There's no shame in needing to see more to anoint. There's also no shame in believing the handwriting is on the wall in ink already. Because the term superstar is fluid and means different things to different people. Such is the complicated beauty of language. Shared meaning is a precious resource and doesn't come without some honest give and take from multiple parties. Which means the incessant debates around these terms are ever-renewing resources.
But what if, and this is just a post-lunch spitball here, we went forward and ratified at least a loose shared understanding of the term. To definite it empirically so everyone is on the same page if this stable of superstars has a cap or is an unlimited pool. Allow me to suggest that, for the sake of productivity and more focused conversation, set a limit of 10-15 players who could hold the desired mantle at a given time.
This may be too many or too few based on perspective. Anyone claiming there are fewer than five or more than 25 superstars, though, doesn't really fit into cocktail conversation. And we've essentially pared the league down to this level via the All-NBA team exercise.
Look at any first- and second-team over the past 20 years and you'll find roughly 80-85 percent of the players on there fitting of the superstar mantle. It's a pretty good guide, with some third-teamers and guys just off the honor roll sneaking into the club without official voting invite. Again, this is a rough sketch but it feels correct to me. And I think it'll feel correct to others.
My colleague Stephen Douglas suggested the following process for discerning a true superstar: "Combine All-NBA, with salary information and total number of national endorsements, W/L and how clutch a guy is and assign them all weighted point values and then distill them into an easy to digest Clutch Points graphic."
He's not wrong. Systematically that feels like a better way. But it's far more complicated and detailed than what I'm proposing, which is to agree on one measly size for a tent to hold all our superstar takes. I am nothing if not a simple man with simple ideas.
If this proposal isn't for you, then fine. Let's hear a counter. There are so many things like this in sports punditry where we can't get off Page 1 because we can't all get on the same page. It'd be cool if not totally unrealistic for there to be some sort of committee to govern all the content chatter. Like a Take Ombudsman Board.