Dictionary.com: the state or condition of being equal, especially regarding status or pay
Merriam-Webster: the quality or state of being equal or equivalent.
Oxford: The state or condition of being equal, especially as regards status or pay.
Parity, a simple concept of equality. Parity has been an invaluable part of society for centuries. Because of parity’s prodigious presence, most have been taught to not settle or get too comfortable once they reach the top of their respective fields, as there is always someone else eager to claim the same title. The same holds true in professional sports.
Witnessing various franchises grind for an entire regular and postseason to earn the bragging rights and glory of being champions is why people tune in. It’s rewarding, as well as entertaining, to see the payoff of all the blood, sweat, and tears a team puts into a championship run. It typically requires so many sacrifices for a team to be crowned champions that a repeat or even three peat seems a bit far fetched. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case in the NBA, and I’m not exactly sure when, if ever, it’ll be that way again.
On the heels of two incredibly successful seasons in which they captured the NBA win-loss record at 73-9 as well as their franchise’s sixth championship, the Golden State Warriors added yet another All-NBA talent by way of ex-Pelicans star DeMarcus Cousins. The move, if executed as anticipated, absolutely shatters any chance of parity in the NBA this season. With the addition of Cousins, the Warriors can now roll out a full starting five consisting purely of 2018 all stars. In fact, every member of the Warriors new starting lineup has been selected to the ASG in each of the past three seasons. Simply put, this is the most dominant team ever assembled in a non-ASG format in the NBA that we have ever witnessed, and unlike other ‘superteams’ in the past, I don’t think there is an external way to stop Golden State.
The Golden Standard
I’ve seen a few, dare I say, optimistic(?) fans online claiming that things aren’t as bad as they may seem and that the Warriors can be beaten, pointing out how some other ‘superteams’ flamed out. I’d like to go on record and say I wholeheartedly disagree with that sentiment, and would like to point out how the Warriors differ from any ‘superteam’ we’ve ever seen.
‘04 Lakers- most of the beatable-superteam-chatter I’ve heard thus far is largely about the ‘04 Lakers. As you may know, the Lakers added NBA legends Karl Malone and Gary Payton to their talented duo of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. At the time, the move was viewed as destructive for the rest of the league, as the Lakers would surely dominate their way to a Finals victory. The issue with that logic, as well as the issue with comparing those moves to the Warriors, is simple- age. The Lakers weren’t adding a 27-year old DPOY Gary Payton to their roster, they were adding a 35 year old Gary Payton with just enough left in him to contribute what he could to a championship contender. In the same vein, LA did not acquire the same Karl Malone that was averaging 27 PPG as he carried the Jazz to the Finals. In reality, the Lakers acquired a 40 year old Karl Malone who was looking to attain the championship that eluded him his entire career. These moves are a far cry from the Warriors adding Kevin Durant following a 73 win season or the recent Boogie signing. The Lakers were trying to increase their chances of victory, the Warriors are completely wiping out their chances of failure.
The Warriors now boast a starting lineup consisting exclusively of players who are at least top 7 at their respective positions and are all 30 years old or younger. This is the new Golden Standard of championship caliber teams, and it casts a dark shadow over the league.
You want Philly Philly?
Despite it’s ominous presence in the NBA, the Warriors decisions will surprisingly shed a brighter light on Philadelphia pro sports, and make them an even bigger draw. Due to the lack of parity and unpredictability, many people have lost most, if not all, interest in the NBA, and that was before the Cousins signing. I’ve only seen that sentiment grow since the move and can’t help but imagine how it will effect the Philly-based sports teams.
Naturally, the first team I thought of upon hearing the news was the Sixers. The team just endured two huge blows by not being able to land either of prized stars LeBron James or Paul George. Despite this and their relatively quiet free agency thus far, the Sixers remain one of maybe three or four franchises that are a couple moves away from having a legitimate chance to at the very least compete with the Warriors if matched up. The Sixers boast two superstars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, a superstar to be in Markelle Fultz, and a couple diamonds in the rough in Dario Saric and Jonah Bolden. This magnifies the pressure on the franchise, and may even push them to get a bit more aggressive this offseason as teams try to load up to knock off Goliath. As Rockets GM Daryl Morey put it, in order to win the NBA Finals, you must first be “obsessed” with beating the Golden State Warriors- hopefully the Brett Brown-led Sixers heed his advice.
The second Philly franchise that came to mind was the Phillies. Given the current state of disdain for the NBA and the lack of pro sports currently in-season (in the U.S, that is) it’s reasonable to suggest that a lot of people will turn their attention towards the MLB- more specifically the MLB playoff race. The Phillies, as of this writing, own a winning record of 45-37 and sole possession of the second Wild Card slot. With more eyes on them going into the second half of the season, the young Phils will get to experience what it’s like to play when the stakes are high and the pressure is on. If successful through this stretch, the Phillies will help boost the value of Philadelphia’s sports market, which will come in handy when it comes time to recruit free agents. Win-win situation for the City of Brotherly Love.
Lastly, I thought of how the implosion of the NBA affects the reigning Super Bowl Champion Eagles. The NFL already boasts an incredibly large following, and often commanded more attention from the public in the autumn months than the NBA anyway, but this upcoming season may see the largest disparity in views yet. With most people tuning out the NBA regular season as another predictable season drags on, all eyes will be on the NFL and the Eagles title defense. Similarly to the Phillies, the Eagles could take advantage of the extra attention, and prove to the world that they are not a one-hit wonder and further establish themselves as an elite franchise in the NFL. The Eagles could also highlight the right way to repeat as champs if they are successful in retaining their title this season. Although the Eagles made some upgrades, they didn’t do anything that would destroy the credibility and parity of the sport, so they could serve as an example for their sibling league.
The Warriors have certainly made things awfully gloomy for basketball and sports fans alike, but if there is ever a city to provide a Silver Lining a nd potentially help resolve this issue, it’s Philadelphia.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports