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This salary cap thing isn't working out.
For the NBA or the NFL.
Theoretically, the purpose of a salary cap is to level the playing field, making the system fair for all teams regardless of the size of the market in which they reside.
Salary cap equals parity, we're told.
Then you watch the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors reach the NBA Finals for the third straight year in devastating fashion. The first three rounds of this postseason were little more than speed bumps for both teams, the Cavs going 12-1 in the East playoffs and the Warriors 12-0 in the West.
You watch all this and you think, what salary cap?
Let's face it. The conference playoffs were a Harlem Globetrotters show, with the Cavs and Warriors serving as the Globetrotters and the six opponents between them the hapless Washington Generals. The only thing missing was LeBron James and Steph Curry running around the court with a bucket of confetti as "Sweet Georgia Brown" blared over the PA system.
This certainly isn't what the league had in mind for its salary-cap system. Instead of leveling the playing field, it's allowing the Cavs and Warriors to level the rest of the NBA.
Most alarming for the league: The gap between the Cavaliers and Warriors and the rest of the NBA clearly is widening, with no end in sight. The nucleus of both teams is such that the NBA Finals could be little more than a Cavs-Warriors reunion for the foreseeable future.
ABC may as well get its marketing department to work on a snazzy logo and catchy jingle for a "Same Time, Next Year" Finals theme for its telecasts. Because the only thing certain to change is the Warriors' home venue, as they are scheduled to leave Oakland's Oracle Arena for the new Chase Center in San Francisco starting with the 2018-19 season.
Aside from the Warriors' pending move west across the Bay, though, nothing else figures to change any time soon. The trend curve for the rest of the NBA is ominous:
— In the 2015 Finals, the Warriors' Big Three of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green were too much for a Cavaliers team that went from its own Big Three of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love to a Big One with LeBron following injuries to Irving and Love. Still, it took the mighty Warriors six games to finally vanquish a vastly outmanned Cavalier squad.
— The following year, with all hands on deck for the Cavs, the Finals pitted Big Three vs. Big Three and Cleveland won a classic seven-game series. The Cavs went 12-2 in the East playoffs, while the Warriors set an NBA record with 73 wins in the regular season on their way to the Finals. The gap had widened.
— Not happy about blowing a 3-1 series lead in the Finals and losing Games 5 and 7 at home, the Warriors saw the Cavs' Big Three and raised them the Big Four, adding four-time NBA scoring champ Kevin Durant in the 2016 offseason -- a move akin to shooting a mosquito with a howitzer. The Cavs added pieces too, most notably Kyle Korver and Deron Williams. Both teams got better and deeper, and both barely broke a sweat in reaching the Finals for the third year in a row.
At this point, it's not that the Cavs and Warriors are in a league by themselves. They're in the Andromeda Galaxy, light years ahead of their closest competition.
If you're the other 28 teams in the league, your blood has to run cold with the realization that if nothing can stop the Warriors from adding a Kevin Durant in one offseason, what, then, can stop the Cavaliers from adding that kind of piece in this offseason or the next? And if/when they do, what's to stop the Warriors from one-upping the Cavs again?
When, where and how does it end?
There are 31 NFL teams that would like an answer to that question, because its salary cap has been about as effective as the NBA's.
Since the 2001 season, the New England Patriots have played in seven Super Bowls, winning five. No other NFL team has played in more than three Super Bowls or won more than two in that same span.
In other words, the Patriots have won roughly one-third of all Super Bowls played since the 2001 season.
In the NBA, two teams -- the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs -- each won five championships between 1999 and 2014. That's two teams combining to win nearly two-thirds of all NBA Finals played since 1999.
Followed by the current Cavaliers-Warriors stranglehold on the league.
That's not parity.
Which brings us to Major League Baseball, the poster child of everything that is wrong and unfair about professional sports because it does not have a salary cap.
Since 1999 -- the beginning of the Spurs dynasty in the NBA -- three teams have won three World Series each: The Yankees, Red Sox and Giants.
Since 2001 -- the beginning of the Patriots dynasty in the NFL -- that list is pared to just the Red Sox and Giants. The Yankees -- the franchise vilified for its built-in financial advantage of playing in New York City in a sport without a salary cap -- won a single championship in the same time frame that the Patriots won five.
Even if you factor in the entire Derek Jeter era beginning with the 1996 season, the Yankees won as many World Series -- five -- as the Patriots won Super Bowls and the Lakers and Spurs won NBA titles.
Yes, MLB has a luxury tax that is intended to discourage teams from rampant overspending, a kind of de facto salary cap, but it's not nearly as stifling as the economic structure of the NBA and NFL.
We are subjected to a steady narrative of how outrageously unfair Major League Baseball's free-market system is, even though the evidence shows overwhelmingly that the opposite is true.
At the same time, we never hear about the inequities of the salary-cap system in the NFL or NBA even though, for whatever reason, it has led to serious and obvious imbalance.
As the NBA Finals have once again shown.