Thanks a lot to the Kentucky Wildcats and the Miami Heat. You killed basketball. So say the Chicken Littles, or more accurately put, the bitter and envious.
I suppose it’s only fitting that the most vilified teams in basketball also won the highest prizes of their respective leagues in the same year. Indeed, both teams stood out as among the best, if not the best, for most of this past season. However, success breeds contempt, and both teams have seen an enormous amount of cynics.
The hate is rooted in the men central to each team, John Calipari and Lebron James. Both left their original teams for the purpose of creating a championship legacy with their current squads. Calipari is decried as a cheater despite no history of NCAA sanctions for major violations. Lebron is branded a traitor for leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers after the expiration of his contract (we still live in a free country).
Critics of both will concede that they are in fact winners but will take issue with the manner in which they win. Whether it be Calipari’s collection of 5 star “one and done” talent or Lebron’s collusion with 2 other NBA superstars to create a “super team,” both men’s critics have gone as far as to effectively charge them with ruining the game of basketball itself.
All the way up to the cutting of the nets in April, Cal’s critics bemoaned that UK’s “8th Wonders” would ruin NCAA basketball if they won it all because it would set off a chain reaction of copycats gorging their rosters “with one and dones” solely to pursue titles. Similarly, Heat Haters have harped since Lebron, Wade, and Bosh joined forces that it would destroy parity in the NBA since a small portion of teams would dominate with superstar 3 man rosters subsequently causing the league to lose viewers. At this point, I’m almost surprised they haven’t accused Calipari, Lebron, and World Wide Wes of conspiring in a dark smoky room.
When you look past the hysteria, what they are effectively saying is that these teams should not be pursuing the best players or trying to create championship dynasties. Isn’t that the WHOLE POINT?
What difference does it make if “one and dones” play on one team or are spread out across 10 teams? At the end of the day they are going pro after their freshmen years. That’s why they’re called “one and dones.” Cal did not invent the “one and done” rule; he just mastered it.
Despite the conventional narrative, this Heat team is not the first super team. Arguably that would belong to the current Boston Celtics squad comprised of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Rajon Rondo. Yet, the Celtics could only win one NBA title but granted they are getting older. Historically, the NBA has never had much parity anyway. In its 60 years of existence, 46 of its championships have been comprised of only 5 teams. Regardless, star power and dominance have historically been good for the league. NBA television ratings were at their highest when Michael Jordan won his 6th title. Ratings for the NBA playoffs have been up this season as well, and you can bet Lebron and company deserve some of the credit.
So basketball fans can rest easy. The sport is going nowhere. Just as the NCAA survived Wooden’s UCLA dynasty and the NBA survived the dominance of Russell’s Celtics, Magic’s Lakers, and Jordan’s Bulls, both organizations will be here long after Cal’s Cats and Lebron’s Heat. The sport is simply evolving as it has since its creation, but for now it belongs to Cal and Lebron. Live with it.
Filed Under: Basketball
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