PHOENIX // LeBron James believes a smaller NBA would be a better NBA.
Calling the 30-team league "watered down", James said that the NBA was more popular a generation ago because there were fewer clubs and thus more stars in the top squads.
The two-time reigning league MVP has been widely criticised for joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, but he defended his decision by saying the league would be more popular if there were more teams with multiple elite players.
Said James: "How can it be bad for basketball when you have guys who want to win playing on the same team? Hopefully, the league can figure out one way where it can go back to the 1980s 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."
James clearly is not concerned about the opinion of the players association, which certainly would oppose the elimination of any franchise and a subsequent loss of high-wage jobs for players.
Miami play the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers in one of the season's marquee games today.
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.
"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," he 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."