, the league is going to become very unbalanced, and even unfair. However, there is almost no way to stop this, this is outside the power of sterns dictatorship, unless he wants to take away the rights of all NBA owners and teams, and tell them that they cannot spend their money how they want. If NBA teams want to spend 95% of their money on 3 players, then that is their right to do so. The only way to stop that is taking away their rights. If players want to except less money to play on a better team, then that is also their right. Even a dictator cannot decide how much a player is worth, and force him to except that amount if he wants to except less. So unfortunatley the movement that Lebron started last year has already had its effect on the rest of the stars mindset, and the movement towards super teams has already had its way, and regardless of what Stern does, and how powerful of a dictator he can become, I do not think there is a way to stop this.

  4. mzselig Says:

    I completely agree that David Stern has lost control of the league and needs to go. The simple fact is, he can not control the NBA, its players, and its owners in the manner he would like to. His attempts to prevent the creations of super teams have already failed, look at Miami and soon to be the Knicks, so these new attempts at preventing players from teaming up is coming off as pure power-hunger. He allowed Lebron James and Chris Bosh to team up with Dwayne Wade in Miami to create a team that, on paper, is seemingly unbeatable so his attempts to prevent Chris Paul from going to the Lakers or the Clippers now appear to be unfounded and pointless.
    His downfall began with the lockout. He allowed a debate to snowball out of control to the point where it cut into one third of the entire season, costing huge amounts of money and enraging fan bases across the nation. His inability to take command during times in which it is needed has now destroyed any chances he has to become the all-powerful commander of the NBA which Hobbes would endorse.

  5. scottmha Says:

    I do not mind, David Stern not allowing super teams, I actually am in favor of him inhibiting the formation of these teams. But the way he went about it was completely wrong. If he wished to stop super teams, he cant pick and chose only some to stop you have to stop all of them. By allowing the Heat, and i guess you can consider the Knicks somewhat of a super team, to get these unbeatable teams through free agency, he passed a message saying teams are allowed to do as they please. Which was fine with me competition is competition, if the players selfishly decide to all go to one place and reduce the competition than thats their fault. But when Stern vetoed the proposed trade that had Chris Paul going to the Lakers, giving them an all star like team, he crossed the line. Effectively he said, I wont allow the formation of super teams, unless they are produced through free agency, thats some BS to me.
    If I was commish, I would not allow the formation of any super teams, expressing my power in all cases, being similar to what the models for Hobbes would be. This is because, parody is what makes a sport exciting all the way down to the finish, with these super teams there is not much room for parody. Sure you can say the Mavericks won this past year, but in actualization with multiple super teams forming across the league it is hard to visualize anyone but those teams winning in the future. So, flashback to the summer of 2010, what would I do to prevent the signing of Lebron to the heat? While many people would think this is unfair, I would probably make a rule stating that no team can have more than two players who makes over 12.4 million a year (the average salary of the 2011 all-star team) effectively not allowing any team to be composed of multiple all stars. As far as trades go, I’d veto any trade that results in a team having more than 2 people above this salary. David Stern has not expressed his power at the right time only intervening when it was already too late. Stern has made the wrong decisions, at the wrong time, while the NBA may be back from its lockout, I know I won’t be watching it any time soon.

  6. zrobbins24 Says:

    I agree that David Stern is losing, or has already lost, control of the NBA. However, there is a difference between what he is doing with the Chris Paul situation and what happened with the Heat last summer. Chris Paul is still under contract with an organization that happens to be owned by the NBA. Therefore, Stern as commissioner, with the ultimate power, is, in a way, able to control the team’s actions. Last year, Lebron and Bosh were both free agents. They were not under contract with any teams, let alone one that is owned by the NBA, and consequently, they could sign with any team they liked.

    In my opinion, a better comparison between what is happening with Chris Paul would be what happened in Boston a few years ago. Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen were both traded to the Celtics in the offseason and teamed up with Paul Pierce to form the “Big 3” in Boston, a few years before Lebron, Wade, and Bosh became the “Big 3” in Miami. Stern, at that time, could have vetoed those trades if he felt they were unfair. However, he did not, whereas he has for the multiple Chris Paul trade scenarios. I feel the reason why teams are starting to form these “super teams” is because of the success the Celtics had, and will still have (I am a Celtics fan if you have not already guessed), in recent years. Teams are thinking about the short-term and want to win championships now, instead of doing it the old-fashioned way in developing players and winning through the draft.

  7. chkeeler Says:

    David Stern’s actions were an infringement upon the league, its players, the fans, and the the idea of capitalism. By preventing a trade that would create another team of superstars, he basically promoted himself as a dictator that people should fear. I saw this as an act to quickly prove his power as part of the new labor contract the NBA finally signed last week. He wanted to give the impression that he cared about the balance of power within the league. However, if he truly felt this way, he would have vetoed Lebron James decision to join the Heat last season.
    What were the implications of this trade veto? He lost all credibility from both fans and non-fans alike. Players have lost respect for the man to the point of no return. There is no longer a feeling of anticipation for the NBA season to commence, as there would have been if this trade had been put into affect. He also promoted communistic ideals by telling teams who they can and cannot have, despite the teams having both the approval from the other teams and the money to do so. The NBA’s reputation had already been tarnished by the prolonged lockout: Stern’s actions only made the situation worse. Unless something drastically changes, I doubt casual fans will follow the NBA closely this season.

  8. rmwells3 Says:

    Daivd Stern is losing control of the players, but not control of the owners. However, the player’s individual reasons for forming these loaded team does not match Hobbesian basic human nature. And thus, I don’t think Hobbes applies to this situation. Hobbes writes that all individuals would be willing to give up certain rights as long as it applied to every one else and or that every individual would pursue the best ultimate ends for themselves through a system of equality. These loaded teams require that certain players, not all, take pay cuts which isn’t promoting the best ultimate ends for those players and are creating an unequal distribution of talent which eliminates that desire for equality. Although, I would agree, David Stern’s role as an anarchic figure is deteriorating and applicable to Hobbesian’s state of nature, i find that the social system Hobbes refers to is completely different from the one that the NBA revolves around.

  9. ceabee Says:

    I am in complete agreement that David Stern needs to go. I am extremely disappointed in the way he handled the lockout. However, I am also disappointed in the way the player’s reacted. I think the players need to realize how incredibly lucky they are to be doing what they love for a living, and making such insane money off of it. Also, it does appear that the players have adopted Hobbes view and made themselves the ones who dictate the future of the league. However, I think this is wrong. The players should realize that they are EMPLOYEES, not owners or bosses of any kind. I think this is a testament to how there is no real leadership in the league.

    In regards to Lebron James and Chris Paul trying to create “super teams,” I don’t think they are necessary in order to win championships. Take this past season for example. The Heat made it to the finals against the Mavs, a team without a “big 3.” The Mavs were able to win the title with only one real superstar in Dirk Nowitski. I am a firm believer that any team that can completely buy into their system, listen to their coach, play unselfishly together, and play smart can win games. I think the creation of super teams will be the downfall of the league. I don’t think all superstars have the capability of not being the #1 guy on their team and this will create problems for a lot of teams. Just look back on Shaq and Kobe. Sure they won championships, but things ended badly.

  10. nnvirani Says:

    Last year when LeBron James decided to join the Miami heat last year, he had one thing in mind, to win a championship. He went to the team that would give him the biggest chance of coming away with a ring, something he could not to do with the Cleveland Cavaliers. If money was on his mine, he could have easily went to the New York Knicks and become an instant billionaire. In a capitalist system like America, people strive to make as much money as they can because that is the ultimate reward. It is illegal for the government to interfere with how much money can be made by an individual or organization. David Stern’s actions in stopping a player from winning as many championships as he can, which is the equivalent to a working man earning money in our economy, is like government intervention. What makes things worse about this situation is the Lebron-Wade-Bosh is very arguably a more talented dynamic than just the two Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul. Although the NBA is not required to follow the same guidelines as the American government, it is not fair for Stern to let one player make a super team and leave the rest of the superstars to be heroes alone. He has taken on too much power and should be removed or have it be made clear that he cannot favor one side and not another. It is important to note that rules about making super teams can never be established, it will always be left up to the organization to decide if it is a fair trade. But at what point can this be taken too far? Stern did not handle the situation correctly and now he can no longer be the complete authoritarian of the NBA he wants to be. Hobbes says a leader should be taken out of power only if he tries to kill people. If we were to twist and turn this to apply it to the NBA, that would be equivalent to kicking people out of the league. Stern is not doing this but I still think he should be replaced.

  11. jrphilli Says:

    I do believe that Stern has lost control of the NBA, but he is attempting to get it back on track, if possible. If you compare this NBA to past NBA, they did not have any of this going on. I agree with the stopping of the super team, because this limits competiton, this limits excitement for the games. Players are attempting to control the NBA, by dictating where they want to go, that is not how this works. If we let this happen, everybody either gone want to be on the same few teams, and then those teams are not going to be able to afford all of those players, so they all can not go to only a few teams. Also, other teams will lose out on revenue, if there star player are going to other teams, the less popular teams will not have any excitement for them team.

    Stern has let the players and owners do what they want, but the recent stopping of the Chris Paul trade, was a good step. But, seeing as how the Lakers just sent Odom to Dallas, that leaves them with a spot open, potential for Dwight Howard. So, what is happening here is another super team trying to be formed. Pretty soon, hopefully never, the Lakers, Heats, Celtics, Knicks, and Bulls are going to be the super teams of the NBA. Now, how fair is that, not very. Stern is trying to act as dictator, but it does look like the players and owners are the dictators, with Stern having a say-so every now and then.

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