The NBA is thriving despite top heavy teams

Kevin Durant was the latest star player to partner with elite forces in the Summer of 2016. The 73-win Golden State Warriors saw a once in a lifetime opportunity. The NBA’s Salary Cap jumped about $24 million dollars in last summer due to the sudden increase of the Salary Cap from the TV revenue distribution in Collective Bargaining Agreement signed in 2011.

Today, Durant is a Finals MVP and NBA Champion. Has a nice ring to it huh?

The Warriors won 67 games this season even though he sat out for 19 of them and the Warriors still managed to win 14 games in a row during that span. The Western Conference certainly is a Golden State Era.

Out in the Eastern Conference, a King holds his throne with a now 3-5 record in the NBA Finals, a place he’s been to 7 straight times. He currently is joined by two All-Star caliber players in Kyrie Irving and Klay Thompson. Both of these teams have met in the NBA Finals three years in a row, advantage Golden State with a 2-1 record. Both teams swept through their first and second round series in the 2017 NBA Playoffs. The Warriors were on the brink of history by nearly going 16-0 in the postseason before Cleveland ruined that in Game 5.

LeBron James called the Warriors a “juggernaut” and there is no end in sight for that super team with four All-Stars as they have just entered their prime of their careers. The Cavaliers as a two seed toppled the number one seed Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals this postseason. What was considered as a rubber match has the potential to turn into a near a decade of dominance from Cleveland and Golden State.

The NBA has peaked an all-time high of interest with the super team and the legacy of LeBron James chasing Michael Jordan’s. A global market that grows year after year has helped the NBA reach new heights on their viewership. The blowouts and the noncompetitive notion that the NBA may have can be disputed as the viewer ratings say otherwise.

Fans are tuning in to watch the Super Warriors. It’s must watch TV. Take this for data.

Keep in mind that this is just a count of television viewership. In today’s world, people are streaming this on tablets, smartphones, and computers. That’s not to say the NBA may struggle with a parity issue but audiences are tuning in nonetheless.

There is young talent in the NBA that needs time to be developed or perhaps you can strike gold like the Warriors and draft precisely. This would be one’s hope, who are against super teams, to pray for the emergence of another contender. From a business perspective, the NBA has no complaints. Four of the top five jerseys sold this year belonged to either a Cavaliers or Warriors player. Stephen Curry led all players with most jerseys sold followed by Lebron James at number two. Durant’s new Warrior jersey finished in the third spot.

Based on this alone you could say the focus is primarily on the two heavyweight teams in the NBA but again, this is what is bringing more people to watch the game of basketball. Is it bad basketball? The prolific three-point baskets and flashy dribble moves from Curry amaze even the casual fan. Never before in the NBA has there been a team that is equipped to shoot the three-point like this team.

People are watching but are people going to the games? The Warriors sold two court side tickets for Game 5 at $133K. That’s pretty outrageous if you’re the common American even living comfortable right? That’s just the icining on the cake for the league. Well the NBA set an all-time regular-season record for attendance for a third consecutive season.

Highest Total NBA Regular-Season Attendances All-Time
2016-17 … 21,997,412
2015-16 … 21,972,129
2014-15 … 21,926,548
2006-07 … 21,841,480
2005-06 … 21,595,804

Highest Average NBA Regular-Season Attendances All-Time
2016-17 … 17,884
2015-16 … 17,864
2014-15 … 17,826
2006-07 … 17,757
2005-06 … 17,558

People are watching but they are also showing up to watch. This summer for the NBA will be intriguing. Kyle Lowry, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Gordon Hayward, Serge Ibaka, and Paul Millsap are a few key free agents who could help boost a team to the contending level. The Warriors are flexing a new level of dominance in the NBA that will have a domino effect on the rest of the league. Not a fan of super teams? The NBA may not be for you in the coming years as this off-season could finally break your hope for more parity.

Those begging for more parity might need a quick history lesson. The 1980’s featured the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals as the number one seed in the Western Conference seven times.  Out of those seven times, the Lakers would be crown champions five times. In the same 1980’s the Boston Celtics went to five NBA Finals and were successful three times in winning the championship.

In the 1990’s six of the years were dominated by Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. The Houston Rockets would win back-to-back championships while the Pistons opened up the decade with a championship in 1990. The entrance to the early 2000’s was the start of a Spurs dynasty in 1999 as Tim Duncan started his career off with an NBA Championship. Following that Kobe and Shaq tree-peated as Kobe went on to win two more in the late 2000’s with the Lakers.

See, historically the NBA has never seen parity even with the growth of franchises. However, it is now a circle of sharing the wealth and producing a dynasty in places never imagined years ago. Cleveland was never a successful franchise before Lebron James. The Miami Heat never tasted an NBA Finals before Dwyane Wade and the help from Shaq. The San Antonio Spurs never knew what a title was until Tim Duncan joined them in 1999 to start a dynasty. The Golden State Warriors never dominated an era in basketball prior to present day. Their first championship after the NBA/BAA merger was in 1956 and their second was in 1975.

Granted some of these teams gained success from draft picks, free agency, and the formation of All-Stars in one city. Keep in mind it happened outside of the Boston, Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago markets that supposedly, only could attract top tier players. Cleveland and Golden State happen to be the next two in line that reaps the success of star power. A bit of luck, drafting the steal of a draft, or having the power to lure in star players in the free agency are the main paths to quick success. Perhaps NBA GMs and front offices aren’t seeing the light? Build a team to last a decade not to win in the moment?