Originally posted on Chasing 23  |  Last updated 1/24/12

I’m tired of “Big 3′s”. Not just the concept, but also the term. Making it part of our basketball vernacular has created an environment where it’s become completely acceptable and normal for three superstars from different cities to create and force situations that result in teaming up and playing together… something which would have never happened in your father’s NBA.

Yes, the Big Three concept is overrated. Let me take a step back though, and analyze the concept itself. We’re sold on the fact that it’s three “superstars”, but it never really is. There’s probably only about 10 “superstars” in the entire league, but exaggeration has become commonplace (and nowhere more so than in my columns). It’s usually one superstar, one star, and one guy capable of making the bottom of the All-Star roster a few times in his career.

In the modern game, the “Big 3″ that kicked off this whole phenomenon was the 2007-2008 Boston Celtics: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen. They won the title that first year and a new philosophy was shoved down our collective throats. Was this was going to be a dynasty that reckoned back to the days of Bill Russell? Well, they didn’t win more titles – the Lakers did. And then the Lakers did again. And then the Dallas Mavericks did. So what did the analysts do? They scrambled to force the concept of a Big 3 on each winning team.

Kobe, Gasol, and Bynum were a Big 3? Not really – Bynum rarely saw the court. Lamar Odom? We all saw how much he was valued this past offseason. Ron Artest? Nope – he’s just nuts.

Are Dirk, J. Kidd, and Jason Terry a Big 3? No not really. You’re just naming the three best individual players on a good team now.

Another wrench: Rajon Rondo became the best player on the Boston Celtics. Were they a “Big 4″ now? Or did they just have a very good roster?

Either way, the trend was on. By this point of course, Miami acquired LeBron James and Chris Bosh, forming the best Big 3 in the league with incumbent Dwayne Wade. Or so we thought, until they didn’t win the NBA Championship when it was deemed a foregone conclusion.

This year, with Wade out, LeBron James is playing some of the best basketball of his career – the same can’t be said when D. Wade is on the floor. Even Chris Bosh’s best game that I’ve seen in a long time came when both of Miami’s leading men were sidelined. People are finally starting to wonder about the strategy of throwing great individual players together and expecting it to work.

Take a look at the New York Knicks, who have now dropped five in a row – including giving the Milwaukee Bucks their first road win of the season the evening before this writing. They touted Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Chauncey Billups as their “Big 3″. Well, Billups isn’t even on the roster anymore, and the other two are not delivering on team expectations.

The most successful Big 3 in recent NBA history was never really considered a “Big 3″ until the buzzword became hot: the Spurs trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobli. Until then, they were one superstar (Tim Duncan) and a pretty darn good backcourt.

In researching this column, you wouldn’t believe some of the trio’s that were classified as “Big 3′s” – by reputable websites too. Zach Randolph, Mike Conley, and Marc Gasol? Nice trio of players, but a big stretch. LaMarcus Aldridge, Ray Felton, and Brandon Roy? Michael Jordan could come out of retirement to replace Brandon Roy and that wouldn’t be a “Big 3″. Generally speaking, if my girlfriend hasn’t heard of one of the players in your “Big 3″, you’re not a Big 3.

So even though I’m against the term and think the concept is a little flimsy, as far as modern-era “Big 3′s” – I’m only counting K.G., Pierce, Allen Celtics and Miami’s James, Wade, and Bosh, and that’s it. The closest additional Big 3 we have is the gang of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden – but it’s still too early to make that call on Harden.

Big 3′s are bad for the NBA. It’s fine to have one team be the New York Yankees, but once all of the first and second tier talent in the league is consolidated on five or six teams, no one is going to be interested in the other markets. It’s already beginning to happen. A handful of great franchises and 20-something mediocre teams will lead to lack of ticket and merchandise sales, and eventually, contraction. The NBA has to get a hold of this. The Chris Paul trade veto was a desperate reaction to the bigger problem.

I’m not sure what the solution is – there’s already a salary cap in place. But with the smallest roster in all the major sports, it’s easier to manipulate those dollars. Trying to convince the stars to man-up and carry their own team, create their own identity will only work if the Big 3 concept fails. Guys want to win titles, but they want to do it with a shortcut.

That’s part of the selfish nature of today’s NBA players. LeBron wants to be one of the greatest of all time – but he doesn’t want to work for it. He’d rather hitch his wagon to D. Wade, hang out with his boys in South Beach and wait for the rings to pile up. That wouldn’t happen in a true team sport like football – but let’s face it, modern basketball is an individual sport more along the lines of baseball.

Most historical championship teams had A guy, and then another All-Star. Jordan had Pippen, Bird had McHale or Parish or DJ or whoever was hot that year, Magic had Kareem, Russell had Cousey, and so on. But really, these teams were centered by THE guy, who in turn made the next guy much better. In Pippen’s case, it was how hard he saw Jordan work. In the case of everyone who played with Magic, it was how he ran the offense and put the ball in their hands better than anyone else ever did it. In Bird’s case, it was because you could never leave him open. In Russell’s case, it was because you’d better double-team that guy.

We don’t need Big 3′s. We need superstars who become the one face of the franchise, that guy that a young Miami Heat fan pretends he is in his driveway. We need guys who carry their team, who always get the last play drawn up for them. We need men who are accountable, who are proud. We need individuals who raise the bar for everyone around them, and who put entire cities on their backs. We need leaders. We don’t need Big 3′s.

Is Anthony Davis really the best big man from UK in the NBA?
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

WATCH: Travis Kelce shows off nifty dance moves after TD

Report: Miles fired by LSU; Orgeron named interim coach

WATCH: Allen Robinson does 'hands up, don't shoot' after TD

Jay Gruden sounds off about anonymous locker room leaks

Report: Beckham Jr. one bad penalty away from suspension


Report: Vikings want Peterson to retire in Minnesota

Jose Fernandez killed in boating accident

Michigan is now all-time winningest program in college football history

Wisconsin Badgers serve notice to Michigan State, rest of Big Ten

Ole Miss Rebels throttle Georgia, remain in New Year's Six bowl race

Broncos brass made right decision on parting ways with QB Osweiler

WATCH: What are the best WR-CB rivalries of all-time?

Bill Belichick may be forced to get hilariously creative to fill his quarterback slot

CFB Crash Course: Week 4 - No ranking is safe

Where does Landon Donovan's return rank among these notable athletes?

Five sports stadiums that should be renamed

WNBA playoffs head into second round after single eliminations

A 25-year award tour: Celebrating A Tribe Called Quest

YB Box Score: 9/23 - Win totals and the jobbing renaissance

WATCH: Is Anthony Davis the best Kentucky big man in the NBA?

NFL Kickoff: Week 3 - Pity the perpetually rebuilding Browns

Questions from reviewing the Vegas 2016-17 NBA win totals

How James Ellsworth jobbed his way into the heart of the wrestling world

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Where does Landon Donovan's return rank?

WATCH: What are the best WR-CB rivalries of all-time?

Bill Belichick may be forced to get hilariously creative to fill his quarterback slot

Five sports stadiums that should be renamed

WNBA playoffs head into second round after single eliminations

CFB Crash Course: Week 4 - No ranking is safe

A 25-year award tour: Celebrating A Tribe Called Quest

WATCH: Is Anthony Davis the best Kentucky big man in the NBA?

A statistical trip thru Vin Scully’s extraordinary career

Questions from reviewing the Vegas 2016-17 NBA win totals

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker