Ever since the accumulation of the new super team in Golden State, there’s been a lot of talk over the parity of the league. Adam Silver came out this week and announced that he thought the assembling of super teams was bad for the league. Others have pointed to how the salary cap boom “pissed on the small market teams”, (okay, maybe not exactly like that). Regardless, people have posted their think pieces on the matter, pointing to the fact that players should have the freedom and this is good, or how the idea of the parity has never actually been a thing for the NBA. I think about it a different way.
Fans of the league, aren’t really “fans of the league”. They’re fans of a certain team. The guy in Denver is rooting for the Nuggets, the kid in Milwaukee is roots for the Bucks and so on and so forth. Realistically, parity isn’t a problem, because no one cares about parity. Wether Kevin Durant went to Golden State or Oklahoma, fans of the Pelicans would only be worried about Anthony Davis’ development and whether Jrue Holiday can stay healthy. A team that’s clearly rebuilding or even on the upswing has fans who are conscious enough to understand that and re-position their expectations. The beautiful thing about the NBA is no matter how predictable it is, the way things happen still draws interest. The Cavaliers v. Raptors was always going to end with the Cavaliers winning. So much show that a certain news outlet even forgot to add the Raptors name in a “most likely to win the title poll”. Did that stop Raptors fans from getting excited when the team was tied 2-2?
Fans adjust to a team’s predicament, and even when they know the most likely outcome, they still watch the game because how it happens is still unpredictable. If anything, the people who may be most against non-parity, are non-fans, NFL twitter, or people who watch the game without a preference of a team. But are they the same ones buying jersey’s and filling stadiums?
What about the newcomers?
The counter to this argument is, “Well that’s just fans, how about novice observers that are taking the game in for the first time?” I would say that the less parity the better in this case. People love sports because sports are entertaining. Having clear antagonists and protagonists makes for great entertainment. Floyd Mayweather is one of the most hated men in America, but his fights draw in ridiculous revenue because people really want to see him get knocked out, and others love to root for the villain just to contradict the general consensus. In this case we’ll have the super team from California going up against the aging accomplished superstar from Akron. The good guy trying to win one for his small-time city vs. the super team from the Silicon valley. Imagine what ESPN is going to do with that. Fans watch it because they enjoy watching the game of basketball, newcomers watch it because it has a Goliath vs. Goliath 2.0 feel, and the NBA wins regardless.
Adam Silver knows this. He can’t say something like that though, because there’s a good share of owners who have a problem with the idea of super teams. In the next CBA negotiations, chances are rules will be put in place to make something like this unlikely to happen. That’s fine, maybe four stars is too much, but it won’t stop the best guys from picking the best basketball situation. The Warriors had to shed four guys that were part of their core, and had to make three perfect picks outside of the top 5 for this to even be possible.
This is more of an anomaly than a new trend. The best thing any fan can do now is sit back and enjoy the show while it lasts. We live in a world where a 7 footer shooting two steps inside the halfcourt line will be normal. Lebron James, who is still the best player in the world, will go into this season as an underdog. Now matter how clear-cut the pecking order in the league is, the drama itself will draw people in no matter what.
Don’t be that guy whining about parity.