Thursday, April 9, 2009

Case for NBA Schedule Changes, Case for Mid-Season Classic, Playoff Jostling and, Competition

This is one of my favorite times of the year. Spring! The NBA, NHL, PGA and ATP seasons are going to kick into high gear shortly. The MLB season just kicked off and the NFL Draft is looming. You have to love it.

This NBA season has been pretty dull (at least in my opinion) for the most part but I think that is a great news for the Association that there were no major disasters this season. No officiating scandal, no major over publicized police blotter incidencies, no huge scrums between the fans and the players, no major "why would anyone do that" assault incidencies, no over publicized management gaffes. It seems the NBA is finally starting to recover again from what I call "the David Stern Sales Orgy Era". To me, the Association went a little crazy with the way the game was being packaged and promoted. It is debatable whether this is a good or a bad thing but it is not really debatable whether basketball itself is a sport that can continue to endure - it definitely will because it is a great sport. It is so weird to me that the NBA would feel like it needs some kind of gimmick to promote the game. A lot of times it just comes off as being cheesy. From the unspoken of "boob cam shots" of yester-seasons, to the "air apparent" BS and even to the Horse (Pepsi) crap at the All-Star game. It sometimes comes off as crap masquerading as quality programing. Still I love the game and the Association. So why does the NBA often come off as being broad and insincere in its production (and marketing)? I think it has a lot to do with the length of the season. 82 games! Those are a lot of games.

With the Playoffs looming, the best portion of this season is yet to come. It is mind boggling that the NBA does not emphasize the playoff (as much as it can) as the quintessential competition every season. Some of the teams are just not competitive enough in the 2nd half of each season and it takes away a lot from those late season games. I think although the league has done a great job of growing interest in the game of basketball around the world, it is falling short in promoting competition within the NBA. Playing 82-game seasons seems more like a big money grab than a focus on competiton and that has always been the biggest image problem/challenge for the NBA. I have a radical scheduling idea that could work to fix this issue in a satisfiable way for fans, owners and the league. Here is how it goes:

  • Shorten the # of games to 64(28 Conference games, 28 out of Conference games and, 8 Divisional games)
  • Increase the playoff pool of teams by 4 teams
  • Stretch the playoff weeks by giving the top 2 teams in each Conference a 1st round bye
  • Keep the All-Star nominations but replace the All-Star game with a top-16- teams, single elimination, tournament (It can be called the Mid-season NBA Classic) and,
  • Open the skills competition to the public as well (public tryouts start at the start of the season and end before the Mid-season Classic, the winner then gets to compete against NBA players in the Mid-season Skills Competition - which happens before the tournament title game)

This seems like a pretty simple thing the NBA Competition can vote on and implement. It beats having some "boob cam" or trying to convince people to come and watch the Clippers vs. the Kings in the middle of March. Teams will not be killing all their star players before the Playoffs began because more teams will get in (20 instead of 30). Players can take a break during the Mid-Season Classic because those games will not count against your win-loss record in the Regular Season standings. Young players can get some exposure in the Classic tournament. The fans get something new and exciting to watch. The league and owners make more money. It is a win-win situation.

Dang. Someone from the League office needs to give me a call, I am giving you golden ideas here for free. There is so much that can be done with the game of basketball that is not being done. Instead, fans are being subjected to the exciting thrill of "Pepsi" and a semi-orchestrated All-Star game; not to talk of the crappy teams with no incentive to win games or the injury list.

Side note:
I actually started this post wanting to talk about the 3-way race between the Spurs, Rockets and the Blazers. The Blazers currently sit in the 4th spot however you have to wonder if the Spurs and Rockets will be jostling to meet the Blazers in the 1st Rd. I commend Portland for the success they have had this year but, still, I think they are definitely a beatable team. They (Blazers) will make a dream opponent for someone in the 1st round.

NBA needs to address this kind of competition. I hope they do that this offseason.


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