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Super teams in the NBA have existed for a long time, but they weren’t publicized or ostracized like they are today. Back in the old days, you had Big Three teams everywhere. But now for the first time in what seems like a long time, the NBA doesn’t have a real super team anymore.
It all started with the Los Angeles Lakers back in the late 60’s and early 70’s when Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor and Jerry West all played on the same team together. The three Hall-of-Famers went to three NBA Finals together in four years, but only won one of them.
Later on, the Lakers had another Big Three with Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy. Those three Hall-of-Famers played six seasons together, made it to five NBA Finals and won three of them. Each of them won a Finals MVP award, showing balance and depth. They were viewed as one of the best teams in the 80’s.
At the same time, you had another Big Three in Boston, with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish. Everyone knows how special Bird was, but without McHale and Parish, the Celtics wouldn’t have stood a chance against the Lakers.
Together, all three of them played together from 1981 to 1992 and never missed the playoffs. They won three NBA Finals and Bird won three straight NBA MVPs from 1983-86. Back then, it was all about the Lakers and the Celtics and the super team rivalry.
Then in the 1990s, the Chicago Bulls formed a super team with arguably the greatest basketball player of all time at the center. Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman formed the next Big Three of the NBA.
Although the three of them only played three seasons together, they won an NBA Finals each time. No one could compete with them during that time.
Then in the 2000’s, we had two Big Three teams. There was the San Antonio Spurs with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, in their prime from 2002 to 2015. The trio won four NBA Finals together and made the playoffs every single year together. Kawhi Leonard joined the squad later on and helped them win another NBA Finals in 2014.
The other Big Three team was the Boston Celtics being reignited with Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. The trio brought a lot of hype in their first season together, winning 66 games and beating the Los Angeles Lakers for the NBA championship.
Then the Big Three concept really took off when all-star LeBron James made the big decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers and go to the Miami Heat to play with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. The move was met with tons of controversy, which is strange, because multiple teams have done the exact same thing in the past. However, people questioned James’ loyalty and accused him of “cheating” his way to an NBA Finals.
The Big Three in Miami went to four straight NBA Finals together and won two of them. Both James and Bosh won their first ever NBA Finals as players.
Ever since James made that big decision, the NBA has been obsessed with creating super teams. The Golden State Warriors were a prime example of this. Despite winning the NBA Finals in 2015, the Warriors added all-star Kevin Durant to their roster in 2017.
Since then, Golden State has dominated with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Durant leading the charge. They won back-to-back NBA Finals in 2017 and 2018 with Durant winning the Finals MVP both times.
Suddenly, the dynasty came to an end this past season with the Toronto Raptors defeating the injured and battered Warriors in the NBA Finals, thanks to Kawhi Leonard.
Now everything has changed. Leonard and Paul George have joined the Los Angeles Clippers. Russell Westbrook left Oklahoma City to rejoin former teammate James Harden in Houston. At the same time, Chris Paul was traded to the Thunder to replace Westbrook.
No team in the NBA has a legitimate Big Three right now. You could argue that the Brooklyn Nets are the favorite with Durant, Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan. That’s the closest we have to a Big Three in the NBA.
The Celtics have added Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter. The 76ers added Al Horford to team up with Joel Embiid. The Los Angeles Lakers have James, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, which potentially could be a good enough Big Three to go up against the Nets. There’s also the Utah Jazz with the underrated Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic.
The Golden State’s dynasty might not be over yet. Even though they lost Durant, Cousins and Iguodala, they added D’Angelo Russell and Willie Cauley-Stein. That might be enough to keep them competitive in the deep roster of the Western Conference.
You also have young and upcoming teams like the New Orleans Pelicans with No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson, plus former Lakers Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram. You also have the New York Knicks, who drafted R.J. Barrett and added Julius Randle in free agency.
I personally think all of these offseason moves are good for the NBA. There’s no super team, which means the NBA isn’t predictable anymore. The Toronto Raptors changed how we view NBA teams. We will wait and see what the 2019-20 NBA season will have for us.