It is often said that the National Football League is a copycat league, where teams use the formula of success of the championship team and try to implement it into their own organization. But this isn’t just true in the NFL, as we see it in all professional sports today.
When Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots used a 3-4 defense to help build a dynasty, we saw many teams over the next few years switch their own defense, many thinking that it was a quick fix to some of their struggling defenses (Belichick is back to a 4-3 now).
In Major League Baseball, Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane was the innovator, using what is now known as “Moneyball” to change the way players are looked at. Beane figured out what stats should be valued over others, and built a system that almost every team in the MLB currently uses in their own variations.
In the National Hockey League, the shift has begun from high priced goalies, to a strong defensive core.
And then we move into the NBA. It started years ago, when the Boston Celtics put together the “Big 3”. While already having Paul Pierce on their roster, they added guard Ray Allen and forward Kevin Garnett, a formula that helped them build a dynasty of their own.
So now we sit here, looking at the final year or two of what was once know as the Big 3, and we see a league that is becoming full of teams searching for their own big 3. Part of it is because commissioner David Stern has lost much of the power he once had. Players are starting to dictate where they want to go a year, or even two years, before their even set to hit free agency.
It started last offseason, when LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwayne Wade in “south beach”, and getting to the NBA finals before losing the the Dallas Mavericks. This season, we saw the Lakers attempt to join Chris Paul with Kobe Bryant, and rumors of Dwight Howard wanting to head to LA next season. A trade to the Lakers was blocked by Stern, and Paul ended up in LA with the Clippers with Blake Griffin.
The next few seasons will change the landscape of the NBA in the future. Before, teams would often be able to hold on to their superstars, as they were established in a city, often looked at as the “face” of the city they were in. Now, teams and cities are losing their “faces”, and they are often talking about it long before they’re gone.
David Stern has created a monster he seems to want to control, but the problem is he has already lost control of what he once had. This is what the NBA is, and as teams see it as the only way to compete in the future, I don’t see Stern regaining control any time soon. It’s no longer Stern’s world, its now the players’ world, and Stern just lives in it.