The Truth Behind The NBA Super-Team And How LeBron James Did Not Start The Trend

Written by Daniel Jones
Photo Credit: Allen Levin, Bleacher Report

In 2010, the NBA world was turned upside down when LeBron James, along with Chris Bosh, joined superstar Dwayne Wade on the Miami Heat. LeBron James, who was coming off being an all-star starter and all NBA first team member season, and Chris Bosh, who was an all-star the season before, joined Dwyane Wade, who was also an all-star starter and all-NBA first team member that season, in Miami to form a fearful “big three”. LeBron, along with Wade and Bosh, were subject to media lashings for “taking the easy way out” and “disrupting the balance in the NBA”. While these were common sayings, LeBron James is also blamed for the “new” trend of super teams in the league. Since LeBron’s Heat team, the Warriors created a team with 4 all-stars, the Cavaliers created a team with 3 all-stars, among others. The kicker is that LeBron James is unfairly blamed for this new trend when the facts of the situation are that super teams existed long before LeBron James joined Miami or before he was even in the league.

The 2007-2008 Boston Celtics

Photo Credit: Andrew Joseph, USA Today

In 2007, long before LeBron was going to Miami, the Boston Celtics were in the midst of a struggle. They had a franchise cornerstone in Paul Pierce, however, he was not enough to, funnily enough, beat LeBron James, who was setting the league on fire. To give Pierce and the franchise a chance to beat LeBron and capture another title, they decided to make two trades in the offseason. The first trade in June 2007 saw Ray Allen traded to the team. Ray Allen, who had been playing for the Supersonics, made the all-star team the season before. Feeling that Allen in himself wasn’t enough, the team made the biggest splash of the year by trading for Kevin Garnett. Garnett was coming off being an all-star starter and was 3rd team all-NBA. Although neither was a free agent signing, like James and Bosh, Ray Allen had become available in trade talks and Kevin Garnett, the bigger of the two fish, had a NO-TRADE CLAUSE, which means that he can veto any trade involving him. Due to this no-trade clause, Garnett practically had a free agent’s choice of teams to go, which means that he had a clear interest in going to Boston. After these trades, Boston went from a single-star team of Paul Pierce to a three-headed monster of all-stars Paul Pierce and Ray Allen along with All-NBA Kevin Garnett. With three stars, two of which could be argued as superstars, the Boston Celtics set out to wreak havoc on the NBA. This plan worked out as they were able to capture an NBA title before having to blow the team up and starting over.

The 2003-2004 Los Angeles Lakers

Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

The Celtics were not the only team in the ’00s to build a super team. The Los Angeles Lakers were attempting to push their team over the edge, even though they had a superstar duo in Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. These were considered two of the best players in the league, but those within the organization felt that it wasn’t enough to win their 4th straight title. To add to their superstar duo, the Lakers signed Karl Malone and Gary Payton in the 2003 offseason. To avoid twisting narratives, it is important to notice that Malone and Payton were both older when they signed. However, Karl Malone was coming off 3 straight seasons of being an all-star (2000, 2001, and 2002). Gary Payton was even more impressive of a signing considering he was coming off 3 straight all-star appearances, along with an all-NBA second-team selection in 2002 and NINE straight seasons of the all-NBA defensive first team. To say they were far past their primes would be grossly unfair. Unfortunately for the Lakers, they were not able to have the success of the previously mentioned Boston team as the Lakers didn’t want a title with this loaded roster. Team chemistry and injuries helped kill the title hopes of this team, but they were a super team, nonetheless.

The 1994-1995 Houston Rockets

Photo by Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images 

To round out previous super teams in the NBA, time will be reset to the mid-1990s. The Houston Rockets, in part due to Michael Jordan’s break from basketball, were able to capture the 1994 title. Fast forward halfway through the next season and the Rockets were struggling. They had superstar Hakeem Olajuwon, but there was not much else. Enter the trade deadline of 1995. With Houston needing another star and the Portland Trailblazers being out of playoff contention, Clyde Drexler, who had spent his career being THE franchise in Portland, was traded to the Rockets. With this trade, Drexler and Olajuwon were able to win the title as Drexler and Olajuwon were both named all-NBA third team and Olajuwon won the Finals MVP. The super team didn’t end there, though. The Rockets were able to add Charles Barkley, who was coming off an All-NBA Second Team selection and an all-star appearance and was traded to the Rockets. With these three Top 50 All-Time players, the Rockets were looking to three-peat as NBA champions. However, like the 2003 Lakers, things were not meant to be as they weren’t able to capture a title that season.

About the author

Daniel Jones