The Bulls are back in action Wednesday, and while they await Derrick Rose's return, their competition got stiffer.
Defending champion Miami added two former All-Stars in the offseason, bringing its total to five. The L.A. Lakers employ six All-Stars with a total of three MVP awards and five Defensive Player of the Year awards. New York has four players with Olympic experience and two defensive Players of the Year. Boston lost an All-Star but added the second leading scorer of the 2011 NBA champs. Last season's runner-up, Oklahoma City, swapped an Olympian for a 20-point scorer and two future No. 1 picks.
The new era of the NBA super team is upon us, and you know what? I couldn't be happier.
Certainly I share the sentiment of the rest of our fair city: I will miss watching Rose play basketball. His are gifts that should be cherished.
But while plenty of basketball fans spent this summer griping about Dwight Howard and Steve Nash (and Antawn Jamison!) landing in the Lakers' purple and gold or the Heat scooping up Ray Allen, news of those transactions geeked me up for one simple reason:
Basketball is best with talented teammates.
We witnessed the benefits of those All-Star mergers from May to August this year. LeBron James was brilliant in the 2012 playoffs, but his performance in the Olympics was transcendent. Surround him with fellow All-Stars and you will see not just greatness, but purity. No offense to Ron Harper, but if the 1996 Bulls had Gary Payton or John Stockton, would you complain?
As for our Bulls or any other team built primarily around role players, the fire driving those squads to compete with the big boys will bring new tension and drama. It will be like a seasonlong version of the 2001 All-Star Game. If you love basketball, YouTube it immediately and check out Allen Iverson's smile at the end of the game.
Remember that look, friends. That will be you.
Jack M Silverstein is a RedEye special contributor. Say hey @ReadJack.
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