Professional sports leagues such as the NFL, MLB and the NBA are build around one main word: competition. The reason people get behind a team and enjoy watching a game so much is due to the competition between two teams in a battle to decide who is the best. Now every league is going to have teams that you know are going to be fairly poor, and others that will contend. But overall, most games are supposed to be competitive.
And that brings us to the latest bombshell to hit from this wild NBA free agency period. Kevin Durant, arguably one of the top three players in the National Basketball Association, has signed with the Golden State Warriors. Now Golden State fans must be absolutely thrilled by this news. This past season they had arguably the best team in the Association. They demolished the regular season and went on to be the champs of the competitive Western Conference. They reason you cannot say they were hands down the best team is the fact that they lost to Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
But still, there was no denying the Warriors were loaded before free agency started. They have Steph Curry, hands down the best shooter in the NBA, and considered by most a top three player as well. They also have Klay Thompson, another sharpshooter who is absolute money when it comes to putting the ball in the hoop. And do not forget Draymond Green, the guy everyone discounted coming out of Michigan State a few years back, who has proven all of his doubters wrong. The list goes on and on with names like Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala just to name a few.
The point is, the team is loaded. And another trip to the playoffs was pretty much a given. Add in another trip to the finals at pretty good odds as well, with a championship not too far behind. Now we throw Durant, a guy I have been a huge fan of ever since he played at Texas. We now have two of the top three players in the league playing for the same team.
This gives the Warriors so much talent it is not even fair. The West is seen as a superior conference when compared to the East, but now the Warriors stand head and shoulders above the rest. The aging Spurs are not likely to be able to slow down Curry, Durant and Thompson all in the same night, even with their top of the line defense. The Thunder lose Durant, so even with Westbrook there is no way they can really take down the Warriors, considering they could not do it with Durant. Teams like the Clippers, Blazers and Mavs all made the playoffs last season, but stood nowhere close to a Durant-less Golden State squad.
So the West has essentially become like the East from this past season; a one team field barring a collapse (more on that in a few). In other sports, teams can work their way to the top even without the best talent. The San Francisco Giants have done it several time in MLB. But the NBA is different. Talent wins games, period. There is a reason the East was viewed as a one team conference this season. There was simply no way a team could take down Lebron (best player in the league), who could carry a team of nobodies to a championship, when he was paired with talents like Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, among others.
That theory of it being a one team conference was proven as Lebron and company took the one seed, the East title and the NBA Championship. The West, which despite having the Warriors, who were seen as the best team in the NBA, was still seen as an ultra competitive conference since there were so many good teams. But now it does not matter. There is no topping the talent of Curry-Durant-Thompson. It is a one team conference, just like the East. The Cavs and Warriors are both going to be odds on favorites to win their conferences.
And all this does is decreases the intrigue in the league. Why should I even bother turning on the games if I know the Warriors are simply going to dominate game in and game out. If Durant returned to Oklahoma City, he would still be with Westbrook and the Thunder would have a solid chance of taking down Curry and his crew. They came so close last season, we know it could have happened. But now we do not get to see that rematch.
Or if Durant went out East and joined the Celtics. Sure the West would have lost a huge piece, but the East would have benefited big time. Durant paired with Horford and the crew the Celtics have assembled would have made for a truly fun team in Beantown. Sure they still probably would not be at Lebron and Cleveland level, but they could have become next years version of this years Thunder. The team that could threaten to knock off the big fish in the playoffs.
But now we are stuck with the Cavs sitting there on top with limited competition. And the Warriors holding two of the top three players in the whole league. The fun has been taken away. There are only two teams that seem to matter now, and the NBA is worse off because of it. I do not want to watch a 30 point blow out. I want a back and forth, edge of your seat finish to any game I watch.
Of course, we could also now have too many cooks in the Golden State kitchen. With tons of premier scorers on the team, will there be enough pieces of the pie to go around? Or will there be an implosion like there sometimes is when a super team is formed? Sure this could lead to more interesting games, but the NBA cannot possibly like this outcome either. Having one of their premier teams go down in flames due to guys not getting along is never good for a league. I am not saying this will happen, but just that it is a possibility that cannot be forgotten.
But at the end of the day the NBA loses. They now have a super team, and that takes out all of the fun. The level of competition will not be the same. The intrigue for the casual fan will decrease in any given game when the Warriors are up by 25 at the half. Why even bother watching the rest of the game when you know all three of their top scorers are not going to go cold at once. And all they need on any given night is one guy to be on point to be in a game.
So Durant is a Warrior. A good day for the Golden State and their fans. A bad day for the NBA and everyone else.