A lineup is considered a superteam if it features several All-Stars or former stars, but for Dikembe Mutombo, no such thing exists in the NBA. He reasoned that no matter how loaded a lineup is, players still need to have the mental toughness to win and dominate games.
“If you mentally ... not tough, you can be beaten”
The longtime defensive stopper was ambushed for an interview by TMZ to ask what his opinion was about superteams like the L.A. Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets failing to make a deep playoff run. Mutombo clarified he is not a believer in super-stacked lineups and doesn’t believe they are superteams unless they have the mental toughness to win games.
“What is a superteam? Who told you that was a superteam? Everybody plays in the NBA. They play on the same team. I work for the league. There is no superteam.”
Dikembe Mutombo, TMZ
The 4-time Defensive Player of the Year winner added that mental toughness must be present in today’s players. “If you mentally ... not tough, you can be beaten. If you not mentally tough, somebody gon’ dunk on you.” Was Dikembe alluding to the struggles of Ben Simmons or Russell Westbrook? Some fans believe so, and until all the players on these superteams develop that mental toughness, they won’t be considered elite teams in the eyes of Dikembe Mutombo.
Why super teams thrive in the NBA today
The era of superteams gained relevance after the Boston Celtics’ Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce won a title. After that, it was Miami Heat’s turn with LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade. But superteams are nothing new in the NBA. They were there in the era of 80s and 90s Lakers. Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls were also considered a superteam.
In reality, the game and the players have evolved so much that a team needs to have several stars to stay above the competition. However, as Mutombo noted, having all these stars is not a guaranteed success.
With the games compressed now due to the Play-In tournament, many players suffer injuries that affect their postseason campaigns. Getting several stars also addresses that concern. When Kyle Lowry missed some games for the Miami Heat, Victor Oladipo stepped up big time. While Vic is no longer the All-Star player he once was, he could still deliver some big games when needed.
When Khris Middleton went down due to an injury, it was too much for the Milwaukee Bucks to overcome. Giannis Antetokounmpo couldn’t do it without a star teammate. The same can be said of Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks.
Next year, expect more star players to play with each other. But don’t expect Dikembe Mutombo to believe in superteams like the true OG that he is. It takes more than a few max guys to be a real superteam.