Actually, JLE had bigger names than JLA and it was the same type of storytelling. However, DeMatteis was way better than Jones completing the scripts and the JLI characters had more chemistry. It hs been said that the JLA was like a family while the JLE was like a frat house, i think that's mainly because the JLE didn't have duos (BB / BG, MM / Oberon, Max/Oberon, and Fire / Ice).
All the pretenders and legacy-driven JLAs suck.
[[ More seriously, good writing beats a good line-up. Generally. But the base concept is "the World's Greatest Super-Heroes".
In other words, DC's A-list, tentpole characters. What works even better is when new characters get mixed into that. (Think Satellite era. Which is pretty much the high point of JLA history, save Morrison's return to the big guns idea.) Everything else blurs into a sea of mediocrity, save a few bright spurts of fun (early Bwah ha ha) and bad ideas (Detroit, Meltzer, etc.) ]]