NBA Conspiracy Theory – Big Market Team Bias and Lack of Parity

Get to know more details on the NBA conspiracy theory that majorly centered around the lack of parity and the big market team bias that was allegedly happening.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is a North American professional basketball league. The league is one of the significant professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada, with 30 teams (29 in the United States and one in Canada). It is the world’s premier men’s professional basketball league. The league was established in New York on June 6, 1946, as the Basketball Association of America (BAA). After amalgamating with the competing National Basketball League on August 3, 1949, it changed its title to the National Basketball Association (NBL). The NBA and the American Basketball Association (ABA) consolidated in 1976, giving the NBA four new franchises. The league’s playoff tournament stretches into June. In terms of average annual salaries per player, NBA players are the highest paid athletes in the world in 2020.

Big-Market Team Bias/Lack of Parity

Some NBA fans have tried to accuse the league of conspiring to ensure the success of large-market teams and popular players in the playoffs. Every NBA Finals from 1980 to 2020 featured at least one of the following teams: the Boston Celtics, the Chicago Bulls, the Detroit Pistons, the Golden State Warriors, the Houston Rockets, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Miami Heat, or the San Antonio Spurs. Furthermore, every NBA Finals during that time period featured at least one of the following All-Star players: Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, or Stephen Curry. 

This conspiracy has only gotten worse as a result of so-called “superteams” in free agency, where star players (free agents or not) “team up” with other athletes of a similar high standing on a large-market team in a lucrative spot. 

The term emerged as a consequence of James’ public free-agent declaration in 2010’s The Decision. James (Cleveland to Miami), Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City to Golden State), and Paul George are noteworthy examples of players having left a smaller market to either join or create said “superteam” (Oklahoma City to LA Clippers). The first two moves in specific drew significant criticism, particularly James’s due to his prestige as a favourite son in his home state. Some have postulated that this has caused a drop in NBA ratings in recent seasons due to the lack of storytelling surprise during the regular season.

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