There are a lot of people that would say nothing. The NBA still has some die hard fans that live and die with with games that happen what seems like almost nightly for months during the regular season. The NBA is exciting and full of masterful athleticism that is beautiful to watch when it is played at it’s highest level.
But there are some real issues when you look at the league and how it is managed right now. Referees have become as big a part of the game as some coaches or broadcasters. Every time I see a referee jump and skip down the court when making a call, I think of some WWE ref and their D level acting. The block charge call has only been outdone, as the most ridiculously missed and scrutinized call in sports, by the NFL’s catch rule.
And then there is the player that jumps in the air to block a shot and how he must navigate not getting a shoulder or elbow into their mid section, to avoid being called for a foul is almost laughable to watch in real time.
Then there is the parity in the league. JJ Reddick just recently tweeted rebutting the super team concept and pointed out that since Lebron went to Miami that 6 different teams have won the chip. While this does address the parity of “super” teams, it does not deal with the overall league parity. The Sixers have been so bad for so long and even the “stacked” western conference only shuffles a few teams around when they send their top eight to the playoffs.
We can cut the lack of parity up so many ways. Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan both exited the league this year and in the 19 seasons that Tim Duncan played he or Kobe won 10 championships. That is better than half of the time that two teams from one conference won it all.
Let’s go back even further. Since the first NBA finals that I was alive for in 1984, 10 teams have won a championship. Cleveland, Golden Sate, and Dallas in that time frame are the only teams to only win one championship. The other 7 teams Share the remaining 29 championships together.
Then add in the finals losers. In 32 years, you can add 10 teams to the list that have at least been to a championship. Of those Phoenix, Indiana and Philadelphia are the only one time losers. That leaves 20 teams with fans that are 30 years our younger that have never seen their team win a chip and 10 teams with fans that age that have never even seen there team in a finals game.
Now contrast that with the NFL. The sports powerhouse in the US.
The NFL has 13 teams that have never won a Super Bowl and only 6 teams that never been to the big game. What makes that an even more significant difference is that the NFL has two more teams than the NBA.
Lastly, is the product itself. Now hear me out on this one. I love the athleticism and artistry that happens at the pro level. The problem is that Basketball games are played with half of the intensity during the first three and a half quarters and ratchets up in the last six minutes.
This is what makes the playoffs so much fun is that every possession is played at crunch time level. I get that it would be impossible for these guys to play at that level for 82 games a year, but it does dilute the product.
I can watch an entire game and get all the important highlights from a 30 second Instagram video, or in some cases a six second vine. Somehow the game needs to be more important every time the world’s best walk on the court.
Now I don’t like to only point out problems without offering solutions. I think the NBA should change the playoff system. The better team always wins and that can get boring. From the Harris poll above, college basketball is the least popular sport in the U.S., but when March Madness rolls around people go crazy. The win or go home mentality and Cinderella story are fascinating and the NBA could use some of that drama.
Also let’s bring back the value of the big man. I would love to see the NFL adopt the international goal-tending rules. I would love to see Dwight Howard be able to swat away a game winning shot as it bounces around the rim.
I think that the league should also go back to 28 teams. There are easily 24 players that we could remove from the league without the general fan noticing. It is difficult to think of what two franchises would go away, but it would increase the competitiveness.
I still have love for basketball and the NBA is a part of that, but it can be better.