In response to free agent DeMarcus Cousins signing with Golden State for a song, furor took hold of the NBA universe. Fans complained there was no point in watching next season.

Players tweeted in mocking disapproval. Owners and executives had to wonder why they spent so much effort and money chasing a championship. The addition of a fifth All-Star to a three-time champion, thereby sapping next season of competitive drama months before it arrives, prompted confusion and anger.

Inside the league office, the reaction was different. It was placid. Perhaps the NBA would prefer greater distribution of star players, and for sure it would like a do-over of the cap spike of 2016 that allowed Kevin Durant to join the Warriors in a once-in-league-history anomaly. But the NBA also understands a lesson of history, both ancient and recent, that applies across the sports spectrum: Leagues are often at their healthiest when one dominant team is lording over all the others, even if popular opinion makes it seem otherwise.

Cousins signing with the Warriors led to instant hand-wringing, but the NBA has reason to believe that those upset now will be watching next season.

“The game is as popular, and probably in one of the greatest places, as it’s ever been,” ESPN NBA analyst Jalen Rose said. “You attribute that to greatness when it happens. The league has always been about dynasties, and we celebrate them.”

Before the Warriors’ ascent, the last NBA team so frequently charged with being too great for the health of the league was the mid-1990s Bulls led by Michael Jordan. The last four NBA finals, all of which the Warriors played in, have been the four highest-rated since those Bulls teams won three in a row. It crosses over to other sports, too: Baseball has not been healthier since the Yankees’ mini-dynasty in the late 1990s.

This year, Game 1 ratings fell compared to 2017, but it was still the most-watched NBA finals game since Jordan’s heyday. Besides NFL games, the College Football Playoff and the Olympics, the finals was the most-watched sporting event of 2018.

Ratings are by no means the sole barometer for sports leagues, and the effect of disillusionment among small-market fan bases could take years to fully surface. But while fans might feel a visceral distaste for a super team, they cannot help but watch. The league’s broadcast partners have no apparent qualms about the consolidation of great players.

“The sport is clearly healthy and ascendant, in large part due to the tremendous amount of star power across the league,” ESPN Executive Vice President of Programming Blake Magnus said.

The Warriors present perhaps the most extreme test yet. Durant could join the Warriors only because of unprecedented financial circumstances in the summer of 2016, and Cousins could join them only because of unique health circumstances: His market collapsed as teams found themselves either capped out, wary of his locker room reputation or uneasy about his health as he comes off an Achilles tendon tear.

The Warriors could offer the $5.3 million mid-level exception and, more crucially, a contender willing to let him heal and rest as often as possible, knowing the regular season essentially doesn’t matter. Anything Cousins gives them is gravy – and Cousins is a six-time All-Star who averaged 25.2 points last season.

The last team with five All-Stars from the previous season was the 1975-76 Boston Celtics, according to Elias Sports. The most compelling matchup next season now exists in the realm of the hypothetical: Could the Warriors’ starting five beat the Eastern Conference All-Star team?

Even players seem to believe the league has tilted too far in Golden State’s favor. Monday night, Knicks forward Enes Kanter tweeted a Photoshopped image of Adam Silver wearing a Golden State jersey. Magic guard Evan Fournier compared the upcoming season to a movie whose ending had been spoiled. Jazz forward Jae Crowder asked, in all caps and with heavy emojis, “What are we doing here guys?”

The emergence of a team that causes such reaction, though, is a popular draw. Cousins’ signing created widespread discussion that wouldn’t exist if he had joined, say, the Miami Heat. The league believes those teams capture the imagination of casual fans. The stakes when they play feel different, almost epic, even if the result seems inevitable.

Because in sports, it’s not inevitable. The 2007 Patriots went 18-0 and created an aura of invincibility before losing in the Super Bowl. The 2004 Lakers, who added Karl Malone and Gary Payton to the Shaq-Kobe nucleus, were shockingly crushed in the finals by an out-of-nowhere Detroit team.

“Look no further than this season,” Rose said. He pointed out that the Warriors nearly lost in the Western Conference finals, falling behind the Rockets, 3-2, before coming back despite trailing by double digits in Games 6 and 7. Rose said he believes the Rockets would have won had Houston’s Chris Paul not suffered an injury. If the Warriors lost, adding Cousins might not be cast as a super team becoming unfair, but rather a fallen champion trying to get over the hump again.

These Warriors are now perhaps the heaviest favorite yet. The Westgate Las Vegas sportsbook made Golden State a 2-to-3 favorite to win the title, which means it believes the Warriors have a better chance to win the title than the rest of the league combined. It seems like they can’t lose. The safest bet may be that people are going to watch and see.