LeBron hints that contraction might help NBA

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PHOENIX (AP) - LeBron James thinks the NBA is watered down and hinted that contraction might not be a bad idea.

Speaking to reporters before Thursday night’s game against the Phoenix Suns, James defended his decision to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami by saying the league was more popular in the 1980s because there were more teams with multiple star players.

The Heat play the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers on Christmas Day in one of the season’s marquee games, but James said there could be more games like that during the season if there were fewer teams in the league, as in the ‘80s.

He also said it might be good for the NBA if players such as Minnesota’s Kevin Love or New Jersey’s Brook Lopez and Devin Harris could play for more successful teams.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

PHOENIX (AP) _ LeBron James thinks contraction could help the NBA.

Calling the league “watered down,” James told reporters before Wednesday night’s game in Phoenix that the NBA was more popular in the 1980s because there were fewer teams and thus more stars on the top squads.

The two-time reigning league MVP has been widely criticized for joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, but defended his decision by saying the league would be more popular if there were more teams with multiple All-Stars.

“How can it be bad for basketball when you have guys who want to win playing on the same team?” he said. “Hopefully, the league can figure out one way where it can go back to the ‘80s where you had three or four All-Stars, three or four superstars, three or four Hall of Famers on the same team. The league was great. It wasn’t as watered down as it is.”

Miami plays the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers in one of the season’s marquee games on Christmas Day. James has complained about scheduling games on Christmas, saying players should be able to spend time with their families, and said the league could have more high-profile games like that during the season if there were fewer teams, as in the ‘80s.

“We had more (star) players on the team, which made almost every game anticipated, not just the Christmas Day game or the Halloween game, things like that,” James said.

James also said it would be better for the league if some of the good players on bad teams were able to play for more successful teams.

“It’s not my job; I’m a player, but that is why the league was so great,” James said. “Imagine if you could take Kevin Love off Minnesota and add him to another team and you shrink the (league). Looking at some of the teams that aren’t that great, you take Brook Lopez or you take Devin Harris off these teams that aren’t that good right now and you add him to a team that could be really good.

“I’m not saying let’s take New Jersey and let’s take Minnesota out of the league. But hey, you guys are not stupid, I’m not stupid, it would be great for the league.”

(This version corrects day of week)

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