When Charles Barkley proclaimed in an interview with the New York Daily News that he was rooting against the Nets in their pursuit of the 2021 NBA Championship, there were perhaps many reasonable justifications for this preference.
James Harden’s push to get out of Houston was, to say the least, inelegant.
Kyrie Irving has lost more than a few admirers in her puzzling journey from the clever character of Uncle Drew to the edge of the Flat Earth.
Barkley, however, is hampered by the Nets and Kevin Durant assembling these two in the last NBA Super Team.
“I’m rooted against all the great teams,” said Barkley. “I am from the old school.”
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Is he old-school enough to have cheered on the original Super Team?
Because it didn’t start with LeBron James taking his talents to South Beach to help Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh carry the Miami Heat to four straight NBA Finals. The NBA “Super Team” era didn’t start with guys who grew up doing the Mikan Drill.
It started with George Mikan himself and the Hall of Fame surrounding him the Minneapolis Lakers, Jim Pollard and Vern Mikkelsen, as they won five titles from 1949 to 1956. He continued through Bill’s Celtics. Russell, the Clyde Frazier Knicks and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s team with Oscar Robertson in 1971. It peaked in the 1980s, with the Lakers-Celtics rivalry that was Hall of Famers laden and soared through the the following decade with the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and, ultimately, Dennis Rodman.
There is probably a book in the theory that the only NBA championship ever won by a non-super team came in 2004 with the Pistons’ unlikely triumph over Super Team Shaq-Kobe Lakers.
If you don’t have a Super Team in place, your odds of winning the NBA Championship are now, and always have been, close to zero.
This is one of the reasons the NBA has such a large number of teams that have never won their championship: 36.7%, compared to just 28.1% in the NFL and 20% in the MLB in seasons since the creation of the NBA in 1947.
The difference seems to be in the way the Super Team is built. There’s this notion that it’s somehow nobler for a GM like Red Auerbach or Jerry Krause to mow down opposition in the trades, or for San Antonio to be lucky in the draft (being No. 1 when David Robinson and Tim Duncan were available) or really smart (pick Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili when so many have been successful) – as opposed to players exercising their options as free agents to work where they want.
It’s silly vanity.
Building a championship squad is extremely difficult with any device. Auerbach had to withdraw the trade that brought Robert Parish and No.3 pick Kevin McHale in exchange for No.1 (Joe Barry Carroll) and No.13 (Rickey Brown) picks in the 1980 draft to create the Dynasty of the Celtics who won three titles from 1981 to 1986. Sean Marks had to put together a working roster with three players consuming over 60% of the Nets’ current payroll. There is no shortcut to winning.
If modern NBA players seem “disloyal,” blame yourself for the owners whose fear and greed (but above all fear) led them to create the rookie salary cap in 1995. Instead of being able to secure rookies talented and NBA-ready at their franchises for longer periods of time, owners have opted for younger, less prepared players on short team deals, then acting injured when those same players are just as happy to take a lot of money from a team in a city that may be closer to home or more suited to their ambitions.
Barkley told the Daily News that he was concerned that cities like Houston (after Harden), Oklahoma City (after Durant) and Toronto (after Kawhi Leonard left) had fallen off the NBA map after their stars went down. directed elsewhere.
“I don’t think it’s good for the game. Even though we didn’t win a championship, the Sixers were worth watching when I was there,” Barkley told The Daily News. “The Knicks were worth watching. The Pacers were worth watching when Reggie (Miller) was around. Same with Atlanta and Dominique (Wilkins). So I don’t think it’s good for business. , but these young kids, they all fall back on peer pressure and feeling like they’ve won a championship or their life sucks. “
Aside from the blatantly misleading statement of someone who asked to be traded from the Sixers to the Suns and then joined a budding super team in Houston with Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler – each time without winning a title – there’s the fact that the Nets have never been to watch before Durant, Harden and Irving showed up. And now they are. The Lakers haven’t made the 2014-19 playoffs once, but LeBron James and Anthony Davis teamed up to deliver an NBA championship last season. There are some really good NBA players watchable in places like Portland (Damian Lillard), Denver (MVP Nikola Jokic), Salt Lake City (Donovan Mitchell), and Milwaukee (Giannis Antetokounmpo). The league has never had a period where there weren’t any terrible teams that are best ignored.
Whether located in New Jersey or Brooklyn, the Nets have been one of those teams for much of their NBA history. They’ve won only one playoff series in their first 24 seasons in the league. They’ve won just one playoff series – and 10 playoff games – in their first eight seasons in Brooklyn. They are expected to eclipse those two numbers by the middle of next week.
And if it goes beyond that, to the NBA Finals or the organization’s first championship, it will be just as admirable as any other great season in any other franchise. There is no right or wrong way to win, as long as it follows the rules of the game.