NBA Power Shift is Pure Speculation

Steve O Speak

By Guest Blogger Rob Yunich:

All season, but especially lately with the trade of Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks, many throughout the sports world have bemoaned the fact that power in the NBA is shifting to those teams capable of assembling a group of superstars known as a “Big Three.” ESPN’s Mike and Mike, for example, think that the separation between the “haves” and “have-nots” is growing amongst the NBA’s 30 teams — especially with Dwayne Wade, Lebron James and Chris Bosh playing in Miami.

But, as is often the case in the sports world, style is outweighing substance on this issue. In fact, since the NBA was founded in 1946, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakes have captured 33 of the league’s 63 previous titles. The next closest team is the Chicago Bulls with six. Overall, 17 teams have won an NBA title — and many of them have done it with a “Big Three.”

Here are some other trios that come to mind: Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish (Celtics in the 1980s); Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen (modern Celtics); Magic Johnson, James Worthy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1980s Lakers); Michael Jordan, Scotty Pippen, Dennis Rodman (1990s Bulls); Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Robert Horry (San Antonio Spurs).

There have been plenty of “Big Two” pairings, include Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol with the current Lakers — and I didn’t even include David Robinson’s time in San Antonio. Even the great Arnold “Red” Auerbach assembled a “Big Three” from 1959-1969, when the Celtics won eight titles led by Bob Cousy, Bill Russell and Bill Sharman.

Famous trios aside, the other three major sports also follow similar patterns. Major League Baseball was founded in 1869 and has seen 22 different teams win the World Series. But the New York Yankees have captured 27 of those titles, far and away the most among the league’s 30 teams. In fact, only the St. Louis Cardinals (with 10) have even hit double-digits.

The National Hockey League, founded in 1917, has seen 17 champions — but 48 Stanley Cups have been skated by the Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs.

The National Football League is a bit trickier. The league was founded in 1920 but the first Super Bowl wasn’t played until 1967. In the modern era, 18 teams have won 45 Super Bowl titles — 16 by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers.

So, in essence, the NBA really isn’t different than any other league in this regard. They’ve got their dominant teams, their groupings of stars and, more or less, a fairly even playing field. Yes, the NBA is star-driven, but so are the other major sports leagues.

Although much was made when Wade, Bosh and James headed to South Beach, it was just another case of a sports franchise trying to keep up with the trend — one that dates back to the founding of nearly every professional sports league.

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