Every professional sports league aims for parity, where all teams have a fair chance to compete for a championship. The NBA is no different, and one complaint about its product in recent seasons has been a feeling that the outcome of the NBA Finals already is decided due to the dominance of the Golden State Warriors.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver was asked Saturday at NBA All-Star Weekend in Charlotte about improving the competitive balance of the league, and he brought up the NFL, which has done a great job of creating parity. He made a great point about the league being competitive even though the New England Patriots have won a third of the Super Bowls in the last 18 years.
"... I don't think success necessarily means that a different team wins the championship every year," Silver told reporters. "I mean, I look at the NFL, which among sports leagues, probably has the best parity and the best system in terms of creating competition than any league I'm familiar with, yet the New England Patriots have been in the Super Bowl nine out of the last 18 years. And I don't think anyone points to that as a sign that the system isn't necessarily working. I think what people recognize is you want parity of opportunity, but you don't want to artificially create competition that somehow takes away incentives for teams to be great.
"So I think in the case of the NBA, I'm pleased with what I'm seeing, but I know, and certainly many of the people in this room have written, about issues that remain in the league, that you still find situations where teams seem to be uncompetitive. Maybe either by choice, because they think they're better off rebuilding and seeking high draft picks, or they feel that they can't afford, based on other teams being high into the tax, to compete on a level playing field.
"So from where we came historically as a league -- remember, this is a league where, if you look at the last, I think, 11 years, we've had seven different teams win championships. But if you look back to the first 60 years of this league, I think three teams - the Lakers, Celtics, and the Bulls - won 60 percent of all championships."
The Patriots have won six of the last 18 Super Bowl titles, but that doesn't mean the NFL hasn't been competitive over that span. More than half of the 32 NFL teams have played in the Super Bowl since the Patriots' dynasty began in the 2001 season. In the NBA, 13 of 15 Eastern Conference teams have reached one or more conference finals since 2000. The Western Conference also has seen 13 different teams make the conference finals since 2000. Eight franchises have won an NBA title since 2000, compared to seven in 20 years before the new millennium.
Parity isn't all about new champions, as Silver noted, it's about creating a system where any team can turn things around in a given season and be competitive. The NBA, for all the criticism it takes for allegedly not being competitive, actually has a decent amount of parity. It's really up to the individual teams to make smarter decisions in regards to drafting, free agency and trades.
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