Assoc. Sports Editor
The beginning of the end is here.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) has reportedly given permission to the Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets to put nicknames on the back of their jerseys in at least one of four matchups against each other this upcoming season. So, you can kiss James, Allen, Pierce and Garnett goodbye, and welcome King James, Jesus Shuttlesworth, The Truth, and KG to the shoulders of Heat and Nets players.
By incorporating this idea on the court, the NBA, which has been stuffed with more ego, artificiality and pomposity than ever before, has sunk to a new low.
Ever since 2010, when the “Big 3” in Dwayne Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh came together, the NBA has turned from a competitive league with heated rivalries and team-players to a star-driven league with 30 wannabe New York Yankees, striving to get the next cluster of All-Stars out of free agency.
In the past three years, we’ve seen the top players in the league run around like a chicken with its head cut off, thanks to other teams trying to mimic Miami’s talented trio.
Carmelo Anthony linked hands with Amar’e Stoudemire and, a year later, Tyson Chandler on the New York Knicks.
In 2011, Chris Paul jumped on the Los Angeles Clippers’ bandwagon where Blake Griffin was also hitching a ride. The Los Angeles Lakers fired back the next year with their addition of the South African-born Steve Nash, who would be playing the 2012-13 season with Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and future Hall-of-Famer Kobe Bryant.
This offseason, the Houston Rockets added Howard to an already formidable duo of James Harden and “Linsanity”-initiator Jeremy Lin. Also, former Pennsylvanian Andre Iguodala joined forces with Stephen Curry and the under-rated David Lee to reinvigorate the Golden State Warriors’ franchise. Last but not least, the Nets shocked the NBA in acquiring veterans Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry, who accompanied their already star-studded roster consisting of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez.
Although this is nothing new – the Boston Celtics were the first ones to do it in 2007 with Pierce, Garnett, and Allen, currently playing for the Heat– this trend of collecting a group of gifted basketball players like a kid would collect beanie-babies is becoming far too ubiquitous. With all this commotion about scrounging up a mini-All-Star team to galvanize a possible championship, it is leading the NBA to lose its overall substance and reputation.
Is it enjoyable to watch? When Bosh and company aren’t flopping for a hopeful foul call, complaining to a referee instead of hustling back on defense, or not exerting the effort because of the chances of breaking a nail – okay… maybe that was a slight exaggeration – sure it is.
But, with its tunneled spotlight on the few stars in the league, basketball has become an unfair, one-sided game, where the mediocre players without an impressive moniker like “King James” are shoved to a dark, unappreciated corner.