This morning I had two headline alerts on my phone. First, came the story about Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans demanding a trade. The second was that the Golden State Warriors are unstoppable.
These two headlines are connected in my mind, and it is the reason why the NBA is losing the war because marquee players have taken control. But before I discuss this, let me digress with a military analogy.
The United States of America has the most powerful military on earth. Let’s call them Golden State. Pakistan is ranked No. 13. Let’s call them San Antonio. Pakistan wants to be No. 1 but there’s a problem – money.
The annual military budget for the U.S. is $587 billion, while Pakistan has $7 billion. Pakistan has the same chance to beat the U.S. on the battlefield as the Spurs have beating the Warriors, with $25 million less to spend.
But what if Pakistan’s best military leaders decided to defect to the U.S. because they wanted to be on the winning team? It makes the impossible even more impossible, and so is the problem facing the NBA today.
In my analogy, people like Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard are the top military leaders on the NBA battlefield. And they’re defecting. It started with Kevin Durant a few years ago and continued with Demarcus Cousins.
Granted, not all of the NBA’s best are putting on the blue and gold in the Bay Area. Leonard will be headed to Los Angeles to play for the Lakers next year. And Davis is probably going to join him and Lebron James.
Back to my analogy. It’s like the best military leaders from around the world are now defecting to China, who is currently ranked No. 3 in military might and really has a realistic chance of catching up with the U.S.
If the Warriors and Lakers wind up with all of the best players, it’s likely that they will play each other in the NBA Western Conference championship game every year. But the NBA finals will be a joke, and few will care.
The NBA needs to change the rules yesterday to take the power back from the players and give it to the owners and their teams. How? A hard salary cap. The majority of leagues (NFL, NHL, MLS) have hard caps.
The NBA has a soft salary cap. Hard salary caps forbid teams from going above the salary cap. Soft salary caps allow them to go over by paying a luxury tax. A hard salary cap will ultimately fix the problem and save the league.