The NBA is lost.
Sadly, it continues to break tradition and move in a direction that puzzles most of its fans.
Enter a midseason tournament where a team will be crowned champion during the season.
And then at the end of the regular season and playoffs, another champion would emerge.
Everyday you get the feeling that NBA commissioner Adam Silver really would love to be running the English Premier League. That’s where a lot of these ideas are coming from.
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Nobody wants to be the old man yelling at the neighborhood kids to get off their lawn. We get that. And yes, sometimes, change is good to spice things up.
But there’s something about tradition, too.
You want your game to be consistent, be something people can count on. This is too radical, un-American, if you will.
The idea is being stolen from European soccer. Leagues over there do this.
The NBA would use regular-season games between Thanksgiving and Christmas as the first rounds. Eventually, it would lead to an eight-team, single-elimination tournament during the season. By doing so, the NBA season would be cut from 82 games to just 78.
The notion is that the NBA can’t compete with the NFL and college football early in the season. So, somehow, people would be onboard with this because it isn’t just early-season games, the stakes are higher.
Fans have also made a way to watch plenty of different sports. The fact remains that most overlap. A fake midseason tourney isn’t going to get more eyeballs than football that time of the year.
Silver, trying to carve out a legacy, feels this is the time to make his play. After all, he was behind this Play-in Tournament at the end of this season.
Many players hated the idea, including Lakers star LeBron James. He called it dumb and said the person who came up with it should be fired. Somehow, it wasn’t a total disaster.
That’s why many are using the NBA’s Play-in game for the playoffs as Exhibit A. They say it worked and was a success. That, however, is truly debatable. And it just depends on the spin you want to put on it.
The league will point to the NBA TV ratings for the game against the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Lakers. It did a big number — 5.6 million viewers. In fact, it was ESPN’s highest-rated NBA game since the 2019 Western Conference finals.
But let’s be honest. It was the Lakers and Warriors, two of the NBA’s premier franchises. It also pitted two of the league’s biggest stars: James and Steph Curry. If that didn’t rate, the league would have been in trouble.
The bad part that few pointed out is that Curry and the Warriors wound up not making the playoffs, despite finishing the regular season in the eighth spot. Normally, that gets you in.
Hence, Curry was bounced and the Memphis Grizzlies — who were the 9th-best team in the conference at season’s end — made it in instead.
Sorry, that was not good for the NBA. The playoffs would have been better with both James and Curry in it.
There are so many other questions that come with this radical idea to change the NBA moving forward.
Can you imagine a team losing a player to injury in a midseason tourney and being lost for a real title run.
Plus, there is supposed to be a progression during the season. Players should be building toward being ready for the postseason, not spent before we get there.
The shorter season would mean less home revenue gates for NBA teams. You can’t imagine owners being cool with giving up two home games to make this idea work.
For sure, it’s not a slam dunk. In order to get this puppy off the ground, the NBA would need for the Players Association to sign off on it and also get a two-thirds majority of its 30 teams.
It’s too late to make this happen for next season.
But it could be up and running in the 2022-23 season, if it’s agreed upon.
The players and owners should reject this. The same way America, for the most part, has rejected soccer. Let’s keep basketball basketball and not try to turn it into soccer.