Picture Michael Jordan, the best basketball player of all time and owner of a small-market franchise in Charlotte, chomping down on one of his beloved cigars, while being agitated about the rise of superteams.
Jordan was interviewed in a recent issue of Cigar Aficionado magazine where he expressed concern over the growing presence of overstuffed franchises upsetting the balance of the league as a whole.
"I think it's going to hurt the overall aspect of the league from a competitive standpoint," Jordan said, as relayed by Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated.
"You're going to have one or two teams that are going to be great, and another 28 teams that are going to be garbage. Or they're going to have a hard time surviving in this business environment."
Putting aside that Jordan might have inadvertently called his own Hornets garbage, his point is a common concern shared by many small-market franchises. Is there enough upward mobility for non-destination clubs to attract and retain stars to truly push for championships? Or is the league destined to always be ruled by the same few franchises?
As it currently stands, the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers are due to decide the Finals for the fourth straight season next summer. Other teams like Oklahoma City, Houston, and Boston have stockpiled more pieces but they're all a few distinct tiers below the last two reigning champions. Everyone else is just waiting around for either the Warriors to finish their run or for age to catch up with LeBron James.
So far it hasn't affected ratings, nor league revenue, which both continue to climb. It's also worth noting the NBA was at its apex in popularity when Jordan's team won six titles in eight seasons - hardly a competitive field either.
But as Jordan notes, if the gap between superteams and the competition continues to grow, those trends might change.