What I’m talking about is the birth of the modern NBA super team. If you can remember back that far, the Lakers had future hall-of-famers Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. They then added hall-of-famers Karl Malone and Gary Payton to round out arguably the greatest starting four in NBA history. Even though they lost to the team-orientated Detroit Pistons in the 2004 NBA Finals, they opened up a decade-long race to super team-dom.
Four years would pass until the Boston Celtics pulled off super trades in the summer of 2007 to form another super team. The team with all-star Paul Pierce and future all-star Rajon Rondo added two future hall-of-famers in Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. The difference with this team and the 2004 Lakers was that Garnett and Allen were still in their primes while Malone and Payton were at the tail end of their careers. The 2008 Celtics would go on to beat the (guess who?) the Lakers in six games.
2008 also saw the Lakers come back to prominence when they formed their own style of super team when they acquired all-star Pau Gasol in one of the most lopsided trades in history to play along side future hall-of-famer Kobe Bryant and future all-star Andrew Bynum. This team came together the same year the Pierce-Garnett-Allen-Rondo Celtics came in, but they enjoyed more success. The Lakers made three straight trips to the NBA Finals, losing in 2008 and winning in 2009 and 2010.
In the summer of 2010, the Miami formed a super team that will compete for many years. Everyone remembers “The Decision” where Lebron James proclaimed to the world that he will be joining his best friend Dwyane Wade in Miami. Chris Bosh also made his way to Miami and the Big Three was born. All three players were all-stars and at the prime of their careers. They reached the NBA Finals in the first two years of their existence – losing in 2011 and winning it all this past June in 2012. In the summer of 2012, they added future hall-of-famer Ray Allen to solidify their bench.
Now, there is another super team to rival the Big Three + Allen. The Los Angeles Lakers were coming off two straight championships in 2009 and 2010 with second-round finishes in 2011 and 2012. They added, perhaps a team for the ages. They traded four future draft picks to Phoenix for future hall-of-famer Steve Nash to create the most intelligent back court in history with Kobe Bryant. The Lakers kept all-star Pau Gasol and added former all-star Antwan Jamison to solidify their bench. The biggest move they made was trading all-star Andrew Bynum to Philadelphia for Dwight Howard from Orlando in a multi-team trade. The monster in Los Angeles of Kobe-Nash-Howard-Gasol is favored to win the 2013 NBA Finals.
We’ll see how this turns out and if it’s ultimately good for the NBA.