"I'm gonna take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat." The infamous sentence by LeBron James that completely changed the NBA landscape back in 2010 had more effect on the league than you might think. Sure it shifted the power of teams at that time, but the long-term impact was felt in the fact players started to join each other more, form super-teams, and disband loyalty in the pursuit of a championship. LeBron's former teammate Iman Shumpert thinks James is to fault for that, as he ruined the NBA in his mind.
LeBron the pioneer of super-teams?
It's ridiculous to say LeBron started super teams with the 2010 Miami Heat because we have seen many teams with multiple All-Stars going all the way through history. But it was about the way it was formed. Players didn't have the kind of power or leverage to go wherever they wanted and team up with their friends. Ownership groups and front offices had all the power, but LeBron broke the wall and showed that the players actually have control.
Ever since then, the players have been getting more and more power in the NBA. Getting larger contracts, requesting trades, signing wherever they want, and simply sitting out if they don't want to play. All of this was unseen in the NBA up to 15 years ago. But LeBron's push for player empowerment changed the complete hierarchy of the league and gave the steering wheel to the players. Some would argue that is good for the league, while others would say it's destroying it. One thing's for sure, it all has its perks and flaws.
While it's entertaining to see super-teams playing due to the abundance of transcendent talent playing together, it kills the nature of the NBA. The league gets too centralized with only a few select elite teams, while the rest gets the short end of the stick and no attention. That mainly happens to the small market team that don't have the appeal of the big cities to lure star names.
It also killed loyalty and the romanticism that once graced the NBA, with every team having its star or two that were heroes of the city for their whole careers. Instead, nowadays, it's normal to see star players switch numerous teams and look only for their best situation, rather than sticking it out with their original team. Of course, there are exceptions. Damian Lillard is the obvious one.
Former NBA player, champion, and once upon a time teammate of LeBron James, Iman Shumpert recently did an interview in which he explained how James ruined basketball by joining the Heat in 2010:
"Bron ruined basketball. He thought he was making it better I get him. Me personally, I loved the NBA for the loyalty that I thought was there. He basically knocked the fourth wall down like the organisation they bullsh*tting, we doing what we want. Great business move for sure but when you think about it outside looking in like, I got people tweeting me right now. They like literally talking about owners and trades, it's like bro y'all aren't supposed to be talking about none of this actually."
Iman Shumpert,"> Bootleg Kev
Shumpert didn't by any means diss LeBron, as the two remained good friends, but Iman simply wanted to point out how that move showed players they can do whatever they want and force their way into particular situations. That killed the loyalty aspect of the NBA in his eyes that once graced the league. Who could even imagine Jordan, Magic, Bird, Duncan, or Kobe leaving their teams in their primes? Shumpert brings a good point. You can definitely pinpoint LeBron's decision as the start of a new era in the NBA. The one dominated by players and super-teams.