This is my 200th column on this very site,and it deals with something I’ve long advocated for.
With sports fans having to sit through yet another inevitable Warriors-Cavaliers NBA Finals, it’s clear to me that the business model of the NBA is not a good one.
With Golden State being the only team having yet to lose a postseason game in 2017 and presumably meeting in the NBA Finals for the third straight season, if you’re a fan of one of the 28 other teams in the league that either missed the postseason altogether or were eliminated along the way, you’re probably wondering what the hell has to happen for
your team to have a chance when, year after year,the deck is continuing to stack against your franchise and you as a fan.
That,my friends,is unacceptable. I don’t know about you,but I’m tired of not only seeing the same two teams make the Finals,but I’m also tired of seeing superstars team up to form superteams. It seems to me that the league is taking two positions on this issue,the public one where the commissioner,Adam Silver, comes out against someone like Kevin Durant signing with the Warriors and leaving every bit of loyalty he had with the Oklahoma City Thunder behind. The private issue seems to be that deep down, the league likes it because it will make them more money to have Durant team up with Stephen Curry,Klay Thompson,and Draymond Green.
Meanwhile in Cleveland, LeBron James,Kyrie Irving,Kevin Love,and Tristan Thompson weren’t even the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference,but are handling the Boston Celtics,who did, with the greatest of ease. Their star player, Isaiah Thomas was injured and is missing the rest of the series and the Cavs are basically killing them when they’re already dead (See: Game Two of the conference finals),save for Sunday night,of course.
The Warriors deliberately injured the best player on the San Antonio Spurs,Kawhi Leonard, and he has yet to return to the series and it’s too little,too late.
Now as a fan of one of the league’s bottom 28 teams,it makes me wonder if there’s even a point to watch if things are pretty much predetermined before the season even starts. Sure,there’s a slight chance that things don’t work out,but come on,look what we’re dealing with here. Look how it’s gone the last three years and look where we’re headed.
It doesn’t look pretty and sooner rather than later fans whose teams aren’t getting anywhere because of such a stacked deck are going to lose interest in watching NBA basketball. It’s safe to say it’s already happened to some of us.
By the way,this is nothing new. You could argue that this is and has been a long-standing problem dating back a few decades. Since 1980, only 11 different franchises have won the NBA title. That’s much fewer than the NFL (15), NHL (16),and MLB (20).
So,how do you get the league to have more parity? There are a number of ways and the best places to look are the leagues of other respective sports. I think the NBA should do a franchise tag like the NFL does in order to work to keep star players in cities that don’t always get to keep those players (Minnesota,Orlando,Sacramento,etc.) and prevent them from teaming up with their buddies over and over again. Either that or have a harder salary cap like the NFL and NHL do. This would create more of a mix of playoff teams as well as strengthen the bottom 28 teams in the league.
I also think we need to take a look at how the playoffs are structured. The current format is a dinosaur that needs to go the way of,well,the dinosaur. The teams that make up the final three spots in each conference are basically chopped liver for the stronger teams to make waste of and fast. It’s not fun seeing an eighth seed having next to chance against a strong top seed at all and it’s almost pointless to have them get into the postseason. I think you have a system like the NHL’s where the top three teams in each division make the postseason and the teams with the best records in the conference get the final two spots. I think that system would work well in the NBA and you may give the bottom teams a little more of a chance.
If we’re ever going to have more teams in the league get better,it cannot continue under the current system and if Silver is going to keep his job safe by the owners,he’s gotta do something about the lack of parity in his league. If he doesn’t and the league refuses to change, you’re going to have a lot of empty seats in markets that haven’t done well in a system that clearly doesn’t benefit them whatsoever.