As many in the sports world know, Kevin Durant elected to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Golden State Warriors to team up with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, forming possibly the greatest team ever in the history of the NBA. Kevin Durant signing with the Warriors is also significant due to the fact that with the signing, they are forming the league’s first “Big 4”. Since 2000 there have been at least 13 times when franchises create a “Big 3”. The last time would be when the Warriors drafted Draymond Green. Forming a “super team” does not always guarantee a championship right away, or at all.
As we saw when LeBron James and Chris Bosh elected to go to the Miami Heat in free agency in the summer before the 2010-11 season joining Dwayne Wade, they were prematurely crowned champs. The Heat struggled mightily in the first couple of months in the season going 10-8. After they managed to jell after the 10-8 start they would go 48-16 the rest of the season and finish 58-24. They managed to get to the NBA finals, but would lose to the Mavs in 6 games. This “Big 3” would be together the next 3 year and reach the NBA finals every year they were together, winning 2 straight then losing to the Spurs in their 4th appearance. Following the Finals lose to the Spurs, LeBron James elected to go back to the Cavaliers in hopes of finally bringing a championship home.
The Miami Heat had another “Big 3” in 05-06 when they signed Hall of famer Gary Payton to go along with Shaq and Dwayne Wade. This “Big 3”would help lead Miami to the franchise’s first championship ever. This group would only be together for 2 years due to Payton retiring and O’Neal being traded to Phoenix. This is one of the cases where a “super team” does not always bring championships.
In the summer before the 03-04 season the Lakers were able to recruit Karl Malone and Gary Payton to team up with Kobe and Shaq. People did call this a “Big 4” I do not really see it as one due to the fact that they didn’t play together much. I really think of it as a “Big 3” with a mentor. I consider the “Big 3” to consist of Kobe, Shaq, and Gary. I do not Include Karl Malone in the group due to him playing the fewest games out of all of them. That season they were able to win a championship, but it was the only season they would play together. Shaq would get traded to Miami, Karl would retire and Gary would be traded to the Boston Celtics.
The Spurs had the greatest “Big 3” in the history of the league. The grouping of Manu Ginobilli, Tim Duncan, and Tony Parker. This group has led the franchise to 5 titles, and an NBA record 129 playoff wins. This group, alongside the coaching of the one of the greatest coaches, Gregg Popovich, has achieved the status of being the ideal franchise in terms of constant winning. During this off-season, the NBA world saw this power group breakup with the retiring of Tim Duncan.
The 2013 L.A. Lakers team was a case where forming a “super team” back fired badly. The L.A. Lakers acquired Dwight Howard and Steve Nash to play alongside Kobe. This “super team” failed horribly due to Nash’s chronic injuries and missed playing time. Howard and Bryant did not want to share the court with one another. Howard ultimately would be traded that following off season. Another example is the Brooklyn Nets in 2014, when they acquired Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce from Boston. The team was never really able to form a cohesive and highly-functional group. To make things worse, the Nets gave up their first round picks for the next couple years to Boston. The 1st first round pick ended up being the 3rd overall pick, and neither Garnett nor Pierce were on the team anymore.
In the off season before the 07-08 season, the Boston Celtics were trying to land a super star to go along with their franchise player Paul “the Truth” Pierce, in hopes of winning banner 16. Boston had not been a real favorable place for players that wanted to join. The team had not been the monster it was back when it went on to win 8 straight championships. Danny Ainge, the GM, was somehow able to pull a trade off and bring Ray Allen from Seattle, and Kevin Garnett from Minnesota. During that following season, the Celtics were a completely different team. They went on to go 66-16 after a disappointing 24-58 season, which is the best single season turn-around for a team in NBA history. They did struggle some in the playoffs, but managed to beat their arch rival L.A. Lakers in the finals to win banner 17. This is one of the rare cases in the Modern day NBA for a “super team” to win the title in the first year.
Yes, I know that there are many “Big 3’s”, but the game is not the same as it was in the years of Hall of Famers Magic, Bird, Russell, and Kareem.