Summer 2010’s free agency and the recent NBA trade deadline have redefined the NBA.
In all likelihood, there will be no more Michael Jordans. There will be no more John Stocktons. There will be no more Reggie Millers. There will be no more Magic Johnsons or Larry Birds. The simple fact of the matter is that players spending their entire career in one city and trying to carry their team to championships just isn’t how things are done anymore. Kobe Bryant is a dying breed, and Kobe may end up being the last of his kind.
When Boston Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge managed to pull off trades to bring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to Boston to team with Paul Pierce before the start of the 2007-08 NBA season, the landscape of the league and the way championships were won was changed forever. At the time, we viewed the trades as exciting and thought of them as something really never seen before. The “Boston Three Party” was fun and in a way unique. The trio even captured a championship in its first year together.
The result, however, may have been devastating for the old NBA. Players like LeBron James saw that championship and realized the easiest way to get there wasn’t by being the best individual to carry a team on your shoulders, but to team up with other stars. Instead of climbing the mountain to glory, players are now looking for a quick helicopter ride to the peak.
The old guard of the NBA will and have asked where’s the glory and conquest in that? Others, however, argue this is the way things have always been done. After all, Michael had Scottie, Magic had Kareem, Kobe had Shaq (or did Shaq have Kobe?) and heck, even Bill Russell had Bob Cousy and John Havlicek.
While that argument is compelling, we’ve never quite before seen stars willing to essentially turn their back on the city and franchise that drafted them with such audacity in the prime of their careers for a quicker shot at a title.
With Carmelo Anthony essentially forcing a trade to the New York Knicks and Deron Williams being sent to the New Jersey Nets, the recent trade deadline did nothing but confirm the new era of the NBA. Williams was supposed to be Stockton’s successor in Utah, but unlike Stockton, who was loyal to the Jazz and the citizens of Salt Lake City throughout his 19-year NBA career, there were already rumblings of Williams wanting out of Utah. There were rumors he could possibly join Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire in New York via 2012 free agency. The Jazz front office took a preemptive strike to get the most out of Williams before he went to a star-studded cast in free agency to try and catch his own cushy helicopter ride to the top.