The way the NBA is changing now is something I’ve worried all season and I’m glad an NBA owner has shared his concerns publicly because they mirror mine. Indiana Pacers owner Herb Simon told Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star that he worries that the new “superteam” trend in the NBA will affect how his team and many other teams in markets like Indianapolis will compete in seasons to come.
“I’m a little concerned about the gravitation away from the smaller teams,” Simon said. “If Green Bay can win (an NFL) championship with 100,000 population, then we should be able to win a championship, too.”
I agree with Simon here. Green Bay has the smallest population of any non-suburb city that has a professional sports franchise (101,025 as of 2008) and they are currently the champions of the NFL and were favored among Vegas oddmakers and many fans throughout the country to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV. It’s apparent that the NFL embraces it’s small market teams with cities like Indianapolis, New Orleans, and Tampa Bay enjoying Super Bowl success over the last decade. This is why that league matters more than any other in this country.
The NBA appears to be the opposite of this. Players only want to go to places like New York,Chicago, Miami, or Los Angeles simply because they are glamour markets and while its their decision come free-agent time to go wherever they would like for thebest chance to win, smaller markets are grasping for a superstar to embrace and call their own. With seven or eight teams that can truly go deep in the playoffs and have a chance, what can fans in places like Indianapolis, Oakland, Memphis, Milwaukee,or Minneapolis truly hope for? Their hope is to be the next Oklahoma City Thunder,a team that bit the dust only to rise again through the draft with players like Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. Not every team is lucky like that, especially now.
David Stern and the NBA need to realize that there are 22 other teams in the league and that in the long run, those teams not only have to matter but that they are vital to the league’s success. Sure it may be great for the league that the Miami Heat is signing everyone who’s been bought out of their contracts by bottom feeders, but it’s not great for fans in cities who have nothing to cheer for and no reason to spend their hard earned money to see a game.
Tony Kornheiser suggested the NBA have a franchise tag much like the NFL to keep potential free agents from leaving so soon, this way a team can get an opportunity to lock a player up so that the Heat,Knicks,Lakers,and Bulls don’t get their first.
Not a bad idea if you ask me, it would change the whole landscape of the league more than likely for the better and would be a start to give the smaller markets more of a chance to compete.