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It's a new day in the NBA.
Like the Model T, the telegraph and the vinyl record player, the Big Three era of the NBA has gone the way of the dinosaur, tossed onto the scrap heap of history. Replaced literally overnight by the sparkling, brand-spanking new Big Four era, brought to you by the Golden State Warriors.
And as far as the rest of the league is concerned, it's already getting old.
You remember the Big Three era, right? The 1980s boasted Magic-Kareem-Worthy of the Lakers and Bird-Parish-McHale of the Celtics. The Spurs had Duncan-Parker-Ginobili in this century, overlapped by the Celtics' Garnett-Allen-Pierce and the Heat's James-Wade-Bosh trios.
The Warriors put together their Curry-Thompson-Green triumvirate a few years ago, followed closely by the Cavaliers' own Big Three of James-Irving-Love.
All of the above-mentioned Big Threes won championships prior to the resurgence of the Cavaliers and Warriors in 2015. Of course, the Bulls dynasty of the 1990s that produced six titles in six Finals trips was devoid of a Big Three, but then again they hardly needed one. They had Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. More would have been overkill. Plus Jordan counted twice anyway.
Likewise, the Lakers of the turn of this century only had a Big Two. With emphasis on Big, because one of the two was Shaquille O'Neal. The other was Kobe Bryant. A third running mate would have just gotten in the way.
The Big Three era was alive and well as recently as the last two years, with Golden State and Cleveland splitting NBA titles against each other.
That's over now.
After winning it all last year, the Cavaliers did what most teams do after winning it all: Kept the roster largely intact, particularly the nucleus, and added a few minor pieces to improve the quality of their depth.
At the other end of the country, after watching their record 73-win regular season and 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals go up in smoke last June, the Warriors were not content to continue matching Big Three with Big Three against Cleveland for the next several years, with the outcome of those matchups certainly very much in doubt. After all, the 2015 Finals had gone six games and the 2016 Finals went seven.
The Warriors knew that simply adding a role player here and there would barely cause a ripple when facing the Big Three of the Cavaliers.
So they created a tsunami instead. Leaving nothing to chance, they brought in four-time scoring champ Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City and ushered in the era of the Big Four.
And unceremoniously ushered out the era of the Big Three. As soon as the ink dried on Durant's contract with the Warriors, the idea of a Big Three was obsolete.
Overcoming the Curry-Thompson-Green lineup was difficult enough. Adding Durant to that mix makes the task nearly impossible. It took a record-setting night by the Cavaliers just to win Game 4 and stay alive in the series. Duplicating that feat three more times is the most daunting task faced by any team in Finals history.
The 6-foot-9 Durant by himself is a nightmare to defend because of his size, amazing versatility and seemingly limitless shooting range. Putting him on the floor with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green -- plus Andre Iguodala -- turns Durant into Superman.
And the Warriors into Superteam.
At halftime of Game 3 Wednesday night, ABC interviewed NBA commissioner Adam Silver concerning his thoughts on the startling lack of parity in the NBA. Silver paused, then engaged in some weasel-wording about how it's too soon to make that judgement and he needs to see more.
It's difficult to understand what more he needs to see.
Curry is 29. Durant is 28. Thompson is 27. Green is 27.
You can see where this is headed.
Even if the commish can't.
The only thing that can stop the Golden State juggernaut is ego and greed. If any of the Warriors' Big Four decides to bolt for a bigger contract and marquee billing with another franchise, rather than sharing the money and the stage with his cohorts, other teams might actually have a chance to win a title.
But if they decide to stay together and chase history, we're looking at Groundhog Day, NBA style.
As far as Silver dancing around the issue Wednesday night, he can't be serious. And he can't think this is good for the league, even if TV ratings for these Finals are soaring. The regular season and playoffs were a dog-and-pony show leading up to the Cavaliers-Warriors Finals "Threematch."
At least when the Lakers and Celtics were battling it out in the 1980s, sharing eight championships between them, other teams managed to reach the Finals occasionally. And when the Bulls were dominating the '90s, they did it with a once-in-a-lifetime Dynamic Duo rather than stacking the roster with a Big Four.
But this is different. The other 28 teams in the league have no chance, zero, and even they know it.
This isn't Golden State's fault, though. Nobody should begrudge the Warriors trying to improve their team after losing in last year's Finals. That's their prerogative, and they were able to pull it off. Every team in the league would do it if they could get away with it.
The fault lies within the NBA's salary-cap structure. There's an inherent flaw in it, somewhere, that has allowed this situation to occur. What that flaw is, only the numbers-crunchers truly could know.
Yes, each individual franchise is responsible for acquiring talent and paying that talent accordingly, and if they overvalue and therefore overpay players, that's on management. But why some franchises can only field what barely passes as a professional basketball team, while others -- well, one other -- can add a ringer to an already loaded roster with championship pedigree is difficult to accept.
And difficult to explain, as Silver so clearly demonstrated Wednesday night by his refusal to explain it.
Of course, the Warriors didn't just stumble into this by accident. They did their due diligence, drafting Curry, Thompson and Green and building around them. That's the formula for success in pro sports.
But that formula has a new, potent ingredient in the NBA now. That ingredient lies hidden in the league's salary-cap structure, and the Warriors were able to mix it into an already-combustible potion last offseason when Durant became a free agent.
As the rest of the league watched in horror, a future Hall of Famer in his prime signed with a team already on the cusp of a dynasty. The only question was if the move would somehow adversely affect the Warriors' chemistry.
The answer: An emphatic no.
It was the perfect marriage: Golden State needed another weapon to assure victory over LeBron James and the Cavaliers, and Durant was easily lured to the Bay Area to try to chase down what had proven to be an elusive ring throughout his career.
A ring that now may be elusive to the rest of the league for years to come.