Superteams Are Nothing New

August 13, 2012

By Jonathan Gordon


Because of the recent trade involving Dwight Howard and the Lakers (and the earlier formation of the Big 3 in South Beach), many fans and media members have been up in arms regarding this ‘new idea of superteams.’


“That’s the way the league is evolving.” –Kobe Bryant on Big 3s


Kobe Bryant is wrong. As is the media. And the public, who wrongly listens to the wrong media. This notion of “Big 3s” is not a new trend. The NBA is not ‘changing’ and is not becoming a league of superteams. THE NBA HAS ALWAYS BEEN A LEAGUE OF SUPERTEAMS. The qualification for a superteam? (First off, according to spell-check, ‘superteam’ is not a real word. Well, just like Kobe Bryant, the media, and all NBA fans, spell-check is wrong. Superteam, for all purposes, is now a real word.) Back to the article. The qualification for a superteam? Simple.


superteam (n.)- any team consisting of 3, or more, All-Stars


Why? Simple. The best players in the league are All-Stars. (The data includes players who were picked, however did not play due to injury). It will start from 1976, when the league expanded to 22 franchises.


*In the last 36 years, there have been 45 superteams. 45 TEAMS HAD THREE OR MORE ALL STARS. DURING THE SAME YEAR. ON THE SAME TEAM.

*There have only been 10 years without a superteam. 6 of these came from 1999-2004 (the superduo-era of Shaq and Kobe).

*There have been 45 superteams in the last 36 years.

* 3 of the 45 had FOUR all-stars. (98 Lakers, 06 Pistons, 11 Celtics). FOUR ALL-STARS ON ONE TEAM. That’s almost the whole starting rotation. (None of them won the title.)

*1983, 84, 86, 87, and 90 each had THREE superteams. *Looking back at the last 36 years, there are 45 TEAMS WITH AT LEAST 3 ALL-STARS.



Here’s a table listing franchises and the number of years with a superteam. Number of superteam titles are listed in parenthesis.


Boston - 14 (5)         /    Denver - 1

Lakers - 8 (4)           /    Seattle - 1

Detroit - 5 (1)          /    Portland - 1

Philadelphia - 4 (1)  /     Golden State - 1

Phoenix - 3             /     Atlanta - 1

Houston - 2            /     Cleveland - 1

Miami - 2 (1)          /     Chicago - 1


This is not a new idea; this is not a new practice. Partly because of the increased media, and partly because of the inability to listen to one's grandparents tell stories of the good ol’ days, many have failed to recognize this is who the NBA has been, is, and will continue to be. A league filled with superstar teams. There is nothing wrong with this; great players attract other great players. Great players often make good players become great. However, there is much noise about the NBA becoming “ruined.” Inconceivable! The NBA is not driving down some dark, scary road that might ruin basketball and “parity”. Rather, it is dribbling down the same road it has taken for numerous decades.


The difference between then and now? The old teams DRAFTED their superteams. The old Celtics had a total of 7 all-stars that played on their various superteams. They drafted 5 of them (71%). The recent Celtics? 2 out of 4 (50%). This includes Rando, who was drafted by Phoenix, but immediately traded to Boston and has played his whole career there. The old Lakers? 6 for 9 (66.7%). The recent Heat? 1 for 3 (33.3%). However, not all is lost in today’s era. The OKC Thunder/Seattle Supersonics drafted all of Durant, Westbrook, and Hardin, and are well on their way to becoming a superteam. The new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is attempting to “fix” this problem of Big 3s so that smaller markets can compete. A better solution? DRAFT BETTER.


Whether through the draft, free agent signing, or trades, there have always been superteams in the NBA. You can’t know where you are, or where you’re going, without knowing where you’ve been.