It seems like a strange time to for everyone to realize that the NBA has a serious competitive balance problem. After DeMarcus Cousins joined the Golden State Warriors last night, you’d think he was Wilt Chamberlain in his prime by the way people started to bash the NBA for being rigged.
Meanwhile, nobody noticed that the same team has dominated the league for four straight seasons. It’s like everyone forgot the Warriors have been a superteam for almost five years now, and that Boogie won’t actually don his Golden State uniform until his Achilles fully heals (which could be 60+ games) – but for some reason this was the signing that really pushed people over the edge.
I don’t remember anything close to this type of reaction when the Warriors signed Kevin Durant, or when they went 17-1 in the 2016 postseason, or even when they swept the best player in the world in the Finals. But an injured DeMarcus Cousins rounding out a full team of All-Stars really struck a nerve. I just hope everyone realizes that Golden State would probably sweep the Finals again next season even without Boogie, and that the NBA was wrecked way before he took his talents to the Bay Area.
Look, I’m not going to lecture you on how everything the Warriors have done is entirely legal, or try to convince you that they’ll somehow become a worse team with a big-man like Cousins, or even argue that anybody in the league can stop them from three-peating next season. The NBA is no longer entertaining and I’ve been on board with that idea since the Warriors swept their way through the 2016 postseason on a snoozefest that rivaled the entertainment level of its WNBA counterpart. Competition is the foundation upon which all sports are built, and the Warriors destroyed every shred of competition by signing Kevin Durant. But it’s not Durant’s fault, and the same goes for Boogie.
Don’t hate Cousins or Durant for ruining the league by signing with the Warriors. Call them snakes or cop-outs or frauds for taking the easy way out – I can at least understand that argument – but it shouldn’t be their responsibility to make the league a competitive environment.
When Tom Brady gets paid less than Blake Bortles to spread the wealth around his entire team and win more Super Bowls, he’s a selfless teammate who sacrifices his hard-earned paychecks to win championships. But when Cousins or Durant passes up on a huge payday to win titles with the Warriors, they’re quitters who are selfishly destroying their league’s competitive balance. Look, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to win championships, but it should be the league’s job to facilitate the salary cap to ensure that it doesn’t get out of hand.
The Warriors wouldn’t be a superteam at all if the league had agreed to incrementally raising the salary cap instead of instantly bumping it by almost $20 million in 2016, which allowed them to sign Kevin Durant. And Cousins couldn’t even sign with the Warriors if the league didn’t own a mid-level exception policy that was designed for championship teams to surround their core with role players. Golden State has made a complete mockery of the league’s salary cap rules, and that’s no fault of them simply trying to compete or of players they signed. Their success is the result of flaws and loopholes in the system, and it’s bound to continue as long as the league has talented players who want to win championships in their primes.
So if the gut reaction is to boycott watching next year’s Finals because of DeMarcus Cousins, rethink your logic and try to understand that the NBA hasn’t been competitive long before Cousins joined the Warriors.
Image credit to postsumo.com