During the NBA lockout, the narrative unspooled by the vipers on the ownership side was that the league was in danger of being cleaved into two types of franchises. A small number were big-market teams in glittering, spired metropolises that collected superstars with the craven lust of billionaires taking trophy wives. The rest were clubs in backwater cow towns that collectively acted as a de facto farm system, nourishing ungrateful talent that fled to places with sunny weather and Fashion Weeks. It was heartbreaking enough to make Sweet Baby Gilbert cry.
But as we have seen in Miami, New York, and Los Angeles, a clusterfuck of superstars does not necessarily guarantee dominance. With the current salary cap, locking down three players with princely contracts means the rest of the roster will be fleshed out with unproven youngsters, waiver-wire offal, and veterans with one chipped hoof in the glue factory.
Maybe somewhere, though, between the Parnassian peaks where the haves frolic and the swamps where have-nots lurk, a third path exists. Yes, the NBA’s middle-class dream is alive in Philadelphia.