Did The Dream Team Ruin The NBA?

NBA.com

Courtesy: NBA.com

They were pledge masters hazing the first class in a new, global fraternity of ballers.  Each alley oop… each monster rejection… each 50 point drubbing was another smack from the paddle.  And after each whack, their pledges smiled and said “thank you sir, may I have another?”  The 1992 Dream Team dished out every form of basketball abuse… and the pledges smiled and told everyone “no… I wanted to do this.”

The pledges have been full-fledged members of the fraternity for a while now (see: our lack of gold medals).  But the only threat they have posed to us so far is a frustrating ability to perplex our guys with trapezoid lanes, lack of offensive goaltending, and soccer futbol-esque intensity and teamwork.  However, this summer is different.  The summer of 2008 might be the summer we realized that the Dream Team set into motion a chain of events that ultimately will ruin the NBA.

I’ll admit, there’s a little bit of hyperbole infused in this argument.  However, this summer could bring us not one, but two players choosing to go for the money overseas, rather than wait for it here at home.  Brandon Jennings has chosen Europe over a one-and-done stint at Arizona.  And now Josh Childress is considering a 3 year, $20 million offer from Greece’s Olympiakos.  Childress doesn’t even have to take the deal.  The damage is done.

The Dream Team is heralded as a sort of “Johnny Appleseed” of pro hoops.  What they did in Barcelona was plant the seed for NBA-level basketball around the world.  They have been applauded for it… and rightly so.  We now have guys like Dirk Nowitzki and Tony Parker because of what those guys did.  But bringing them high-quality basketball also brought them fans who yearn for high quality basketball.  As those teams got better, their fan bases grew bigger.  And in some countries, like Greece, basketball is now as popular as soccer.  With that level of fanaticism about their teams, comes fanatic-level spending.  And with that, comes the ability to offer someone like Childress $20 million.

Olympiakos is not alone.  There are a few teams in Greece that have rabid fan bases.  And then there are teams in Italy, Germany, Spain and France.  Throw in the fact that right now, $20 million US is really somewhere in the $12-$13 million range because of the devalued dollar… and we’re facing the perfect storm for Euro teams looking to cherry pick our mid-level talent.

There are exciting players right now fighting over $4 or $5 million chunks of some team’s MLE.  Guys like J.R. Smith have a ton of talent… but could be missing out on any real money for any number of reasons (mostly because almost everyone is over the cap).  Why should Smith sit around and wait for an offer that he doesn’t like when he can get twice is much to play half as many games in a country that will treat him like a God… AND… give him an out so he could come back to the NBA in a year or two?  And who’s to say that when (insert mid-level player name here) gets to Greece, or Italy, or Spain that he won’t fall in love with spending off days at some of the most pristine spots on earth?  Isn’t that why guys like to play in places like LA and Miami? 

The Dream Team’s effect is more than just Dirk contending for MVP’s or guys named Gallinari, Milicic and Bargnani being grabbed in the lottery.  It’s now about them taking OUR players.  The NBA’s days as the premier league in the world may be numbered… and we’d have the original Dream Team, made up of some of the best the NBA has ever had to offer, to thank for it.

Celtics 247 has found a rumor that the C’s are trying to acquire Trevor Ariza.  Jess Camerato thinks Devean George might be a Celtic.  One thing is for sure, Matt Barnes won’t be.  He’s going to the Suns.  And Gerald Green continues to dominate summer basketball.

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10 Responses

  1. I agree totally John. I’ve had thoughts like this for a long time, but you put it on ‘paper’ much better than I could have.

  2. Great discussion piece! I have been dancing around this for a little while now in discussions with some of my friends and colleagues.

    At the end of the day I think the NBA will prevail because of the marketing machine behind it. That being said it may still be wise for the league to one day have NBA franchises in other countries besides Canada. China, Italy, Germany, France and others come to mind.

    The NBA could one day easily become a global brand, a global league.

    Good post man!

    Be EZ

  3. Wow your on it, Nachbar has agreed to a three-year contract with Dynamo Moscow, a deal that will pay the former New Jersey Nets small forward $14.3 million, he told ESPN.com early Monday.

  4. Nice work. Similar could be said for guys that came here and decided to actually go back like JCN…

  5. Not sure I follow your logic on this one.

    You are saying that more playgrounds will ultimately bring less talent to the NBA?

    Sure players are going to go for money (Posey) but today the NBA is the preeminent league in the world of basketball. The Euro leagues and such will continue to get better, but I only see that as raising the level of competition world wide.

    I know the easy argument is to correlate what expansion did to water down the league. But the NBA expanded with American talent only. The game growing so much globally will not just take more American talent out, but will bring in so much more international talent in.

    I think this is all fantastically exciting.

  6. I’m not sure how it’s all going to go… but the road I’m going down here is that the other leagues around the world are catching up to the NBA in terms of money they can offer. So there are more playgrounds… yes. But there will be more options for a player who wants a big payday and a big stage. The NBA won’t be the only game around. The top Euro players might stay in Europe… and some of the mid-level guys might take more to go overseas, rather than sit around while 28 capped-out teams all offer you essentially the same thing.

  7. […] other #33 I smell a trade Celtics 17 Filling six spots: Three down, three to go Red’s Army Did the Dream Team ruin the NBA? Bleacher Report In depth Q&A with Joe Abunassar SI.com Congress may get involved in Donaghy […]

  8. […] fascinated at how the Josh Childress/Brandon Jennings situation will affect the NBA.  I took a slightly negative slant recently… TrueHoop says its a good thing.  I think it might be a little of […]

  9. I like that you intimated that Los Angeles was one of the most pristine places on Earth. You mean the same yawn cavern of smog-smothered soullessness that was recently rated as America’s most polluted city? Maybe the NBA’s Chinese League can run a franchise in Linfen for people who like that kind of “pristine”.

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