LeBron James(notes) has embraced the villain role in a most unprecedented way, pushing away from his peers and aligning himself with David Stern, Dan Gilbert and the owners desperate to destroy the Players Association. He left the sport stunned on Christmas Eve, searching for an understanding of why he would go so far to undermine the union on the cusp of an apocalyptic collective bargaining brawl.
James advocated contraction of teams, the loss of jobs and furthered the make-believe revision that the 1980s had a deeper pool of talent with fewer teams. “Watered down,” he called the NBA, and ownership has been gifted such a public-relations coup in its historic campaign to crush the players’ union.
Now here's where Adrian gets it wrong about 80s NBA in an effort to embarass James:
The 1980s were a romantic time in the sport, a golden era, but there weren’t more deeper, more talented teams in existence than today. It isn’t even close. The Lakers and Celtics were fantastic then, but they would have a hard time beating these Lakers and Celtics teams. Never mind the level of teams trying to beat San Antonio, Dallas, Chicago, Utah and on and on.
And how about the Spurs dynasty, whose eclectic, international roster couldn’t have existed in the 1980s? San Antonio illustrates why the NBA has a much deeper talent pool now, and that’s because of the influx of international players in the game. There are reasons to love the ’80s over today’s game, but that has more to do with the competitive disdain the teams had, the way the Celtics and Lakers, the Pistons and 76ers, hated each other. For James to insist the NBA should do away with the Minnesota Timberwolves and New Jersey Nets so contenders could have Kevin Love(notes) or Devin Harris(notes) is preposterous.
1) The Lakers and Celtics during Bird and Magic's time were one of the deepest teams in NBA history. The Lakers team in 87-88 had four players drafted #1 overall (Magic, Jabbar, Worthy, Mychal Thompson). The 86 Celtics had 5 Hall of Famers in its squad (Bird, McHale, Parish, DJ, Walton). Each team had talented supporting casts that were former All-Stars or would have been starters if they played for other teams. Nowadays, you couldn't get all these elite players in their prime to play for one team because of the salary cap.
2) Sure, there's a deeper pool of talent because of international players. But that is offset by: a) by expansion from 23 teams in 80s to 30 teams in 2010. b) American players are just not that skilled anymore in terms of shooting, back to the basket post plays, or bball IQ and fundamentals.