Big Three

The Big Three Concept Is Overrated

I’m tired of “Big 3′s”. Not just the concept, but also the term. Making it part of our basketball vernacular has created an environment where it’s become completely acceptable and normal for three superstars from different cities to create and force situations that result in teaming up and playing together… something which would have never happened in your father’s NBA.

Yes, the Big Three concept is overrated. Let me take a step back though, and analyze the concept itself. We’re sold on the fact that it’s three “superstars”, but it never really is. There’s probably only about 10 “superstars” in the entire league, but exaggeration has become commonplace (and nowhere more so than in my columns). It’s usually one superstar, one star, and one guy capable of making the bottom of the All-Star roster a few times in his career.

In the modern game, the “Big 3″ that kicked off this whole phenomenon was the 2007-2008 Boston Celtics: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen. They won the title that first year and a new philosophy was shoved down our collective throats. Was this was going to be a dynasty that reckoned back to the days of Bill Russell? Well, they didn’t win more titles – the Lakers did. And then the Lakers did again. And then the Dallas Mavericks did. So what did the analysts do? They scrambled to force the concept of a Big 3 on each winning team.

Kobe, Gasol, and Bynum were a Big 3? Not really – Bynum rarely saw the court. Lamar Odom? We all saw how much he was valued this past offseason. Ron Artest? Nope – he’s just nuts.

Are Dirk, J. Kidd, and Jason Terry a Big 3? No not really. You’re just naming the three best individual players on a good team now.

Another wrench: Rajon Rondo became the best player on the Boston Celtics. Were they a “Big 4″ now? Or did they just have a very good roster?

Either way, the trend was on. By this point of course, Miami acquired LeBron James and Chris Bosh, forming the best Big 3 in the league with incumbent Dwayne Wade. Or so we thought, until they didn’t win the NBA Championship when it was deemed a foregone conclusion.

This year, with Wade out, LeBron James is playing some of the best basketball of his career – the same can’t be said when D. Wade is on the floor. Even Chris Bosh’s best game that I’ve seen in a long time came when both of Miami’s leading men were sidelined. People are finally starting to wonder about the strategy of throwing great individual players together and expecting it to work.

Take a look at the New York Knicks, who have now dropped five in a row – including giving the Milwaukee Bucks their first road win of the season the evening before this writing. They touted Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Chauncey Billups as their “Big 3″. Well, Billups isn’t even on the roster anymore, and the other two are not delivering on team expectations.

The most successful Big 3 in recent NBA history was never really considered a “Big 3″ until the buzzword became hot: the Spurs trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobli. Until then, they were one superstar (Tim Duncan) and a pretty darn good backcourt.

In researching this column, you wouldn’t believe some of the trio’s that were classified as “Big 3′s” – by reputable websites too. Zach Randolph, Mike Conley, and Marc Gasol? Nice trio of players, but a big stretch. LaMarcus Aldridge, Ray Felton, and Brandon Roy? Michael Jordan could come out of retirement to replace Brandon Roy and that wouldn’t be a “Big 3″. Generally speaking, if my girlfriend hasn’t heard of one of the players in your “Big 3″, you’re not a Big 3.

So even though I’m against the term and think the concept is a little flimsy, as far as modern-era “Big 3′s” – I’m only counting K.G., Pierce, Allen Celtics and Miami’s James, Wade, and Bosh, and that’s it. The closest additional Big 3 we have is the gang of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden – but it’s still too early to make that call on Harden.

Big 3′s are bad for the NBA. It’s fine to have one team be the New York Yankees, but once all of the first and second tier talent in the league is consolidated on five or six teams, no one is going to be interested in the other markets. It’s already beginning to happen. A handful of great franchises and 20-something mediocre teams will lead to lack of ticket and merchandise sales, and eventually, contraction. The NBA has to get a hold of this. The Chris Paul trade veto was a desperate reaction to the bigger problem.

I’m not sure what the solution is – there’s already a salary cap in place. But with the smallest roster in all the major sports, it’s easier to manipulate those dollars. Trying to convince the stars to man-up and carry their own team, create their own identity will only work if the Big 3 concept fails. Guys want to win titles, but they want to do it with a shortcut.

That’s part of the selfish nature of today’s NBA players. LeBron wants to be one of the greatest of all time – but he doesn’t want to work for it. He’d rather hitch his wagon to D. Wade, hang out with his boys in South Beach and wait for the rings to pile up. That wouldn’t happen in a true team sport like football – but let’s face it, modern basketball is an individual sport more along the lines of baseball.

Most historical championship teams had A guy, and then another All-Star. Jordan had Pippen, Bird had McHale or Parish or DJ or whoever was hot that year, Magic had Kareem, Russell had Cousey, and so on. But really, these teams were centered by THE guy, who in turn made the next guy much better. In Pippen’s case, it was how hard he saw Jordan work. In the case of everyone who played with Magic, it was how he ran the offense and put the ball in their hands better than anyone else ever did it. In Bird’s case, it was because you could never leave him open. In Russell’s case, it was because you’d better double-team that guy.

We don’t need Big 3′s. We need superstars who become the one face of the franchise, that guy that a young Miami Heat fan pretends he is in his driveway. We need guys who carry their team, who always get the last play drawn up for them. We need men who are accountable, who are proud. We need individuals who raise the bar for everyone around them, and who put entire cities on their backs. We need leaders. We don’t need Big 3′s.

Related posts:

  1. 2012: Year of Kevin Durant?
  2. Should Lebron James Be Considered A Legend?

Discussion

80 Responses to “The Big Three Concept Is Overrated”

  1. Tony, did you just put this together in 10 minutes? Your grammar sucks and I can’t really tell what your point is.

    “Big 3s are bad for the NBA. It’s fine to have one team be the New York Yankees”

    It sounds like you are rambling at times, with the flow of a freshman high school student.

    Are you really saying that a team should NOT go for a Big Three if they have an opportunity?

    Also, since when did Lebron James not want to “work” for a championship? The guy was MVP runner up last year and a averaged 25-7-7 and carried the Heat through the first 3 rounds of the playoffs. Maybe you can criticize his “decision” and theatrics, but no one has ever questioned his work ethic.

    Dumbest article ever and I would expect more quality from a Chasing 23 writer.

    Posted by Chauncey Gandus | January 24, 2012, 9:22 am
    • Well said.

      I don’t think Big 3′s are overrated. If the writer opted to go in depth and compare “well balanced” big 3′s to others he would find that they were mostly successful or took it all the way.

      The writer left out an important aspect out of the big 3 concept and that is: that the ones he mentioned such as Kareem+Magic were actually statistically no different than the so-called big 3′s of today, as a reference to support the logic. If it lacks anything it’s historically empirical evidence to help his argument. James Worthy by today’s standards would be considered a monumental part of a big 3 considering his stats, not much different than Chris Bosh on the Heat or Andrew Bynum on the Lakers.

      If the writer wanted to suggest that well constructed big 3′s of trios who compliment each other are likelier to succeed when put together at a younger age or part of their career, then he would have a point to make. And none of the teams he mentioned fulfill these criteria.

      Posted by DODOO | February 2, 2012, 1:28 pm
      • The difference with the Showtime Lakers is that both Magic and Worthy were DRAFTED not brought into the mix via trade or free agent signing.

        On a side note, have you ever considered what happens to Worthy if the Lakers draft Dominique Wilkens instead of Worthy?

        Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 2, 2012, 3:59 pm
  2. I think that his point is that you don’t need a Big-three to win and Big-threes don’t always mean rings. I agree though, this could have been better written.

    Posted by James Beach | January 24, 2012, 9:43 am
  3. Hey Chauncey, thanks for reading. Next time, don’t.

    If you have an issue with grammar, talk to my editor.

    If you have an issue with my viewpoint, I encourage debate.

    If you cannot ascertain points from my article, I’d be happy to explain them.

    If you want to be a prick, just keep being yourself.

    Posted by TonyMaglio | January 24, 2012, 10:47 am
  4. Tony, Interesting topic and I agree. Big threes, even if they were big threes for another team, never maintain that Alpha Dog level of play when paired with other Alpha Dogs. Usually, their is a hierarchy of some kind and they are more marketing than anything else.

    Posted by The NBA Realist | January 24, 2012, 11:24 am
  5. Leave Lebron alone. Hes far from lazy or untalented. Look what he had around him in Cleveland and you tell me that you would have stayed in that situation with a(we know now) crazy owner? The fact that Lebron carried the Cavs to great records year after year should be a praised. Boston won it in their first year because they had 3 guys still good enough to be great together, 3 guys who wanted a ring more then anything and were willing to put aside stats and everything else to do it, and they won it because of their defense most of all.

    Miami is following a similer model, and yes they fell 2 games short last year, so what? Every other team but Dallas(including the much vaunted and talked about Chicago team) would have loved to be 2 wins away from an NBA title.

    And I will say this again, more then Lebron pulling a vanishing act(he played ok but not great, Wade’s play balanced it out though), was the failure of Miami’s defense. They repeatly blew big leads and allowed Dallas to hang around when they should have been putting the series away(see game 2), THAT is what cost them the series.

    But ask Chicago or your team(and you call yourself a Boston fan!)about how Lebron coasted, he coasted right through the first 3 rounds of the playoffs.

    I would say he was alpha dog enough to help close out Boston in 5 games last season. Which was really your last shot at anything. Boston is going nowhere this season, too old, no center, joke bench. Rondo is getting exposed for the shooting scrub that he is.

    As for NY…well in order to be any good you have to play defense, and look at their coach, of course they don’t play defense with him coaching. The suns never played defense either. I think if NY hadn’t given up so more for Melo and if they had managed to snag CP somehow, and if they got a real coach they might be pretty decent.

    Was a good read otherwise. We will see though how the Miami big 3 ends up turning out. Boston did pretty good I think. Btw the players you mentioned are pretty much all hall of famers, Pippen is one of the 50 best players of all time and one of the best(if not the best) defender of all time. Not exactly just another “star” I would say.

    And the Boston teams were loaded with hall of famers, back when it was really a two team league…but you would be hard pressed to find an older Boston fan that didn’t think that was somme of the best basketball every played. Always seems to be when your teams are winning.

    Posted by nightbladehunter | January 24, 2012, 8:57 pm
  6. My first reaction to Anthony going to NY to team with Stodoumaire was, “Who is going to play defense on that team?”

    Other Big 3′s (using what I think is the author’s criteria)

    Baylor, Wilt and West
    Barkley, Olajuwan and Drexler (though Barkley got injured)

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 24, 2012, 10:34 pm
  7. This piece is a bit of a letdown given that chasing23 is supposedly geared towards using stats and objectivity to drive a point. What allowed you to label some as Big 3 and not the others? I’m not saying that all those so-called Big 3′s deserve the label but I wouldn’t also hastily dismiss them as not, without devising a fairly objective way to define what a Big 3 should be.

    Posted by Jourdan | January 25, 2012, 4:49 am
  8. NightBlade – I’m a Celtics fan?? I hate the Celtics, I’m a NJ Nets fan. If you want to make fun of me for fanship, it’s right there for you on a platter!

    Jourdan – Sorry you felt let down, it was an editorial piece discussing how as a fan I’m sick of the concept and the term. I didn’t feel the need to be stat heavy in an op. ed. I labeled them based on public perception and popular basketball opinion.

    Posted by Tony Maglio | January 25, 2012, 5:43 am
  9. tony,
    love the article and concept. it really drives home the point of who is the alpha dog and who is are role players. mj, russell, magic and maybe even kobe would never be okay without having the ball in their hand at the end of the game. when players like bosh decide they dont want to be the alpha dog on a .500 team and would rather be the 3rd option and never doubled so they can have it easier, the league becomes weaker.
    i would go so far as to say this is a byproduct of aau basketball…take all the good players from an area, put them on a team at a young age and they never lose. they never learn how to win and become leaders because it comes easy…and when they make it to the nba and they arent on a aau caliber type team, they create one themselves.
    i think its different when players at the end of their career do this (malone and payton in 2003-04) because like you said, they aren’t BIG anymore, just above average.

    As far as a statistical definition for big 3, who cares…its a media term.

    Posted by Anti Bill Simmons | January 25, 2012, 6:31 am
    • Wow, when does having a Big 3 equate to not having an alpha dog leading the pack? Even with championship teams led by Big 3s, there never were any doubts that the pecking order was there.

      And enough of the aau bs. It’s pretty simple and natural: winners attract winners. Kobe wanted to get traded when he was playing with 4 losers. Ask Jordan…would he rather play with his Wizards than with Pippen and his Bulls? It’s a bit of sourgraping when fans of opposing teams would argue against teams who found a way to get superstars to sacrifice money just to play and win together.

      And who cares abt definitions? Err, try the readers of this website? To rely on media to define a Big 3 and then ridicule them for calling Kobe clutch is just double-talk. Nuts.

      Posted by Jourdan | January 26, 2012, 5:00 am
      • if you like media terms that make no sense i have to imagine you are a big fan of bill walton…
        all i was agreeing with is the notion that taking the top three players on a team and calling them a big three to create a buzz around the team is a media driven activity.
        when it comes to real basketball, you cant have three superstars just thrown together and expect them to win, especially with a lineup of nobody’s.
        the difference between the mavs and the heat last year was the heat had three great individual players and a bunch of crap and the mavs had a superstar in dirk, 2 all star caliber players and 5 or 6 solid role players. in a testament to how good those role players did their job, barea, chandler and butler (even though he didnt play after january) were signed to some crazy contracts during the off-season.
        as for the heat, the recent play of bosh and lebron make you wonder how it is that they play better when its two of them instead of three…could it be that a big two and better role players would be a better team? what if they axed one of them and actually had a center?
        and as for your question about definitions, terms like clutch and big 3 will never have clear definitions but instead a sliding scale…is kobe clutch, probably…is he more clutch and lebron, probably not…

        Posted by Anti Bill Simmons | January 26, 2012, 7:24 am
        • Wow, heavy accusations. First, reread my post and tell me where did I even insinuate that I’m a media ass-kissing guy? In fact, I hate going by anything the media says bec most of them are stiffs who haven’t played competitive bball. Translation: I am skeptical of them…unlike you who seemingly selective ‘does not care’ abt what they say when it’s comfortable.

          Would that Mavs team repeat as champs? No. Last yr was a Cinderella year. Every once and while, you get a good but no so great team sneaked in as champs. Everything clicked for the Mavs last yr. Dirk was finally sufficiently healthy, role players stepped up at crucial moments, and the NBA was experiencing a transition – new but flawed superteam in Miami, ageing powerhouses, blockbuster mid-season team shake-ups, and few very good but inexperienced up-and-coming teams. Heck, Cuban knew that his Mavs won’t repeat and he actually broke up his championship team. Don’t tell me smarty pants that you know better than a guy who made millions playing in the stock market, a guy who probably has several quants working for him 24/7. The truth is, setting aside your sentimentalist fondness for anecdotes, dynasties of the modern era were superteams…teams with multiple superstars/ All Stars. And the more star-power they have, the greater their success, i.e., the more dominant champions they become. You want facts? Research on Bird’s Celtics, Magic’s Lakers, Isiah’s Bad Boy Pistons, Jordan’s Bulls, Shaq’s Lakers, Kobe’s Lakers, Tim’s Spurs. How many All-Stars/HOFs did each of these teams have? Geesh, talk abt mindless hating of the Heatles. The formula for success was evident: more stars, more rings. There will always be exceptions like Olajuwon’s Rockets ad Dirk’s Mavs. But that’s it – these are exceptions. Why settle for 2 when you can have more?

          And yes, superstar coach + superstars = rings, actually many rings, lyk at least 2 rings. Ask Phil, Riley, Popovich, and Chuck Daly. Bball is not football. As important as the team concept is, talent win games. The more a team has it, the more chances that they’d win and win again.

          Posted by Jourdan | January 26, 2012, 1:17 pm
        • And oh, abt the insinuation that Miami looks better with 2 instead of 3 superstars, this screams ignorance to me. Miami is better with 2 superstars and 3 supporting cast than 3 superstars but with a hobbled, ineffective, injured superstar. D Wade, as good as he is, becomes a liability with a bad foot. That problem is magnified bec the less than healthy Wade needed touches, which would come at the expense of the more effective Lebron or Bosh. Thus, an injured Wade adversely affects spacing, ball movement, and effective shot distribution. It them becomes sensible to sit him down and replace with a reserve that would simply play off the two remaining superstars. But to say that Lebron and Bosh plus 3 role players would trump a healthy Heatles 3 plus 2 role players is going against any known stats. I reiterate…Miami needs better coaching. The team, as flawed as it is, is good enough to win it all. What’s your hint? Look at other superstars who are trying desperately to form their own super friends.

          Posted by Jourdan | January 26, 2012, 3:22 pm
  10. Tony, great post. I enjoyed the read, and I see your point about the “big 3″ term being overused – in some cases, it does have that flavor of the month feel to it.

    However, I’ll confess that I kind of like the idea of superteams. Part of me wants to see another team win 70+ in a season and become a great dynasty. Furthermore, I don’t completely buy into the notion that every great player on an average team should stay there out of some sense of duty if the opportunity to play for a better team that’s closer to a championship presents itself. There’s a line of course (i.e. it looks as if Melo and Stoudemire might’ve actually worsened their chances of winning the big one), but if players play out their contract and become free agents, then it’s their right to go elsewhere. I’m not a huge Lebron fan (or Wade fan for that matter, though they’re both GREAT players), but I believe that winning was a major factor in his “decision,” and I respect that. What leaves me shaking my head is when I see guys leave one team for another that’s worse, and for what? More money and a bigger market. I hope that D-Howard doesn’t make this mistake.

    Ultimately, as last year shows us, great teamplay often trumps great collections of talent that don’t quite gel. Yes, Melo left the Nuggets to join a “superteam” in New York, but look at what the Nuggets have since become. They’ve looked a heck of alot closer to winning it all than the Knicks have since that trade went down. What about the emergence of other teams like OKC and Chicago? Perhaps they lack the starpower of Miami to a small extent, but they both look capable of knocking the boys of South Beach down a few pegs because of each team’s cohesiveness. Before it’s all said and done, this era of “big 3′s” and superteams might actually help the NBA because it reinforces the point that, in a team sport, great talent rarely wins if it doesn’t mesh.

    Posted by Brandon Crockett | January 25, 2012, 9:30 am
    • Chicago will go deep in the playoffs but won’t win it all with just one superstar pt guard. No team led by a perimeter player with an ave mid-range game and surrounded by mediocre talent had won an NBA championship. As for OKC, its a bit of a stretch to say that Kevin, Russell, and James H. won’t qualify as a 3-headed monster. What are these guys’ PERs compared to other teams’ top 3 guys? Would they then be considered Big 3 after OKC wins a championship? This is my problem with subjective labeling of Big 3. It renders the term meaningless.

      Truth is 3 superstars is better than 1 or 2, esp when they want to win it all. You know what Miami lacks? A superstar coach to reign over superstar egos and make wade, james, and bosh accept their roles and play the right way. Right now, Miami is winning games on sheer talent. And to think that they came 2 wins from winning it all speaks volume abt what 3 superstars could bring to the table. Just imagine Phil Jackson coaching Miami, or Pat Riley. Just imagine Miami running the triangle offense on half-court sets and then running like the showtime lakers on transitions. So quit the doomsday bs. If spoelstra couldn’t make this work, somebody will. Then evryone would be welcome to ride the Big 3 bandwagon.

      Posted by Jourdan | January 26, 2012, 7:41 am
      • So let me get this right, your philosophy is to get a bunch of superstars to learn a new system from a HOF coach who is also tasked with keeping their ego’s in check while they are being paid significantly more than he is?
        Putting that aside. “3 stars are better than 1 or 2, esp when they want to win it all”….who doesnt want to win it all? there is a difference between desire and doing what it takes…certain players have shown the ability to do what it takes and others have not.

        With respect to the 2008 celtics, KG and Ray were on teams that weren’t going anywhere. They were traded to a team in the Celtics that had Pierce, Rondo and a group of guys who could fill roles (perkins, davis, tony allen). Also, they didn’t have to learn a new system, Rivers used their skill set to help the team win and that speaks more to his ability that anything else.
        At no point did their desire to win it all change (I am assuming since none of us really know). Ray had been on good teams before as did KG and Pierce…the difference between this “Big 3″ and the Heatles is that they did it at the end of their careers after making several attempts to win on their own.
        Lebron had one trip to the Finals and two other awesome years, Bosh was stuck in NBA hell and Wade already won one ring. I cant blame Bosh for wanting to join a better situation but my beef with Lebron is that he could have joined an other team which would have been his team, closer to winning it all and made more money (Chicago). He chose to not be the alpha dog, hang with his friends because thats what he has done since he was labeled King James as a teenager and take his talents to south beach.
        We all know he is the most gifted athelte in the game, but the reason so many people root for him to fail is that when someone has that much talent bestowed upon them, much is expected and he seems content yucking it up with his buddies…keep in mind this is the same guy who suggested this Big 3 would win not 5, not 6 but 7 rings…he should have probably went to college and learned to get to 7 you have to start with 1.

        Posted by Anti Bill Simmons | January 26, 2012, 9:04 am
        • Wow, what made you so sure that Lebron would win it all in Chicago? Again, this is mindless supposition based on nothing! Wade is a champ, D Rose isn’t. Bosh is better than Boozer or Noah. So even on that basis, what made Chicago the clear cut winner? It’s a dime a dozen to speculate, but that’s just it…speculate.

          Your mindless defense of Celtics 3 just to rationalize your irrational beef with Lebron is funny. They ALL chose to be with their superfriends. Did KG and Ray Allen just happen to fall on the laps of D Ainge? And pls, you’re just near the looney bin to say that the Celtics didn’t change their Playbook when the Big 3 arrived. Have you checked the set plays before and after the Big 3 was formed? With KG and Ray, the Celtics ran less isos for Pierce and also changed their defensive schemes. Doc Rivers adjusted with what he had. As a side topic, Doc is one of the best when it comes to in-game coaching. If he could tweak plays and matchup during the game, what then made you believe that he didn’t alter his playbook when the Big 3 arrived? This actually supports my point that the Heat needs a better coach. Spoelstra couldn’t figure out how to get the most out of his Heatles. He just couldn’t find the right system to enhance their strengths and hide their flaws.

          Posted by Jourdan | January 26, 2012, 3:42 pm
      • While I agree that Chicago’s having one superstar point guard alone won’t get them over the top, perhaps the addition of Rip Hamilton (someone who’ll fufill his defensive assignment properly and take some of the offensive burdens off of Rose’s shoulders), a healthy lineup, and the championship-caliber defense they play as a whole will do the trick.

        With regards to your point about the “three-headed monster” in OKC, I’d say your pretty spot-on in your assessment of their big combined talent as a trio – but I did say that teams like OKC and Chicago might’ve lacked the starpower of Miami’s ballclub to a SMALL extent. I’m not suggesting that there’s a big talent gap there, and perhaps there isn’t much of one at all. Still, what has me sold on the Thunder and the Bulls is each team’s willingness to play together. Each club seems to have established leaders and go-to guys, of course, but I’m convinced that winning counts above pretty much all else – even numbers and individual notariety.

        As for your poinnt about Phil Jackson and Pat Riley, I believe that those men truly became superstar coaches when they successfully convinced their superstar players to trust their teammates and play team basketball. That’s the point I’m making: superstar talent is, of course, helpful – but a “big 3″ can be a big failure if you never get them to gel and play to each other’s strengths when it matters most.

        Posted by Brandon Crockett | January 26, 2012, 1:16 pm
        • I don’t quite get it when you say OKC, with its trio, is as close to what Miami has and yet the former is ‘better’ bec they have an established pecking order while the latter has none. Err, tell that to Westbrook. This, however, is irrelevant. What is evident is that OKC has a good chance of winning the championship bec it has 3 established guys who would consistently bring home the bacon. In short, the trio concept actually works. Sure, kinks and wrinkles and holes would be there. But those are easier to solve than lack of talent. You could overachieved with less talent like what Houston and Portland have been doing, but those are just enough to get you to the playoffs. In the playoffs, the general trend is that talent wins over team chemistry and good coaching, e.g., Miami over Philadelphia.

          If you’re still not convinced abt superstar power, just think abt these: Dream Team beat the crap out of evry national teams that they played despite less practice time together. After that, the Olympic teams of NBA second or third-tier talents lost to teams with almost the same dynamics as the previous ones – well-coached, good team chemistry, good system. The US then assembled a super team of top NBA talents. What happened? bronze. Why? People say bec they didn’t have a system. Enter Mike the coach. What happened? Bronze. Again. What now? Well, add more talent. And Kobe. What happened? Gold. You see, that’s your recipe for success: having a system brings you closer to winning it all. But to actually win it, you have to load up on talent. Heck, even a super-talented team needed another helluva superstar to bring home the bacon. I feel for losers who would love a world where losers and mediocres have a decent shot to win…with chemistry, teamwork, and ‘heart’ whatever that means, but the reality is, and as nature built everything, the strongest wins it most of the time. Just cheer for the occasional hiccups, but pls…it’s a stretch to deny this simple fact.

          Posted by Jourdan | January 26, 2012, 6:10 pm
          • “I don’t quite get it when you say OKC, with its trio, is as close to what Miami has and yet the former is ‘better’ bec they have an established pecking order while the latter has none.”

            That’s not my argument. Yes, I said that OKC appears to have an established leader in Durant (Westbrook might’ve had his issues with this last season, but, given the great start the Thunder are on this season, I believe he’s turning the corner), but I’m arguing that the BIGGEST key to OKC’s success is their cohesiveness as a unit. They’re playing to win: if Durant drops 36, that’s fine; if he drops 20 but grabs 15 rebounds, that’s fine to. What’s most important is securing the victory. IMO, such is the case with Chicago. If Miami ends up surpassing these two teams, it won’t solely be because they have ‘Bron, Wade, and Bosh on their roster. If those three and the other Heat players take their talent for granted down the stretch this year as they appeared to do in last year’s Finals, the results could be the same or worse. Talent without chemistry, especially when compared to teams who are almost as talented but are decidedly more in-sync with each other, doesn’t measure up.

            You’re welcome to scoff at chemistry and teamwork if you like, but understand that these are some of the most important concepts upon which your superstar-laden teams built their postseason success. MJ’s Bulls, Magic’s Lakers, and Bird’s Celtics were very talented teams from the moment that they were assembled – but I’ll argue that they weren’t champions until they learned to rely on each other to some extent. Yes, these teams had stars who would frequently take games over late in close contests. However, to have done that throughout the game with no consideration for the involvement of their teammates would’ve been futile.

            Superstar talent is just one part of the equation. I’m not denying that the Dream Team was EXTREMELY talented. Will you then argue that, because of “limited practice time”, the all-time great players on that team forgot what teamwork was? Heck, even if they had and their victory was due entirely to their being that much better than everyone else in the tournament, you’re talking about international basketball teams. No offense to those ball clubs, but the NBA is a different animal. I defy you to show me a majority – or even something CLOSE to a majority – of teams in the history of the NBA that won a championship relying ONLY on superstar talent. Keep in mind that, when I speak of chemistry, I’m not concerned with what went on behind the scenes so long as it didn’t affect ON-COURT play – so please don’t give me that “Kobe and Shaq didn’t like each other, but they still won” argument. Superstars winning rings in the absence of teamwork? I’m sorry, but that’s not a fact: that’s one-sided, false analysis.

            Posted by Brandon Crockett | January 26, 2012, 9:00 pm
          • @ Brandon Crockett

            Let me quote you “…Each club (OKC and Bulls) seems to have established leaders and go-to guys..”

            Well, Miami has go-to guys..actually 2 or even 3 go-to guys. What they lack are “go-to-plays” to close out close games.

            And you’re missing my point. I am not saying team chemistry is not important. The issue at hand is the assertion that having a “Big 3″ is overrated, to which my counter-point has been that dominant championship teams always have multiple superstars. Going by this historical FACT, having 3 superstars is a good formula to win it all. But I never said you don’t need teamwork. The thing is, I’m making a point abt their relative importance. In my book, talent first, good system second.

            Why? It’s pretty simple: The very best players generally have high basketball IQs to go with their ridiculous skills…and their talents are likely to have made them winners early in their lives. To me, superstars are your perfect foundation for a great team. And looking at how bball dynasties came about, it’s pretty consistent: A superstar understood and embraced the team concept better when ‘sharing the ball’ actually leads to W’s. And how would you get those wins consistently? By bringing another good player to play alongside him. You know what convince Kobe to play within a “team concept”? Gasol. How abt MJ? Pippen. And once you have that winning culture, other winners naturally are enticed to join, even at a discount. The curious thing abt winning is that it rubs off to lesser mortals. Just look at the 90′s Bulls shock troopers – Brown, Williams, Wennington, Kerr. These guys became better bec they play alongside the best players. Tell me, have they been as good as they were when they played for other teams after their Bulls’ winning days? Hardly.

            Now when you can short-circuit the whole process by having 3 superstars who are willing enough to play for a lot less, then why would you not grab that? To do otherwise is plainly insane. And oh, I bet you Norris Cole isn’t complaining abt playing alongside the Heatles. He’d be good, just as how Rondo became good.

            The fact is that team chemistry is overrated. Team chemistry cannot be fabricated out of nothing. “Ubuntu” only works when the Celtics is winning. It’s nothing but just a word when they’re losing. Team chemistry develops out of winning, and then it kick starts the process of winning more. Nothing will get you in the Win column easier than having superstars.

            Sure, NYC is failing. But that’s not bec. they’ve loaded their team with superstars. It’s bec they released Billups. Anyone who knows Amare’s game would know that he’s no good without a decent PG. And yeah, Miami has “failed” last year but that’s hardly the end of Miami. Jordan’s Bulls had changed coach so maybe Miami needs to do the same.

            In the end, this is what I’m saying: The path to success in NBA goes through superstars…and the path to consistently succeed is having multiple superstars. Miami has a chance to win it all. Andre Igoudala and his Philly team has not.

            Posted by Jourdan | January 27, 2012, 1:56 am
  11. Hi Tony,
    If you’re going by how fans would subjectively label guys as Big 3s, then as a fan, I would refute you easily by saying that having a Big 3, as I would define it as a fan and would for sure share this with others as well, is not overrated. Going by that subjectivity, I’d call Jordan, Pippen, and Rodman as a Big 3. The Bulls couldn’t have achieved the second 3-peat without Rodman. And I don’t think anyone would take the 90′s as not in the ‘modern era’. Even Spurs trio to me qualifies as a Big 3…take one out and the Spurs dominance the last decade is in jeopardy. Once it turns subjective, then all arguments against a ‘Big 3′ being key to a dominant run turn south.

    Posted by Jourdan | January 25, 2012, 10:44 pm
    • Jourdan – Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili definitely do NOT qualify as part of a Big 3. Tim Duncan is the greatest power forward of all time. Parker and Ginobili were nice, replaceable parts (less so with Ginobili, but you get the point).

      With respect to Rodman, I somewhat agree, though by the Bulls’ last championship, his skills had greatly deteriorated.

      Posted by lemonadestand | January 25, 2012, 11:18 pm
  12. @ lemonadestand,

    Well, that’s your take on the Spurs “Big 3″, which btw only validates the problem with not having a less arbitrary definition of a Big 3. You say Parker and Ginobili are replaceable yet that cannot be supported by anything other than suppositions after suppositions. Fact of the matter is that the Spurs did not win it all when one’s poorly playing. Now, to say replacing that with another and then concluding that it would work magic simply bec Tim is the greatest PF is at best inferential, not factual. The thing is without a more objective criteria for a Big 3, the arguments for or against them become a hodgepodge of interesting but whimsical opinions

    Posted by Jourdan | January 26, 2012, 12:50 am
  13. Jourdan, allow me to quote myself: “…What has me sold on the Thunder and the Bulls is each team’s willingness to play together. Each club seems to have established leaders and go-to guys, of course, but I’m convinced that winning counts above pretty much all else – even numbers and individual notariety.”

    I think it’s clear that, when you read the quote in its full context, I’m not arguing how OKC or Chicago might be better than Miami because both teams have an “established pecking order” and Miami doesn’t – I’m saying that they could be better because of their willingness to play TEAM BALL and put winning above everything else, including individual fame and glory. Having an understanding of what guys’ roles are is just ONE aspect of team ball, not the whole of it. If Miami follows suit (and they do seem to have improved in that area this season), then they stand a great chance to win it all.

    I’ll continue to argue that having a big 3, while helpful, is not a good formula in and of itself. It becomes good (and possibly great) if you can get the big 3 to buy into the idea of wins and the team mattering more than individual stats. If you can get 3 of the best individual talents the league has to offer on one team, but each man plays in a selfish manner, then what good can come of it? Yes, you’ve acknowledged that teamwork and chemistry is important, but I’d still say that you’re understating it. The notion of teams having or not having superstars is subject to opinion – it could be that some lower-tier superstars from championship teams were dubbed as being such because their game benefitted well from the system that they played in. If this is true, then the argument for superstars being more important to a championship run than a system loses steam. Arguments have been made for the absence of bona fide superstars on championship teams (i.e. the ’04 Pistons and the ’79 Sonics). This, to, is subject to opinion, but there’s enough evidence in both cases to at least spark serious discussion. On the other hand, I’ve yet to see a seriously-considered argument made for a team that supposedly won it all, or will win it all, without teamwork. My point here is that you and I differ in what we think an organization’s priorities in its hunt for a championship should be: You say that superstar talent should be sought out prior to establishing a system, while I say that such a system which puts players in their proper roles, and emphasizes on-court unity and accountability for one’s self and each other all for the sake of the team’s success is more valuable. I think it’s possible for a team stocked with good talent that falls somewhat short of the superstar level to win a championship or several if they buy into a system that stresses balance between guys playing to each other’s strengths AND their own, where appropriate, and maximizing effort. While the “go-to” guys in this scenario would not be bona fide superstars, they could still have definite value.

    When an organization’s sights are set primarily on bringing in superstar talent, and it only later worries about a system, it runs the risk of bringing together a group of highly-talented individuals who don’t mesh well and are unsure (or unaccepting) of their roles. While it’s probably true that MJ became convinced of the value of team play once the front office surrounded him with better talent (i.e. Pippen and Rodman), what if Pippen and Rodman had decided not to buy in? The talent would’ve been there, but could you still guarantee the success? I doubt it. As for the “lesser mortals” you spoke of, what if they had allowed their egos (whether or not they would’ve been justified for having egos is a separate issue) to get in the way of the team’s goals? These players might not have had the talent of an MJ or Pippen, but their presence made a positive difference on those championship teams. Take that way, and you could very well end up rewriting the history books. The same goes for other superstar-laden championship teams: regardless of what it took to get guys like Bird and Magic to buy into the idea of team ball, they still had to buy in. The presence of superstar talent alone wasn’t enough to win championships. 50+ games in the regular season? Maybe. Championships? No. In my mind, teamwork just matters more.

    Posted by Brandon Crockett | January 27, 2012, 2:39 pm
    • I do get the full context, which is at best incoherent. Sorry if you miss the sarcasm. I don’t get how cohesion directly relate to having go-to guys. Thus, I opt to tackle them separately, which I guess you missed. I’d be blunt the next tym so you’d see the sarcasm outright.

      Anyway, since you’re big on this chemistry bs, what is it really? You said ‘understanding roles’ isn’t it. You talk abt team ball like it’s a magic word…care to share what it is exactly? Err, in terms that fairly objective, lyk stats…does that show up as assists per game/possession, score distribution/team?no of used players per game? Tell me, what is it? Is it lyk the magical, Celtic ‘ubuntu’? The one that Phil’s triangle-offense beat with a boatload of Superstars? The one that couldn’t repeat despite no changes to its personnel? Oh yeah, KG got hurt…but wait, that shouldn’t matter, right? Losing a superstar shouldn’t change things since Celtics have their ‘ubuntu’ potion. And what abt last yr? What happened to ‘ubuntu’? Oh, they looked terrible against the Heat, the one yoy said that lacked chemistry.

      Thing is, Facts are on my side. Championship teams, esp the dominant ones who built dynasties have multiple superstars. Sure, there will be exceptions but the argument holds…why couldn’t these supposedly cohesive yet star-less teams fail to repeat? Simple. Bec they don’t have superstars who could confidently sink a bad shot under pressure or make the referees think twice abt not blowing their whistles to hand freebies. Sure, a good system should eliminate bad shots and there shouldn’t be superstar calls. But guess what? The made bad shots in a crucial, pivotal time in the playoffs are the ones that get the crowd going and unnerve the other team. And just ask the Mavs how they feel abt Wade’s FTs in ’06 Finals. Oh, how abt the non-call on MJ’s “push” in his GW shot in ’08? Could team chemistry give you these? You wish!

      If it was true that system goes first, then do you honestly believe that Philly has a chance this yr? How abt Indiana? Or Portland? Heck, you’re nuts to assume that only good teams have good systems. I bet my ass that most teams in the NBA have good systems, good coaches, good programs. No one’s stupid enough to spend millions just to have a team that plays pickup bball. But what differentiates one the other when it comes to winning is the superstars that they have. Philly could have the best system in the world, best team chemistry whatever that means, and it still would not win a championship with its current roster. And despite having the best system, it still won’t attract marquee players unless their front office finds a way to sneak in one bonafide superstar.

      Which brings me back to my point. Talent first, system second. Talent wins games instantly. Look at the Cavs when James got drafted. Now, once you have the talent, you go smart and develop a system that would keep you winning…and then you fish for more talent. And if it doesn’t work with having more talent, examine whether the system is flawed, or you just need to plug holes here and there, or both. The thing is talent is rare and pretty darn expensive. Changing coaches and hiring role players are cheaper than getting superstars. I sympathize with ur romantic notion that team play will trump skills. But that’s more fiction than fact. In the NBA, a boatload of skills + a good dose of team play will give you a better chance to win the championship and continue winning it than a collection of second-tier talent that play the ball ‘the right way’ whatever that means.

      Posted by Jourdan | January 27, 2012, 8:06 pm
      • You either don’t get what I’m saying, or you simply won’t agree with it. If the latter is true, then that’s fine. However, just in case the former is the problem, I’ll try and fix it by repeating myself anyway: cohesion and having go-to guys in tight, crunch-time situations are two aspects of teamwork. Go-to guys are hardly more effective than their teammates allow them to be, if it all. Once a team’s recognizes it most talented player in the clutch, there’s still the matter of his teammates being willing to get the ball to him in those moments – if the other players don’t agree to this and BUCK the system, the go-to guy is more or less rendered useless regardless of his “superstar talent.” When guys buck the system, that’s often a sign of little-to-no team cohesion. That’s how I relate the two concepts.

        Understanding roles is just one part of teamwork/chemistry. There’s still the matter of players ACCEPTING their roles within a system – or will you argue that the presence of superstars on a team makes that issue meaningless? If the “lesser mortals” on a team rebel against a system in which they don’t get as many touches as their superstar teammates, or worse, a system like that isn’t established to begin with, does that not matter simply because of the level of talent in-place? Superstars are nice to have, but other teams usually have gameplans which are partly geared towards stopping them. If there’s no system in place to address this, then how can said superstar be effective? Chances are, he won’t be.

        As for your point about the Lakers vs. Celtics and “unbuntu” (whatever that is), let me ask you something: What is Phil Jackson’s triangle offense? A system. In order for the system to work, what’s the first thing that those Lakers’ players must do? Buy into it. I’ve acknolwedged numberous times that superstar talent is nice to have, and talent in general is important, but the establishment of a system in which such talent can effectively operate is critical. Establish a winning system, THEN find the guys capable of executing it on the court. It’s not “magic”, it’s common sense.

        I believe that the absence of Kendrick Perkins in game 7 the last time the Lakers and Celtics met in the Finals was a bigger issue than KG getting hurt (I don’t know what else you could be referring to, unless you mean the series as a whole), but the Celtics still had a good chance to win in that contest’s late stages. Kobe Bryant, to his credit, recognized that he was struggling on the scoring end and adjusted his game accordingly – as any good player (he doesn’t have to be a superstar) is expected to do in a culture that promotes teamwork and sacrificing individual numbers for the sake of team success. There was also the emergence of Ron Artest and Derek Fisher late, but it all ties back into the system and the teamwork concept: had Kobe forgotten about teamwork and the selfishness out of a selfish need for touches, the Lakers might’ve lost that game in a near-rout. Phil established a system in which guys are to understand their roles, and adjust their game within their roles as needed, for the good of the team. The result? A championship. As for the Heat, I’ve acknowledged that their team chemistry seems to be improving this year, and, if they continue down that path and better establish who does what in crunch time (and make proper in-game adjustments according to the opposition’s gameplan), they have a great look at a championship.

        Getting to your point about last year’s Celtics/Heat series, remember that guys like Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson had been traded during the regular season. Granted, Robinson hadn’t been there long, but Perkins had been there from the beginning. Don’t you believe that getting rid of him and bringing in guys accustomed to a different system disrupted the Celtics’ chemistry to some extent? The issue isn’t just the loss of talent, it’s having to replace said talent with someone who can learn the system with what’s left of the regular season at the time of the trade.

        How can you say that facts are on your side when the determination of which players are or aren’t superstars is, itself, subject to one’s opinion? Or can you provide a consensus definition of what a superstar is? Can you show me with any calculable evidence that no “superstar” player has ever been dubbed such because his game benefitted from the system he played in?

        Speaking of the Mavs/Heat clashes in the Finals, why don’t you turn your attention to the LATEST chapter of their rivalry? The Mavs had a system, they executed it at a high level, and, down the stretch, they neutralized the superstar talent on the other side. While Dirk is a superstar in his own right, he had his down moments (i.e. the first half of game six) – but he adjusted his game and involved his other teammates to fill the void. This isn’t a “romantic notion”, it’s smart basketball.

        Posted by Brandon Crockett | January 28, 2012, 12:09 pm
        • I’ll reply in smaller doses so this discussion will have more cohesion (pun intended). I’ll tackle first your cohesion and how you (desperately) tied it with go-to guys. First of all, the way u add up the two is laughable. Role players not deferring to their superstars as ‘go-to guys’? Wow! In what bball universe is that happening? I dare say you got thing in reverse: teams with bad team play often depend more on their superstars as ‘go-to guys’. In fact, the lesser teams would run more isos for their superstars than the better teams. And role players are just as happy to let the superstar fire away. Role players had, have and will defer to their superstars regardless of the state of their team chemistry. There will be nutcases, lyk jamal crawford who’d jack up shots despite not having the license to shoot. But again, an exception to the rule.

          Posted by Jourdan | January 30, 2012, 3:37 am
          • You’re quite the comedian with those cohesion cracks, but you’re still not getting it. In a good system, role players don’t just defer to their go-to guys unquestionably throughout a game, but rather in the right situations (i.e. down the stretch of a close game). That’s part of what makes a good system so important: when players reject it or take certain aspects of it to the extreme (i.e. your example of bad teams deferring to their superstars more), it’s hard to win meaningful games regardless of talent. A good system emphasizes an understanding of when role players (or “superstar” players, for that matter) are to defer and when everyone needs to get involved, and the absence of this usually leads to a disappointing outcome.

            Posted by Brandon Crockett | January 30, 2012, 8:24 am
        • Now, let’s turn to that jibber-jabber abt understanding and acceptance. Here it is to me: when I say understanding roles, I do imply that they accept them. Now, a WORKING system, the one that leads to winning AND winning often almost invariably sells team play from the 1st to the last guy on the bball team. And again, superstars give you the edge in getting W’s. And generally, more superstars lead to more wins. I don’t discount a band of (lesser) bros winning games bec, say, Doug Collins’ system exemplifies team play, but again statistically speaking this has less chance of winning it all.

          Posted by Jourdan | January 31, 2012, 12:00 am
          • “Now, a WORKING system, the one that leads to winning AND winning often almost invariably sells team play from the 1st to the last guy on the bball team. And again, superstars give you the edge in getting W’s. And generally, more superstars lead to more wins.”

            More superstars don’t necessarily lead to more wins – having a good system in place which emphasizes team play (i.e. playing to each other’s strengths, having the willingness to get the ball where it needs to go in crunch-time situations, not being too reliant upon any one guy, maximizing effort, etc.) from the onset that’s subsequently FOLLOWED by said superstars (or lower-tier stars, for that matter) is a more complete formula. You acknowledged the need for a good system, but I still disagree with where you have it on a team’s list of priorities. A good system expands what stars are able to do in the context of team sport, and a team having said system established and ready to teach incoming stars BEFORE draft-time gives said stars a better chance of being more effective early on.

            Posted by Brandon Crockett | January 31, 2012, 12:47 pm
        • True to form, I’ll tackle the team chemistry and your take on it. You said team chemistry first, superstar second. And then you said the Lakers won bec Kobe understood and accepted (just to be more explicit this time) team play. Well, it’s a chicken and egg thing again! The way I look at it, Kobe learned to embrace team play bec he had superstar teammate in Pau. Pau became the dependable no.2. Lakers after Shaq yet pre-Gasol days already had a system…it’s the same system that to 3-peat. But Kobe habitually abandoned that and did his thing since his teammates sucked big time. That strategy, arguably, actually allowed them to sneak in the playoffs – a proof how a superstar wins ball games. But as expected, you can’t win a lot of playoff games with just 1 superstar. What happened? Kobe wanted out…f***ed Bynum on air even. And lo and behold! Pau landed on Lakers lap…and then all of a sudden, Lakers started winning ball games. Same system, different result. What changed? Gasol. And once they started winning, LO got better. Bynum got better. Derek Fisher wanted in as well. Winning breeds love in the locker room. And team chemistry grew by leaps and bounds. And then they won it all (I mean they won the championship). Now what happened next? Ron Artest happened. He joined the Lakers for a discount to win a ring, and even promised to quit jacking up stupid shots. You see, winners love the company of winners. And oh, lest I forgot, Ron was clueless of your vaunted team play…he never really learned the nuances of the triangle. He consistently was out of position and he was out-of-synch…so much for your team chemistry. And then, Ron hit the winning Game 7 shot. Was that team play? Hardly. It was more a superstar thing than anything. Ron, who was utterly lost in Phil’s system most of the time hit the big one on his own skills. So quit your team play shit as the primary reason why the Lakers won. It’s not. Sure it was important, but in relative terms, that was the 3rd most important. The first 2? Kobe, then Gasol.

          Posted by Jourdan | January 31, 2012, 12:27 am
          • Regardless of Kobe’s reasons for finally buying into the system again, my point was that he DID buy into it and it helped the Lakers win a championship. Had he done otherwise, then – Pau or no Pau – the Lakers might not have GOTTEN to the Finals, let alone won it. So it was with Pau: his agreeing to defer to Kobe upon arrival was part of his acclimation to the Lakers’ SYSTEM. Kobe’s talent probably made that easier to do, sure – but had he not done so, Kobe’s talent would’ve been irrelevant. That’s what makes the system (i.e. teamwork) more important than going out and finding the guys with the most individual talent.

            As for your “proof” of how superstars win ball games, remember that – although Kobe’s domination of the ball might’ve been enough to get them INTO the playoffs in the post-Shaq/pre-Gasol years, it didn’t give the Lakers even a sniff of the championship (we are talking about what wins championships, right?). Yes, the talent on the roster at that time apparently left something to be desired, but Kobe’s deviation from the system didn’t help matters – unless you’re willing to argue that the Lakers are willing to settle for short-lived playoff appearances because of a perceived lack of talent. The same Lakers organization with the second-most championship banners in league history? I doubt it. The post-Shaq/pre-Gasol years don’t prove that the system isn’t as important as having superstar talent because, as you admitted, Kobe ABANDONED the system! What do you hope to prove about a system that wasn’t even being used? I don’t know, but I’ll tell you what you will prove: nothing.

            Posted by Brandon Crockett | January 31, 2012, 1:12 pm
        • Ad lastly, wow oh wow on your question abt the ‘consensus defn of a superstar’. Do I smell desperation here? You want to diffuse my point abt superstars and superteams by raising doubts abt who qualify as superstars? Hmm, ok I’ll bite. Where should i begin? Ah, superstars = multiple All-star selection + perennial All-NBA team. Oftentimes, these are your max or near max money franchise guys in teams. They generally consistently lead their teams, and likely the NBA in one or a few, and sometimes all major categories – points, assists, rebounds, blocks. Oh, and the top superstars also are also your perennial MVP candidates. What else? Ah yeah, these are typically the guys who are able to force their loser teams to trade them to ball clubs of their choice, or make NBA owners lick their asses just to keep them in town and then turn them in looneys, e.g, Dan Gilbert, when they leave town nonetheless. And lastly, these are your guys with the license to shoot 30 shots, miss 15 straight, and still are allowed to continue shooting the nxt 15 and playing 30+ mins even on off-night. Heck, they could go 5/27 and are still expected to take the game winning shot, miss it, and still come unscathed with a simple ‘He’s had a bad game. He’d bounce back the next game’ from the coach. Specific enough for you? Tsk tsk, this is one of the dumbest question that you posed.

          Posted by Jourdan | January 31, 2012, 5:03 am
          • Hmm, so I ask you for a CONSENSUS definition of a superstar…and you give me YOUR definition. Very good Jourdan. Still, I’ll give you points for at least trying to construct a definition that, so far as I know, doesn’t exist. You see, Jourdan, there’s a difference between fact and opinion. What you listed in this post are possible TRAITS of a superstar – these things don’t define him. What’s more telling to me about who are and aren’t superstars within the context of TEAM basketball is what they do to help their team win (i.e. the sacrifices/adjustments they make within a system and/or during the course of a game, how he impacts the outcome of games – especially big ones – regardless of stats, etc.) Even all-star/all-NBA selections are subject to the opinion of voters. These opinions are usually informed, yes, but are they always justified? Do they ALWAYS ensure that the best players are honored? I’m not saying that these measures aren’t reliable, but are they foolproof? I don’t think so, but that’s just my opinion. You see how that works?

            Posted by Brandon Crockett | January 31, 2012, 1:32 pm
          • @ Brandon Crockett:

            “What you listed in this post are possible TRAITS of a superstar – these things don’t define him.”

            What a play of words! Why do I get a sense that you’re arguing for the sake of having an argument? Now, that I am in front of a PC instead of typing on an iphone, I’d deal with this stupidity in unambiguous language: modal logic. Why modal logic? It’s because we’re not talking about a necessary truth, but rather a contingent truth. In case you need help, a truth is necessary when its negation entails a contradiction, i.e., it is true in all possible worlds. But since a “superstar” cannot be define in terms that would be absolutely true for all people, its definition couldn’t be a necessary truth. It is inherently a contingent truth,i.e., something that is only true for some, and hopefully in almost all cases/for most people.

            Now, I have defined a superstar as a player comprising of a set of positive player qualities. In set theory, S = P (x1, x2, x3,…xn), where xi = positive quality. Let me share with you the basic axioms that supported my argument:

            Axiom 1. It is possible to single out positive properties from among all properties. These qualities are the relevant to winning and/or gaining popular support/following. Example: points per game

            Axiom 2. For all qualities X, either X is positive or “not X” is positive. X and its negation cannot be both positive. Example: All-NBA is positive. Not All-NBA is not a positive quality

            Axiom 3. A If a property X is positive, then it is positive in MOST worlds. Translation: If being in All-NBA team is a positive quality for me, then it is a positive quality for the majority of people.

            These axioms are reasonable, unless you could find a valid counter-argument against them. In logical arguments, a question like “…but are they foolproof?” is not a valid counter-argument.

            Anyway, to complete the story, the positive qualities that I have named were:

            x1 = instance of being named as an All-Star
            x2 = instance as having been included in the All-NBA team
            x3 = instance when the player leads his team in scoring
            x4 = …leads his team in assists
            xn = …leads his team in a relevant, measurable statistical category.

            Now, what’s your FIRM counter-argument that these qualities aren’t positive player qualities? Aren’t these relevant to winning a championship?

            And your “Do you ALWAYS ensure that the best players are honored?” is totally devoid of logic. MOST truths are NOT necessary truths. ONLY mathematical truths are necessary truths, e.g., 2+2 = 4 will ALWAYS be true. But is democracy the best form of government? Is it true that you have the right to live? Is it true that you’re not dumb? These couldn’t be true “in all the possible worlds”. So quit your challenge by way of raising ‘what ifs’, ‘it’s only an informed opinion’, etc. These are stupid counter-arguments that would be laughed at by reasonable men.

            Posted by JOURDAN | February 1, 2012, 4:27 am
        • Finally, we’re down to the Mavs and your cherry-picking ways. Of all, you highlighted Dirk having one off-night and deferring to teammates to support your ‘team play trumps superstars’ argument. How abt pointing out how the Mavs reached the Finals in the first place? Or how abt the majority of the playoff games including the Finals? When you increase your sample size instead of focusing on anecdotal evidence, you’d see a clear pattern emerging – the Mavs won tons of games and eventually became the champs because of their superstar, Dirk Nowitzki. He was healthy enough to lead his team in the playoffs. Take him out and your team chemistry achieves nothing close to a championship. Yes, I concede that the Mavs did buck the trend abt mutliple superstars winning it all…but you’re completely mistaken to point out that the Mavs won bec of team chemistry first, talent second. If stats were on your side, Cuban wouldn’t break that team to prepare for the Howard++ sweepstakes at the end of this season. Why mess with team chemistry and trade it for more talent? Simple. Because the odds are simply not in favor of a Mavs repeat this yr or even in the near-term. You said I am mistaken abt superteams and winning. I already offered you a lot – the Lakers championship teams all have multiple superstars. Jordan’s Bulls, Tim’s Spurs. Someone offered the Bad Boy Pistons as your ‘team chemistry’ champs. Well, not exactly accurate. Isiah, Joe, Vinnie, and even Rodman (during the 2nd championship run) were not pushovers. They are among the top-tier talent during that time. If you want to go bk to the NBA ancient times we could…but are you that hopelessly stubborn to not acknowledge the obvious? Talent is at the top of the list of important things. Heck, this is all implied. Why have a draft where teams would need to lottery Gods to get the first pick and thus acquire a high potential talent? Why the huge salary differential between the alpha dog and even the 4th, 5th guy on team? Why does one player cost you 3 sometimes more in trade, plua cash and picks even? Tsk tsk, it seems to me that u’r living in ur bball bubble where losers get as much of a chance than the alpha dogs. Just play tight, chant ‘ubuntu’, accept that there’s a go-to guy, and voila! Championship. Oh well, u’r free to dream. Good luck

          Posted by Jourdan | January 31, 2012, 5:33 am
          • Jourdan,

            Your posts are really embarrassing. Please, stop.

            Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 31, 2012, 6:12 am
          • Dirk was the go-to guy in the Mavs’ system. Had the other veterans or younger players on that team allowed their egos to blind them to that point, or conversely deferred to Dirk too often, the probability of the Mavs doing what they did would’ve taken a significant hit. In game six of the Finals – the outcome of which gave the Mavs their first campionship – Dirk had a bad first half. However, he didn’t allow this to change his focus to tune of arrogantly demanding the ball until he got his shot back, or not bothering with rebounds out of frustration. Doing either or both of these things would’ve gone against the system and teamwork in general, and, against a great defensive and very talented team on the road, that wouldn’t have served the Mavs well.

            Guys like Dirk and Chandler were very important to the Mavs’ run, but their willingness to work together and execution of their duties within the Mavs’ system was more important than the Mavs simply having them there.

            Posted by Brandon Crockett | January 31, 2012, 2:02 pm
          • @ Paulie,

            Embarrassing? How? Is it because I bastardized the English language? Ah, it was very difficult to type on a touchscreen. Sorry for that.

            But if it wasn’t that, then please share your wisdom.

            Posted by JOURDAN | February 1, 2012, 4:33 am
      • “The made bad shots in a crucial, pivotal time in the playoffs are the ones that get the crowd going and unnerve the other team.”

        Is this a subjective or fact based statement, I am confused…where would fishers 0.4 shot against the spurs fall? Did it unnerve them and help the lakers win the series, or is he not enough of a superstar. All shots that are difficult and somewhat unexpected have an effect on the other team…it isnt simply limited to those that superstars make.

        And as to getting the crowd involved, I’d be shocked if any player in the nba ever made the following statement, “When wade stole that ball and threw the alley oop to lebron and the crowd went wild, it really distracted me and thats why we lost.” This is where coaching and having a system that focuses the players comes into play.

        Look at Kobe in 2005-2006, no matter how much of a star he was, he didnt buy into the system and the team was just a tad over .500. He hit some unreal shots against the suns, but it didnt break their backs. The suns stuck to their system with nash and won the series. This was before any team had multiple superstars…and I would define a superstar as one of the top ten players in the league or one of the top two or three at a position.

        Here’s a stat for you, this season the heat are 8-1 without wade and 6-4 with him…explain that FACT.

        Posted by Anti-Bill Simmons | January 29, 2012, 11:03 am
        • Here we go again with dim-witted comments. Of course, any amazing play wows the crowd and get them involved. But tell me,’who makes tough shots over and over again? Louis Williams or Kobe Bryant? Oh yes, Louis Williams exists in NBA in case you don’t know him. So do you gety drift now? Having superstars, and lots of them definitely gives you lots of ‘oohhs’ and ‘ahhhs’ that have the potential to swing the momentum.

          And yeah, no one would be stupid enough to claim tha he got disheartened by an opponent’s shot. But are you really simplistic and stupid to expect that anyone will ever admit to getting unnerved by a crushing shot? Here’s your hint – when Lebron drains 30-ft trey, follow it up with a thunderous dunk in traffic, and makes a fade-away with a hand in his face, what’s the opposing coach’s likely reaction? He calls a time-out. Why? To re-group his troop and calm them down. Want an extreme case of a superstar crushing the spirit of the other team? Go watch that Lebron playoff game against the Pistons. Did the Pistons forget abt their system that time that’s why they lost? Nah,!they were perplexed at what they saw. Players are emotional humans, not heartless robots.

          Abt Kobe’s Lakers post-Shaq. It’s arguable that they lost bec Kobe wasn’t playing team ball. I honestly believe, and I’m totally not a Kobe fan, that they sneaked in the playoffs simply because of Kobe’s superhuman effort. He was playing with a bunch of losers. Don’t you think Phil willingly allowed Kobe to take so many tough, contested shots? He even ran more isos for Kobe and deviated far from triangle. He also defended Kobe’s shot selection saying that ‘he normally makes tougher shots than what average players would make’. I’d go with Phil’s judgement than your interpretation. The fact is that Phil, winner of 6 championships at that point, relied heavily on Kobe’s talents than the triangle to win games. Your take is just an opinion, and obviously a biased one. Heck, I don’t even know what credentials you have over Phil for me to take your word against his factual actions.

          And oh, I have discussed the whole wade issue. For your benefit, I’ll tell the facts without truncating them just to support any irrational hatred against the Heatles. Miami plays poorly with an INJURED wade. Miami plays better with HEALTHY lebron and bosh. That’s your fact. Why? Again, wade takes away shots from the other 2, affects spacing on their offensive schemes, and is expected to play active defense. When he’s playing poorly, his lackluster play gets magnified beyond just the lost point/rebounds/assists/steals/blocks. His shortcomings get multiplied. Throw in the fact that he plays huge minutes and you get the picture that an injured wade only hurts his team more with playing than sitting the games out. But to extrapolate this and generalise to say that Miami is better without Wade is stupid. A healthy Wade is never bad for the Heat. The plus/minus numbers with Wade on the floor are far better than without (on the bench BUT active, i.e., excluding non-normal games when Wade is clearly injured). This is how you interpret facts. Numbers really don’t lie. But people do…sometimes sheepishly through selectively leaving out leading indicators as to why numbers appear as they are. Oh yeah, that’s you. Now grow up and get over ur overtly attempts to look anaytical and informed.

          Posted by Jourdan | January 31, 2012, 6:24 am
          • First off, go back to high school and learn to write, its giving me a headache trying to interpret half the crap you write.

            Second, good players dont get unnerved, because two points or three is still worth the same no matter how it gets in the basket. Case in point, last nights Clippers game: look at the sequence that followed Griffins dunk, the Thunder made baskets, they didn’t turtle and die.

            Third, you say Kobe was playing with “a bunch of losers” but earlier you wrote that as soon as Pau showed up they began winning. So Pau turned losers into winners because of his leadership? Or could it be that the system worked better with a passing big like Pau?

            Fourth, by 2005-2006, Phil had won 9 championships not 6. Hey you are just like Lebron, you could both use some help learning to count.

            And fifth, the fact is Lebron and Bosh are averaging 20 and 15 shots per game this season and those numbers are about the same when Wade isnt playing, so your point above is flat out wrong. Bosh took 27 shots in a double OT win in which neither Lebron or Wade player and that is the only game significantly different from the rest. In the first game of the year he took 9 and played 24 minutes. I think that the Heat are playing better this season (with and without Wade) because they have a system…one that Lebron is buying in to. He is shooting 40% from 3 this year versus a career avg of 33%, however he is shooting less of them and has developed a post game. Regardless of Wades health, this team will live or die by Lebron buying into him being a post up player and not an Antione Walker wannabe.

            A small side note, I believe you meant to tell me to, “get over my overt attempts to seem analytic and informed” – I’ll try, but only if you get someone to edit your garbage.

            Posted by Anti Bill Simmons | January 31, 2012, 7:39 am
          • @ Anti Bill,

            Firstly, I am sorry for the text speak and lots of grammatical errors. Now that I am in front of a PC, I will try my best to minimise the errors.

            Secondly, I respect your views about players not getting unnerved and your fascination with supporting your arguments by way of anecdotal evidence. Now, can you kindly explain why coaches routinely call time-outs after a “wow” sequence by the other team? Oh, a notable exception to this general trend is Phil Jackson, who typically lets his players play through the opposing team’s incredible plays. What’s with the “the-momentum-shifted-with-that-play” comments that I frequently hear from NBA analysts? Is this just pure marketing? Is this just a means to lure the fans to believing that “wow” plays do affect games? I don’t have the illusion that every “wow” play will lead to wins. But I do respect the fact that players are humans. And humans, by their very nature, aren’t entirely rational. And in a competitive NBA, you want to get the edge on MOST fronts. Having quite a number of superstars who would be able to do extraordinary feats on the court gives a psychological edge. But lest I forget, why haven’t you tackled the game when Lebron beat the Pistons almost by himself? What happened to the Pistons that time? Are you certain that they weren’t affected by Lebron’s freight train ways? Have you talked to them? Seriously, I want to know why you’re so sure that “wow” plays don’t mean anything…at all.

            Thirdly, thank you for pointing my oversight. Yeah, Phil already had 9 rings then. Anyway, it is very funny how you counter-argue. Let me point this out: “…So Pau turned losers into winners because of his leadership?” What’s wrong with this? It’s a strawman. It’s a fallacy by way of misrepresenting my position, and then refuting the misrepresentation. I NEVER said anything about Pau’s “leadership”. In fact, you alluded to why Pau made the Lakers better. Let me point that out “Or could it be that the system worked better with a PASSING BIG like Pau?” (highlight supplied). Did you now understand it? Maybe not so I’ll help you. Gasol is a TALENTED BIG MAN. He’s a bonafide superstar, a fundamentally sound Euro player, and a winner (see FIBA). His talents allowed Phil Jackson to use the triangle more than before. In fact, you said it yourself, “that the system worked…with Pau”. You just supported my argument. You need TALENT to make things work. Without it, a system doesn’t produce anything.

            Fourth, you offered another fallacy with your Miami comment. It’s another strawman. I NEVER argued that there were differences between Lebron and Bosh’s numbers with or without Wade. So your whole argument revolving around that is totally fallacious. I’d repeat my point: Miami is NOT better with one less superstar. Miami is at its BEST when LBJ, Bosh, and Wade are ALL playing HEALTHY. This was in response to your assertion that Miami is better off without Wade this year. I countered that by saying that the argument is erroneous since you based your argument on an atypical set of games when Wade was playing well below his capabilities because of an injury. Your counter-argument NEVER addressed my point at all. Instead you offer this LBJ and Bosh having the same numbers with or without Wade. Heck, I am not surprised at all with that. As I have said before, Wade affects spacing and ball movement. Without Wade in the lineup, Miami altered its offense by using more shooters. This increased the production of its role players so it’s no surprise that LBJ’s and Bosh’s numbers stayed the same. Even then, if you examine the games, it was Lebron or Bosh who made the impact plays.

            Finally, Miami winning a championship DOES NOT rely on Lebron “buying” into a system. This is totally absurd. Do you have proof that Lebron wasn’t “coachable”? Did Brown tell you that? Did Spoelstra tell you that? Has anyone of significance ever told you that??? That was a BASELESS accusation. This is, at best, your opinion conjured from thin air. True enough, Miami will win it all with Lebron’s consistent ability to post-up. But the lack of Lebron’s post-up play is likely due to a LACK OF SKILL than his stubbornness to “not buy” Spoelstra’s system. There is more truth to this lack of skill manifesting as LBJ’s hesitation to post-up than your “he’s not buying into it”. How am I able to say this? Because Lebron himself WORKED ON his post-up game in the off-season. This was as clear as a testament that he wasn’t comfortable at all in the low block. And even this season, he sometimes looked tentative and awkward down low. That’s a confidence issue more than anything. No system could ever solved a lack of skill or confidence in one’s skills. That’s a personal battle. Lebron needs to expand his talent set for Miami to win it all. If he could do that, they’d win. And please…enough of crediting the “system” for Lebron’s increased 3-pt percentage. It’s too early for that. Plus what system? Spoelstra’s free-flowing “read-and-react” system? Oh yes, this will work in the playoffs. I am among the skeptical ones who don’t buy this shit. Miami doesn’t have problems scoring in open court, which is what the “spread” offense capitalizes on. Rather, they struggle in half-court sets, especially against zone defenses. On defense, they have problems with quick point guards. The “spread” offense hasn’t solve their half-court issues. And I haven’t seen any changes in their defensive schemes at all. The losses that they had were from teams who employed various faces of the zone defense and/or teams with good, quick point guards. So unlike you, I don’t buy Spoelstra’s system. Miami is winning because it has enough talent to win games despite a flawed system.

            Edit my garbage? Harsh. Take a chill pill…we’re not writing white papers here.

            Posted by JOURDAN | February 1, 2012, 5:51 am
          • “Again, wade takes away shots from the other 2″

            “I NEVER argued that there were differences between Lebron and Bosh’s numbers with or without Wade.”

            Maybe I’m missing something here…by “other 2″, were you referring to two other players Wade takes shots away from?

            As for Lebron beating the Pistons, it wasnt one impressive play, it was the whole game and the Pistons were at the tail end of their run.

            I agree with you that superstars are fun to watch, but I dont think you can win a championship with superstars and no system. (I know you ranked it players then system) But you can win with no superstars and a system; this is why I would say the emphasis is on the system. Im not saying if I was a GM I wouldnt take the best players, I would just take the ones that fit the system. People have given examples of teams winning without superstars which you seem to call one-off. Give me an example of superstars and no system and I’ll waive the white flag. Otherwise we can agree to table this until it happens…

            As for Pau, you think he is a superstar? I’d say he is a solid PF who can pass…a superstar is someone who can take over the game on their own. This is why I’d never consider Bosh a superstar…he wasn’t going to take the Raptors any deeper than the first round on his own. Lebron, Wade superstars…Bosh, is at the next level.

            Posted by Anti Bill Simmons | February 1, 2012, 6:24 am
          • Thank you! People who say that Miami should trade Wade(and really who would we trade him to that could give us close to equal vaule?) are either…
            1. Fans of other teams that would love Miami to trade Wade but they won’t admit it so they make up BS numbers about how Miami plays better without Wade

            2. Bandwagon Heat fans that have no idea what they are talking about becuase they never watched a Heat game before last season.

            3. Missinformed people who think that a 8-1 record with Wade hurt in the regular season means anything at all come playoff time.

            4. Haters

            5. Just plain stupid.

            Posted by nightbladehunter | February 1, 2012, 1:35 pm
          • Yeah, nbh, you missed my point. I didnt say they should trade Wade. I said they play better ball when there is a clear cut leader on the court and with Wade out recently, thats been LBJ.

            Also with Lebron and Wade consistently deferring to each other and the end of important games it hurts their overall effectivness, they’re tentative and cant find rhythm on offense or defense. This is where the coach needs to step in and tell either one of them to do what they each did their first 6 years in the league…and be the alpha dog. This is where having a system that trumps any individual player actually makes the team better than the sum of its parts…if the Heat can figure out how to do that they could easily win 3 rings in the next 5 years. And this is coming from a Laker fan who has watched teams with systems and stars win 11 championships in the past 3 decades.

            Posted by Anti Bill Simmons | February 1, 2012, 2:16 pm
          • @ AntiBill

            That would be because a hurt Wade playing hurts the Heat, they are better off with him on the bench if hes not close to 100%. With a healthy Wade out their they are not better with him on the bench. And yes even Wade said that Lebron needs to lead with his play and let the rest of the team fill in as needed. As much as I am a huge fan of Wade, I do not question that Lebron is the better player.

            I also would contend that Miami very much has a system on defense, and when they play within that system good things happen(see tonight’s game vs Philly and all the other games they have won this year aganist good teams), if Miami wins a title this year will come down to their defense not their offense. They will score enough points that is pretty much a given with the talent on this team. But will they be able to play the defense they have shown they are capable of playing, when it matters in the post season. That will decide if Miami ends the season on top.

            Posted by nightbladehunter | February 3, 2012, 10:45 pm
          • @ Anti Bill Simmons

            I said “Again, wade takes away shots from the other 2, affects spacing on their offensive schemes, and is expected to play active defense?

            and then said “I NEVER argued that there were differences between Lebron and Bosh’s numbers with or without Wade.”

            1. You obviously had to focus on the first part AND then just plainly ignore the rest of my main point. I actually pointed out a wrong fallacy…not surprising that you didn’t pick it up. You just committed a fallacy of composition, striving to disprove my point by way of salami-slicing the argument.

            2. True that I never argued about the numbers ALONE. Be that as it may, I had a re-look at the numbers and observed that you even LIED about them:

            Lebron FGA jumped from 18.7 (w/ Wade playing) to 20.25 (w/o Wade) for the games played up to Jan 25 (Wade was back in the game played in the 27th in NY). The difference is more pronounced when you take the season average, which is 17.8 FGA. This is explainable since a healthier Wade means that LBJ is resting more (37.05 mins per game w. Wade in the lineup vs. 37.5 when Wade is out).

            Bosh’s patterns are also the same. His FGA was 14.11 w/ Wade in the lineup for games played until 25th Jan. W/o Wade, his FGA increased to 16.6. Including the games played after 25th, Bosh’s FGA drops to 13.7 with Wade in the lineup.

            So there, I am amazed that people will LIE about the numbers that are verifiable. It’s disgusting.

            But then again, I did not argue that Wade just takes away shots from the other two. Rather, it’s the total effect that Wade had on the team’s offense. As I said, Miami plays differently without Wade. LBJ’s assist rate went up to 7.75 per game in Wade’s absence from 6.6 per game with Wade. Bosh’s assist rate change was more dramatic from 1.8 with Wade to 2.7 without. Obviously, this points to that Miami is using more shooters without Wade.

            But is Miami better without Wade? No. And please don’t dare me to put up stats here or dispute this by quoting numbers from wherever. I will do that and again, show how f***ed up liar you are.

            Posted by Jourdan | February 13, 2012, 3:33 am
          • @ Anti Bill Simmons,

            Lest you nitpick again:

            - the game played on 27th Jan was in Miami AGAINST NY

            - the 17.8 FGA by James for the season that I quote is for games played WITH Wade in the lineup.

            Posted by Jourdan | February 13, 2012, 3:38 am
          • @ Anti Bill Simmons,

            You said “As for Lebron beating the Pistons, it wasnt one impressive play, it was the whole game and the Pistons were at the tail end of their run.”

            Nah, it was a SERIES OF FREIGHT-TRAIN plays – the kind that makes the crowd belt out “oohs” and “ahhs”. You see, this is what I was pointing out: a less stellar player could probably make one stellar play. A superstar comes on you with one awesome play to the next…in a single f***ing game. Now, imagine if you have 2 or 3 of that superstar-caliber players? Lob-city? Yeah..you could just see the worried look on the opposing coach when LBJ and James jump on a 12-0 run punctuated by alley-oops and dunks like they were just video-characters. It almost feel like the game could just slip away. Case in point? Atlanta. Feb 12.

            You said “I agree with you that superstars are fun to watch, but I dont think you can win a championship with superstars and no system. ”

            - Who the hell believes that you should even run an NBA team without a system??? This is outright stupid.

            You said ” But you can win with no superstars and a system; this is why I would say the emphasis is on the system.”

            - Win what??? Regular season games? Wow, go ahead and take those!!! This is stupid. Again, three points:

            1. You need a superstar to win a championship.

            2. You need multiple superstars to win multiple championships.

            3. Superstars will win you games you don’t even deserve to win.

            I think most GMs, and even casual fans, would like their teams win the NBA championship, not just accumulate enough wins to get into the playoffs.

            With the exception of Spurs, and this is more to do with Greg Popovich being a truly wonderful one-of-a-kind coach than having just a “good system”, ALL past champions and current contenders have built their winning ways on TALENT first, system second.

            You said “Im not saying if I was a GM I wouldnt take the best players, I would just take the ones that fit the system. People have given examples of teams winning without superstars which you seem to call one-off. Give me an example of superstars and no system and I’ll waive the white flag. Otherwise we can agree to table this until it happens…”

            Again, this is a strawman. No one has argued for a team with NO system winning the championship. This is totally a stupid way to argue since you’re arguing a non-issue. My whole point was that having a SUPERB TALENT is primarily MORE IMPORTANT than having a good system. This is what I was saying: SUPERSTARS with less than magnificent system will win over a very well-coached bunch of second-tier talent in a 7-game series. This is the NBA that we’re talking, not the one-and-done FIBA games. So your challenge is pretty much worthless since no one would come to your proverbial table. Why? Bec nobody had said that a bunch of superstars could win it all with totally ZERO system.

            Now, I see what kind of GM you would be. You’re the one who’d draft Sam Bowie over Jordan, and Greg Oden over Kevin Durant. Portland had a system, already had an All-Star guard in Jim Paxson and an improving Clyde Drexler, and needed a Big Man. Bowie was perfect for Portland’s system. Now, we all know that it was the most stupid thing that Portland did. Did they learn from it? No. They did it again with Greg Oden. They needed a defensive big man to play with Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge while Durant was “just” a scoring machine. I bet you’d do the same things as Portland did…all for the system.

            Here’s the deal. Lakers drafted Kobe for his talent. Heck, he was sitting on the bench for quite some time. Looked how it turned out. And please, don’t tell me that Chicago drafted MJ bec. it “fits” their system, or D Rose bec it “fits” their system. Heck, in both cases, the front office eventually had to scrap the system and build around their superstars.

            So yeah, I’d rather chose Pat Riley over you as my GM. He had built a team that would contend, if not win, for many years. You’d probably be a lousy one with a 45-win team of role players happy enough to sneak into the playoffs. Rock on!!!

            As for Pau, you think he is a superstar? I’d say he is a solid PF who can pass…a superstar is someone who can take over the game on their own. This is why I’d never consider Bosh a superstar…he wasn’t going to take the Raptors any deeper than the first round on his own. Lebron, Wade superstars…Bosh, is at the next level.

            Posted by Jourdan | February 13, 2012, 4:53 am
  14. One last point: I said that you could assemble a team of good, not necessarily superstar-level, talent with a system already in place that stresses teamplay, each man playing to the strengths of his teammates, and maximizing effort. A team like that doesn’t have to be “star-less,” as you put it – or are you saying that the only stars in the NBA are “super” stars? I don’t buy that. The system is key: establish that, and the process of finding talent to execute it is easier to handle. It’s certainly better than throwing the most-talented players together with no system in place, and hoping that they’ll learn how to play together. Even the most talented and intelligent players benefit from structure and order, whereas the absence of such things limit what said talent can do against teams that gameplan to neutralize what they do best. System and talent need each other, but an established system diversifies what talented players are able to do. This isn’t streetball: other teams study what the opposition’s best players do best, and they prepare for it. If superstars aren’t taught what to do in such cases early on, it could come back to haunt them and the team as a whole in the postseason.

    Posted by Brandon Crockett | January 28, 2012, 12:33 pm
  15. Also see, Trailblazers, Portland, 1975-1977

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 28, 2012, 10:52 pm
  16. “A good system expands what stars are able to do in the context of team sport, and a team having said system established and ready to teach to incoming stars BEFORE draft-time gives said stars a better chance of being more effective early on.”

    I just wanted to add to this quote from one of my earlier comments by saying that this not only applies to the time prior to the draft, but prior to acquiring a star in a trade/thru free agency as well.

    Posted by Brandon Crockett | January 31, 2012, 2:14 pm
    • So are you willing to bet on this? Philly has a good system right now. Will this team win the championship before Miami win one? Really? Want to bet on this?

      And oh, you really have to take the “starless” comment out-of-context? Let me be more clear. A team of multiple superstars have a better chance of winning the championship even with a flawed system (MIAMI) than a team comprised of second-tier talent that runs a good system (PHILADELPHIA). You don’t want Philly? How about INDIANA? That’s also a very well-coached team that’s over-achieving right now. Tell me which team exemplifies your “team play” BS. Let’s see if that would even “scare” Miami in the playoffs.

      Posted by JOURDAN | February 1, 2012, 6:02 am
      • How can I take the word “starless” out of context? Doesn’t it mean “without stars”? I’ve acknowledged that a good system AND talent work hand-in-hand in the quest for a championship, but I stand by what I said about the system being more important. Miami almost won the championship last year…almost. They fell short vs a team that was more cohesive as a unit within their system, especially down the stretch of games. As for Philly, you’re the one who continues to use that example – I haven’t seen enough of them vs the NBA’s elite this season to make a truly solid judgment of how they measure up.

        Regarding your point about Miami vs Philly or Indiana, I’ve acknowledged the improvements that Miami has made as a unit, though they continue to have some 4th quarter glitches (they could’ve easily lost late to a Luou Deng-less Chicago team at home last Sunday). If Miami continues to improve and develop its system to the point where there’s real clarity about who the go-to guy will be consistently in crunch time, and the ball gets to that guy (barring in-game adjustments made because said guy isn’t in position to get the ball during that time), then I do expect them to beat either Philly or Indiana if either or both matchups occur in the playoffs. Again though, the lack of a good system makes this more challenging than you give it credit for – and a lack of adjustments on Miami’s part regarding the biggest problems the 76ers or Pacers pose to them matchup wise could prove very costly. Miami has the talent to get it done on paper, but EXECUTION is the key.

        Posted by Brandon Crockett | February 1, 2012, 1:36 pm
        • Ah, you want to know what context was it? Please read my post again where I wrote “starless” to check the context by which I use it ???

          It was evident that I was not talking about ABSOLUTES, i.e., I was speaking in relative terms when I mentioned that multiple SUPERSTARS generally lead to championships and likely winning multiple championship. Ergo, a “starless” system in THAT context would relate to a team of second-tier talent, i.e., NOT superstars. But then again, you don’t believe in “superstars” so it’s truly pointless to argue with you.

          And why bail out on your “system wins” BS? The problem with your BS is this: “I haven’t seen enough of them vs the NBA’s elite this season to make a truly solid judgment of how they measure up.”

          What’s an NBA elite to you? Who are the teams that fit the bill? Which teams have good systems by your book??? You question “my” definition of a “superstar”. Well, it’s far hilarious to hear you say that you’d render “judgment” on how a team with a “good system” fare against “NBA elite”. This begs of MORE definitions than anyone could agree on.

          The funny thing abt your “good system” is that it’s indefinable “a priori” or before the fact. You’d only conclude that a system is good IF you see the results, or AFTER the facts. That’s completely BS.

          Examples:

          “Kobe wasn’t following the system that’s why they can’t win post-Shaq pre-Gasol.”

          “LBJ is winning more because he’s following the system”

          These are hilarious! A total smokescreen. The only time that I’d believe your system BS is for you to stick with it and bet on it. As I said, Philly and Indiana are well-coached. How? Their season-to-season stats are ALL up. These are FACTS. I am not talking abt their win margins, but rather the leading indicators – ASSISTS, REB, TOs, etc. So these team are playing BETTER than ever. To me, these are signs of a “good system”.

          Now, if you want to bet on what you believe in – that good system could win a championship, then let’s have a BET. Your Team with a good system vs. Miami Heat. Otherwise, cut the crap.

          Miami will definitely improve. But that’s more to do with LBJ and Wade learning to play with each other TOGETHER than playing one after another, as they do most of the time. Team chemistry is more about individual players game IQ and willingness to play together than what a “good system” is. There’s NO “good system” that wins it all. Otherwise, ALL teams will just adopt that. “Ubuntu” is a myth.

          The truth is that WINNING breeds WINNING. And countless proofs point to that Superstars jumpstart the winning process. Chicago is relevant because of D Rose. Miami contends bec. of its Big 3. Lakers with Kobe, Gasol, and Bynum. Celtics with its quartet. WINNING breeds trust and fortify team chemistry and makes the team more palatable for MORE WINNERS. A “good system” is the one that maximises what the team talent is. It’s always SECONDARY to talent. You get the talent, and then you devise the system to maximise that talent.

          Posted by Jourdan | February 13, 2012, 4:08 am
          • Jourdan, I believe that you and I have reached an impasse: you still don’t agree with me, and I still don’t agree with you. The following are the last points I plan on making about the topic in question, and you can respond to them as you’d like. For my part, I’ve said all that I care to say with this and all of my other posts, I’m becoming increasingly annoyed with your temperament, and I’m agreeing to disagree with you.

            “It was evident that I was not talking about ABSOLUTES, i.e., I was speaking in relative terms when I mentioned that multiple SUPERSTARS generally lead to championships and likely winning multiple championship. Ergo, a “starless” system in THAT context would relate to a team of second-tier talent, i.e., NOT superstars. But then again, you don’t believe in “superstars” so it’s truly pointless to argue with you.”

            So you’re saying that “stars” and “second-tier talent” are one and the same? That’s fine if you are, but saying this from the onset would’ve been easier. Conversely, if this isn’t what you’re saying, then my assertion of your starless comment stands. I’ve acknowledged that superstars are nice to have several times – my point has been that the presence of superstars is not as important to winning a championship as a good system, nor is it in and of itself necessary.

            “And why bail out on your “system wins” BS? The problem with your BS is this: “I haven’t seen enough of them vs the NBA’s elite this season to make a truly solid judgment of how they measure up.””

            Jourdan, why do you continue to pin the 76ers example on me? YOU’RE the one that brought it up, as if they and Indiana are the only two examples of teams who rely on good systems. I’VE said that – if Miami establishes a system that solves their issues of “Who’s the go-to man in crunch time?” and “How can the big 3 play to each others’ strengths without painfully disregarding their own” – I not only expect them to beat both the 76ers AND Indiana in the postseason (if they even meet those two ballclubs), but to also have a great look at a championship. The combination of system AND talent would, in my mind, be too much. Still, Miami’s success would be dependent moreso on their system than their talent. They’re both important, but I believe that last year’s Finals is just one example of the system’s superiority.

            “What’s an NBA elite to you? Who are the teams that fit the bill? Which teams have good systems by your book??? You question “my” definition of a “superstar”. Well, it’s far hilarious to hear you say that you’d render “judgment” on how a team with a “good system” fare against “NBA elite”. This begs of MORE definitions than anyone could agree on.”

            What you fail to recognize, intentionally or unintentionally, in my argument is that I’m not saying that talent doesn’t matter. The champions of recent years and throughout NBA history have all had talent (many of them superstar talent) – I’m not denying this. However, though you can argue that some of them have done it without superstars, name me ONE that’s done it without a good system. The Showtime Lakers and Jordan’s Bulls weren’t out there coaching themselves, nor were they above the need for structure, order, and a solid gameplan. You can tell me that MJ didn’t buy into a system until he had superstar teammates like Pippen until you’re blue in the face, but the fact remains that Jordan still had to buy in. Had he not done that, or had a system not been in place to accomodate both players and the rest of the team, then the additions of Pippen and Rodman would most likely have been of little use in the postseason.

            “The funny thing abt your “good system” is that it’s indefinable “a priori” or before the fact. You’d only conclude that a system is good IF you see the results, or AFTER the facts. That’s completely BS.”

            The funny thing about my good system is that it usually YIELDS good results, because it’s built solidly on the game’s fundamentals (i.e. teamwork, the sacrifice of individual numbers for the team’s success, each man playing in a way that complements his teammates’ strengths without neglecting his own). Don’t you know going into a season that you’ll probably need these things to be successful? Talent plays a role in whether or not said system is executed properly, true – but the failure of said talent to execute isn’t an indictment on the system. Perhaps those players simply need more time to develop their games within the system. It wasn’t so long ago that OKC looked like something of an up-and-coming doormat, and Chicago was either missing the playoff cut or getting bumped in the first round. Today, not much has changed talent-wise with either of these clubs, but they’re still enjoying great success. The difference? Better defined roles and execution within a winning system.

            ““Kobe wasn’t following the system that’s why they can’t win post-Shaq pre-Gasol.”

            “LBJ is winning more because he’s following the system””

            Actually, I said that the Miami Heat are winning more because they seem to be establishing a better system. LBJ, for all his importance to their success, is still just one guy. The TEAM wins. Getitng back to my point about their system, though, I’m still not sold on the Heat winning it all because I still don’t know what they’re going to do in crunch-time in the playoffs. They’re improving, but they’re not a finished product.

            “Now, if you want to bet on what you believe in – that good system could win a championship, then let’s have a BET. Your Team with a good system vs. Miami Heat. Otherwise, cut the crap.”

            As I’ve said numerous times in this post and others, I’m not arguing that championship teams can do without talent so long as they have a good system. They need both, but the establishment and execution of a winning system is the more important component of the two. Do this, and you can win without SUPERstar talent. Assemble the best individual talent out there without a winning system to guide them, and you can expect to lose the games that matter.

            “Miami will definitely improve. But that’s more to do with LBJ and Wade learning to play with each other TOGETHER than playing one after another, as they do most of the time. Team chemistry is more about individual players game IQ and willingness to play together than what a “good system” is. There’s NO “good system” that wins it all. Otherwise, ALL teams will just adopt that. “Ubuntu” is a myth.”

            Hmmm…Wade and ‘Bron playing with each other as opposed to one behind the other, you say? That sounds alot like the stuff of a good system to me. I mean, are you really going to chalk it all up to ‘Bron and Wade finally tapping into their respective high basketball IQ’s? What’s taking them so long? That’s not to say that these two aren’t intelligent players, but, if they do finally come to the above-mentioned conclusion that you’ve sugeested for them, it won’t be as if they’ve made some amazing discovery – it’s just teamwork. Winning systems allow for and encourage teamwork. That lesser teams might follow a good system and fall to teams with greater talent in the biggest games isn’t proof that the system is secondary. What about the system of the team with greater talent? It’s not as if they’re relying on their talent and “high basketball IQ’s” to do it all for them – they have a gameplan and an order to how they operate, the absence of which makes effective teamwork and winning more difficult.

            “The truth is that WINNING breeds WINNING. And countless proofs point to that Superstars jumpstart the winning process. Chicago is relevant because of D Rose. Miami contends bec. of its Big 3. Lakers with Kobe, Gasol, and Bynum. Celtics with its quartet. WINNING breeds trust and fortify team chemistry and makes the team more palatable for MORE WINNERS. A “good system” is the one that maximises what the team talent is. It’s always SECONDARY to talent. You get the talent, and then you devise the system to maximise that talent.”

            D-Rose may be a big part of Chicago’s relevance, but remember that he was there when the Bulls were missing or barely getting into the playoffs. Though he has since developed into one of the league’s best, his game and that of the overall team’s has benefitted greatly from the winning system that Coach Thibodeau’s eastablished during his tenure – a system that, among other things, strongly emphasizes team effort on defense and rebounding. D-Rose’s willingness to buy into this system has served him and his team well. Miami does not contend simply because of their big 3 – similar to Chicago, they appear to have committed themselves to playing championship-caliber defense. This much of their winning system they’ve mostly figured out, but they’re still lacking the establishment of their go-to guy. Can other guys come through for them in crunch time? On occasion, sure. But if no one guy is ever established and trusted consistently in that position and they, conseuqently, continue to have fourth quarter braincramps, then they’ll make it harder for themselves against the better defensive playoff teams. The Lakers had the triangle offense during their championship run, and their superstars an understanding of their roles within the system as a whole (i.e. Kobe was Batman, Gasol was Robin, etc). Without those things, they and Bynum are simply three very talented players limited in what they’re capable of in the postseason vs team’s who gameplan to neutralize their talents. So it was with the Celtics during their run – they didn’t have the triangle, but they played championship-caliber defense. They combined this with great ball movement/little regard for who shined offensively on a given night, and the result was a championship. You might win a boatload of regular season games with superstar talent alone (and even that’s less likely without a decent roadmap for said talent to follow), but, in the games that matter, the execution of a winning system is more valuable.

            Posted by Brandon Crockett | February 13, 2012, 10:16 pm
  17. Jourdan,

    Yes, I was referring to the garbled English. Your recent posts, while being a bit venomous, have been far more lucid. Thank you

    I do agree with the spirit of what you say; it is talent that carries the day.

    That being said, unfocused talent wins nothing. The talent has to be channeled and directed towards something, often this means that players will have to relinquish “gettin’ theirs” to trying to get others at least some touches.

    Miami almost won the title last year with garbage role players and without a clear understanding of how their offense was going to be filtered. Their play this year indicates that they have taken the first steps to correcting that. And, be warned, that this only the first steps; this team will likely get even better.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 1, 2012, 7:07 am
    • I would contend as a Heat fan and someone who has followed the Heat closely for years that it was Miami’s defense that let them down not their offense. Even though as you said it was pretty much unplanned and far too much hero ball at times, the Heat did a decent job with their offense most of the time. However in the finals for whatever reason their defense failed them. Game 2 is a perfect example. Up 15 with 7 minutes left at home and they couldn’t close it out. That changed the entire series. The great defense that shut down Chicago four games in a row vanished in that game. And had they just played their typical level of defense they would have won a title even without Lebron showing up in most of the games.

      Miami is getting better this year however and they have a much more complete team. When Lebron is attacking the basket Miami is a totally different team.

      I am not that worried about Miami getting past Chicago in the playoffs. I think that they will in 5 or 6 games.

      The team that maybe worries me is OKC just because they can match up well with Miami.

      Still this year its Miami’s to lose and having attended a number of Heat games this year I can feel the sense that it has to happen this year and that it will happen.

      I am not as worried as some others seem to be about Miami taking plays or even entire games off because I have seen what they can do when they are dialed in and focused. I am also not worried about the zone as much because Lebron and Wade are capable of splitting the zone if they keep attacking and Miami has a number of good 3 point shooters on the team now.

      The only thing that worries me is will the team play its game in the playoffs and not buy into playing how other teams want them to play. Even vs Chicago, Miami was getting to the rim and getting out and running after turnovers and rebounds. That is how they have to play in the playoffs because its a style that suits them. And Lebron needs to play like he played in Cleveland(I don’t buy into the talk of him quitting on games)..and if he does that then its up to Wade and Bosh to figure out how to adjust their games around that. And they will figure that out.

      Posted by nightbladehunter | February 1, 2012, 1:28 pm
      • Heat in 5 or 6 games?

        What… 3.5 games didn’t want any part of that?

        Posted by DODOO | February 2, 2012, 1:59 pm
      • Miami is wired quite differently. Their defense seems to be better when their offense is rolling, no matter how they claim that it’s the other way around. Once they start lighting up the score board, they also start playing tight defense.

        I honestly believe that they don’t have to over-invest in defense if they could just score well in half-court sets. Lebron needs to be really comfortable on the low block since that really improves their spacing – better driving lanes for Wade and better spots for their shooters.

        I still see them struggle against the zone. Isolation plays will not consistently bust zones, no matter how good a player is. They need better ball movement and outside shooting. I still think that a more disciplined variant of their “spread offense” would suit them…I honestly want to see them play the triangle.

        Agree with you that Miami should be the one to impose their game on the other team. I don’t think there’s a team that could match with their athleticism. I just wish that they’d capitalize on this.

        But I don’t agree that James should revert to his Cleveland ways and ask Wade and Bosh to adjust. Firstly, James is more intelligent, athletic, and versatile than Wade and Bosh. He has the more ability to change his game and adjust to the other two. Secondly, we all know that the Cleveland version of LBJ is severely flawed in the playoffs. LBJ couldn’t go to the rim whenever he wants to in the playoffs, not against an equally good team. Spurs shut him down. Boston and Magic too. His face-to-the-basket offense is too one-dimensional for good defenses. In crunch time, that offense grounds the ball movement to a halt.

        I am very certain that Miami will win if Lebron would be able adjust and embrace a back-to-the-basket offense. This allows him to literally overpower defenses while giving him a wider court vision. I honestly believe that their half-court offense will dramatically improve once Lebron gets comfortable with his post-up plays.

        Posted by Jourdan | February 13, 2012, 5:23 am
        • “LBJ couldn’t go to the rim whenever he wants to in the playoffs, not against an equally good team. Spurs shut him down. Boston and Magic too.”

          First of all, he destroyed the Magic. The Cavs not winning that series wasn’t a reflection of LBJ’s play, who had to carry a larger burden due to runningmates like Mo Williams disappearing in the series.

          Second, adjusted for opponent, LBJ has played well in the playoffs throughout his career. He creates more shots while having a slight drop in offensive efficiency. Has he played well in every series against good teams? No. Neither has anyone else, and every star has put up a handful of dud series against good teams, including the great Kobe Bryant.

          Once again, it all ultimately comes down to team effort.

          Posted by The Realist #2 | February 13, 2012, 8:33 am
        • He “struggled” if you can call the numbers he put up struggling(which I guess by his standards might be)because those teams were able to key on just him, Cleveland had very little in the way of real support so Lebron had to be aggressive night in and night out because he had no one else he could lean on. In Miami he has 2 other players(at least) that he can lean on. But he shouldn’t.

          When people say hes more of a Magic Johnson then a Michael Jorden I almost hear a sneer in their voice. As if Magic Johnson isn’t one of the greast players in history.

          Still I say that he needs to keep attacking like he did when Wade was hurt, when he and Bosh had to step their games up in order to pick up the slack. Even Wade understands this now based on what he said to Lebron. Its debateable if Wade understood this last season but I think its pretty clear that he does this year. If you have to say its someone’s team then its Lebron’s team first and Wade’s second. It has to be that way I think. They DO need to fit in around his style of play and they can. Wade is capable of making adjustments, he did when Shaq arrived and he can do so again now.

          Plus having Lebron attack the rim helps both Wade and Bosh, not to mention the shooters they have around them. I can’t count the number of times that I saw Lebron drive in to the rim, draw the defense in and then kick the ball out to an open player for a high % shot. He now has players around him that he can trust to make those shots. If Bosh is given open jumpers inside of 15 feet on a regular basis then Miami is going to score a lot of easy baskets. If Wade can sneak around to the weak side of the defense because they are focused on Lebron attacking the post then Miami is going to get a lot of easy dunks and layups. We have seen this work in a number of games, but Miami only does it in spots. Lebron goes in to post up, everyone falls in on him, he passes to Wade who drunks or lays the ball in. Miami needs not just better ball movement but better off the ball movement.

          Btw to jump into something said earlier, I think that firing up the crowd does matter. Otherwise how do you account for some teams playing far better at home then on the road?

          Posted by nightbladehunter | February 13, 2012, 1:13 pm
        • I feel satisfied seeing how Miami is playing very well with Lebron doing what he needs to do, which is to go more on the low block and work with his postup moves. I just wish he’d do the same when he encounters adversity like a scoring drought inside. Miami’s offense is a lot better with Lebron stays inside. Beautiful game at Milwaukee.

          Posted by Jourdan | February 14, 2012, 6:46 am
          • Wonderful 3 games in the back to back to back. This is how Miami needs to play all of the time. If they do that they will stroll into the NBA finals easily. No one can beat Miami when they are playing at this level.

            Posted by nightbladehunter | February 15, 2012, 6:59 am
          • And it’s because of Lebron addressing his game’s weakness! This enables Spoelstra to devise offensive schemes with Lebron at 4. Once again, better talent leads to better opportunities that any sane and able coach could maximise.

            Posted by Jourdan | February 16, 2012, 2:50 am
  18. Jourdan, for all your talk about necessary truths and the bloated sense of superiority you must feel now that you’re finally in front of a PC, you’ve still missed my ultimate point about who are and who aren’t superstars. As opposed to my use of the word “traits” earlier, better choices would’ve been “accolades” and “perks.” What you put down as the “definition” of a superstar are just accolades and perks that a superstar might possibly receive – you still haven’t defined what a superstar is or what he does. In summary: although your earlier post may reflect the consensus on the awards, recognition, benefit of the doubt, etc. that superstars are thought to deserve, it’s still not the consensus DEFINITION.

    You go on about talent, but the greatest of superstars aren’t recognized as being such simply because of their talent-level: they also lead their teams to victories. Are they all champions? No. Are they all the leading scorers on their teams? No, not all of them. Do they lead their teams in rebounds, steals, assists, etc.? Again, that depends on who you’re talking about. What the greatest of superstars all have in common, however, is that they help their team on some level, and they usually do so within good systems. The NBA is loaded with talent, and I’ll argue that there are more players capable of superstar-like achievements than you might think. Perhaps certain of these players feel that their talents are being suppressed or misused on a bad team, but the solution to this isn’t just surrounding them with better individual talent. Heck, without a good system already in place, surrounding them with better individual talent could FURTHER suppress what they’re able to do. True superstars thrive in a system that takes advantage of their greatest gifts while not allowing their teammates to become overly-reliant on them, or, in the case of the superstars, overly-reliant on themselves.

    Posted by Brandon Crockett | February 1, 2012, 2:30 pm
  19. @ Jourdan

    “What you put down as the “definition” of a superstar are just accolades and perks that a superstar might possibly receive – you still haven’t defined what a superstar is or what he does.”

    I should correct myself here, because you did say that “They generally consistently lead their teams, and likely the NBA in one or a few, and sometimes all major categories – points, assists, rebounds, blocks. Oh, and the top superstars also are also your perennial MVP candidates.” This was a bad oversight on my part, and I apologize. That said, EVERY team has guys leading them in scoring, assists, rebounds, steals, etc. Even those who lead the league (or rank near the top) in one or a few of these categories aren’t necessarily superstars – in fact, they could be specialists (great in one area, iffy in others)…or their inflated stats could be the product of a bad system, the focus of which is intensely on him and neglectful of his teammates. I’m not suggesting that this is most often the case, only that it isn’t the best indicator of one’s superstar-status. As for your point about the top superstars being perennial MVP candidates, would you argue that these players in the running for this are ALWAYS the most talented? For the most part, they may be – but I’ll argue that there are other players on lesser teams with as much or more individual talent than some of these candidates. That they aren’t considered for the award isn’t all due to talent: the players ahead of them probably benefit from the better talent surrounding them, and, more importantly, playing in a better system that brings out the best of their game in team basketball.

    Posted by Brandon Crockett | February 1, 2012, 6:46 pm
  20. Pippen was considered a superstar post Jordan, and he only his teams in assists twice.

    Pippen was the great benefactor of Jordan. Not that Pippen wasn’t great, but that physiologically, having Jordan around likely drove Pippen to become greater than he otherwise would have.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 1, 2012, 9:50 pm
    • he was an MVP of an allstar game once and he’s “considered a superstar” “post” Jordan.

      Makes ZERO sense.

      Posted by DODOO | February 2, 2012, 1:58 pm
      • Pippen was thought of at the time (1991-1999) to be one of the top 5 players in the NBA; that’s not a superstar?

        Further, I didn’t write that I considered Pippen as such.

        Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 2, 2012, 4:02 pm
    • Having Jordan around drove everyone to become greater then they would have otherwise. You think we would know who Steve Kerr is if it weren’t for Jordan?

      That is such a stupid comment to make because it means nothing. Pippen is one of the greatest players of all time.

      Posted by nightbladehunter | February 3, 2012, 10:39 pm
  21. Nice article, Mags. I agree with you in almost every aspect.

    Posted by Wally | February 2, 2012, 7:03 am
  22. RE: ANTI BILL SIMMONS:”Third, you say Kobe was playing with “a bunch of losers” but earlier you wrote that as soon as Pau showed up they began winning. So Pau turned losers into winners because of his leadership? Or could it be that the system worked better with a passing big like Pau?”

    #1. The roster was overhauled and starters were relegated to the bench or waived or traded.

    #2. Passing had nothing to do with outcome of the team, he’s not a point guard. His talent and a layer of skill, sans a point guard did.

    #3. Lamar Odom was a 15PPG player getting big minutes during the rebuilding phase of the Lakers and he went to the bench.

    #4. Aforementioned bench took mins away from Kobe and Fisher. Allowing the team to succeed because without Kobe they wouldn’t have been anywhere as successful.

    Posted by DODOO | February 2, 2012, 2:04 pm
    • Just had to add that Pau’s passing had a huge impact on the outcome of the team. He is a very underated passer, he’s not a point guard, but neither is anyone else on the team. The closest thing the Lakers had was Odom. The triangle that they used was built around Pau and Kobe posting up with cutters cutting and shooters spotting up. Pau, Kobe and Lamar together were the Lakers point guard.

      Posted by J | February 13, 2012, 12:40 pm
  23. I am glad that people have shut up about trading Wade. I still can’t quite believe that it was ever taken seriously by any of the media. I mean when Wade was hurt that was all the buzz on the local radio here and it was so stupid. Wade is showing why hes important to the team. Hes been playing unreal. Once again just shows that there is a lot more to basketball then stats.

    Posted by nightbladehunter | February 22, 2012, 1:21 pm

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