Teams align themselves for superstar unification. They spend years trashing their rosters for a shot at the blue chips: the Chris Pauls, the Lebron James‘, the Carmelo Anthonys. And yet, we now have enough data on the recent phenomenon to say with confidence that unifying superstars does not a championship bring, and it would appear that it doesn’t even make you a better team.
Up until this last week, the Knicks have been an embarrassment on an historic level. You would think it would be impossible for them NOT to win games with Carmelo and Amare out there on the court together. And yet, there they’ve been, losing and losing and losing their way to the bottom of the league. To put it in perspective, there was a time–pre Jeremy Lin–when the Knicks were no better than the Nets. Then, THEN, their two breadwinners hit the deck, and they pick up someone from basically right off the street, plug him into the lineup, and the Knicks become a well oiled machine.
If there is anything we should take from the last two NBA seasons, it is a markedly lesser appreciation for the so-called studs of the league. They may fly high, dump in points, wear the flashy gear, and throw the ball down into the hoop, calling it a dunk instead of what it really is: a very violent layup, but at the end of the day, they ain’t winnin’. Jeremy Lin, Iman Shumpert, and Steve Novak have effectively done in three games what the Knicks trashed their own franchise and fans for years to do by clearing room to bring in two max players. It’s an absolute disgrace, and should be a warning to all other franchises who are self mutilating their rosters to make room for Dwight Howard. Beware: you might actually get worse. And ironically, it’s the former teams that come out of it ahead.
While the Knicks wallow in Melo-Misery, the Denver Nuggets are a dark horse title contender. While the New Jersey Nets sit on the dark, damp, cold concrete of the NBA Cellar, the Utah Jazz are surprisingly above .500–albeit only for the time being–and appear to have a much brighter future than those who are Brooklyn bound. The Cavaliers just beat the freakin’ Clippers for crying out loud, and without Kyrie Irving. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin against Ramon Sessions and 75-year-old Antawn Jamison? Are you kidding me? The only team that looks worse for wear is New Orleans. But really, would we ever expect the league-owned Hornets to be anything but a complete mess?
The verdict is in. Apparently a D-League Harvard grad can step onto the court and show up your superstar unification at any given moment. You can’t buy a championship in this league, and it appears you can’t really even buy a couple extra wins. Miami may win a championship, but “Star Alignment” should rightfully be going out of style.