I remember a time when the NBA was neck and neck with the NFL as being one of two flagship sports in America. You had teams like the Super Sonics, Bulls, Pistons, and Spurs along with the Pacers as small Market teams who got as much publicity as any other team in the league. Back then, the NBA shared the one thing in common with the NFL that made the current flagship the top dog by a mile of sports entertainment: "Parity." Back then, teams were (built) for success through the draft more than anything else. Back then, players actually practiced the art of playing solid defense and team work. In those days players understood the blood, sweat, and tears it took to obtain the games' most prized possession. That realization made gaining that prize all the more sweet for those who accomplished it and took home the trophy.
Today's NBA culture of players doesn't give the slightest hint of the way the game was played by it's predecessors. Today, teams are no longer built. Now they are "bought." Many of today's players no longer practice the art of good defense. Instead they now practice the art of "flopping" by using tactics they hope will fool the refs into making "phantom calls." In a league that once featured teams that prided themselves on winning the games ultimate prize with building chemistry over years of playing together as a unit led by good coaching and smart drafting, now features teams that are stacked with the spoils of the free agency war; a war that is usually won by the organizations that play in the largest markets. The Heat being the "victors" of the past two championships are a classic example of how the NBA has become a "Big bank takes little bank" sports league. All of this has taken away the very fabric of what made this once great venue of entertainment what it was when it was at it's pinnacle.
This "instant championship team" culture that is sweeping the NBA now is damaging the sport many of us who still appreciate teams like the Spurs, OKC and Pacers used to love. It breeds a lazy mentality amongst today's players whom many will never know what it's like to win a championship the right way with that approach. It doesn't respect the game or the players who made the sport relevant, but on the bigger stage of life it gives an even poorer example of how to achieve goals by selling out to get to the mountain top. The bandwagon fan base we see now that hops from team to team is a reflection of that mentality at it's finest. Now that Howard has made his "decision to take his talents to Houston," the band wagon parade is already lined up at the nearest Walmart to get his jersey. Where is the loyalty in this? As a Pacers fan it gives me great pleasure in knowing that if and when the Pacers win a title, I can honestly say my experience will be one of genuine pride. That's something that a bandwagon rider will never experience.
No matter how many titles Lebron wins with the Heat, none of them will ever mean as much as the one he left on the table in Cleveland. Regardless of his company tow line words on "How much winning this means to us," the most meaningful championship any athlete can ever win is the one for the team that drafted him. Especially when it's for a city that's never won a title on any level in any sport like Cleveland. The Miami Heat represent not only what's wrong with the NBA, but also just how fickle fans have become in the sport. 90% of so called "Heat fans" didn't even own Heat jerseys before Lebron got there, and every last one of them will be on the quickest train out of town when Lebron leaves just as fast as they came too. As soon as another Microwave paper champ is built, like a pimp to the next hoe they will flock to that bandwagon the same way they did to the Heat; the same way they did to the Celtics before them. The fact that Pat Riley and the Heat's front office aren't under investigation from the league for "tampering" is a classic example of just how biased the NBA is with it's so called "free agency rules of regulation." Everybody and their mother knows about the "secret meeting" between the "big three," and the Heat's front office. I for one refuse to watch any NBA finals that features Either the Heat or any other NBA team the league features as it's poster child to sell it's product to the masses. I have no desire to watch the same teams in the finals over and over and over again. As long as the NBA has no parity, it makes no sense to support it. The beauty of the NFL is that no matter what football city you live in, on "any given Sunday" your team has a legitimate shot to win it all. Until the big wigs of the NBA figure that one out, they will always play second fiddle to the NFL.