I tried watching the Sixers/Bulls game on Friday night until I realized something—the NBA stinks and I mean it really stinks. I am actually a fan too. That is not good for the league.
I would much rather watch an NCAA men’s basketball game versus an NBA game.
An NCAA game is played with passion and heart, the NBA, not so much.
Heck, I may even prefer to watch a women’s NCAA basketball game over an NBA game.
The league hasn’t been the same since Michael Jordan left for the second time, ending his Chicago Bulls era.
The league is infused with a ton of young talent: LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Deron Williams, Kobe Bryant and David Lee (the token white dude).
There is already a base to deliver an unbelievable product. The league just needs to convince itself that some much needed changes must take place.
The NBA has aged well past its prime and needs to catch up with the times.
It needs to become faster. It has to become action packed. It has to become meaningful again.
The current NBA seems lifeless, slow paced, heartless and boring. It is a yawn fest and this is coming from someone who loves the NBA.
Imagine what people who hate the NBA are saying?
They are dangerously close to becoming the NHL and that is not good. Something has to be done.
I know basketball purists are going to say there is nothing wrong with there sport but the numbers don’t lie.
Declining ticket sales and rising costs are crippling the sport and it seems like the league and the players union is stuck in neutral.
They are not going to be able to come out of this rut by making only a few minor concessions.
Both the players union and the league are going to have to make drastic changes to their philosophies. They are going to have to make the games more enjoyable and teams/markets more alluring.
I know none of this will ever happen.
The players union and basketball purists will complain mightily about preserving the current format because they will worry about the NBA record books and the effects the changes will have in maintaining them.
The league will, of course, worry about the bottom line. It is all about making money folks.
I cannot call it greed. It is their prerogative to do so, but you know what? A good portion of your franchises are hemorrhaging money as if they cut their own jugular veins.
It is time for change!
I have seven things that the NBA could consider adopting to make the turnaround in the public’s perception happen.
Cut the season in half
The current NBA schedule is way too long.
A team can go on a four, five, six or seven game losing streak and it is just a blip on the radar. It means nothing. They still have an excellent chance of rebounding and making the playoffs.
That is ridiculous.
There is another problem with the 82 game season—games occurring in the beginning of the season mean nothing to anyone but the true passionate fans and the media covering the league.
It also occurs during the heat of the nations’ most popular sport, the NFL, and by the time games mean something in the NBA, half of the teams are already out of contention.
Cutting the season in half could help alleviate this problem.
Start the season after the Superbowl and only have 41 games. Games will actually mean something and NBA players won’t run into a brick wall.
This may actually lead to some sort of parity, which is actually good for the league. League attendance may actually rise!
Some teams suffer through decades of ineptitude and that needs to stop. They need to be able to fix the problem rather quickly, bring hope to the fan base, year in and year out.
That is one of the great things about the NFL and its product.
Teams can rise from the ashes and come out of nowhere to make the playoffs and actually make a run at a championship.
Teams’ fan bases actually come into the season with some optimism, which is what drives up revenue.
The NBA needs to adopt the out of conference philosophy of the NFL
You may as well try and mirror the most prolific and successful sport in the United States and this move can help with cutting out half of the schedule.
Teams will play the majority of the schedule within their division and play every other team within the conference.
After that is complete, it will play games against one of the divisions in the other conference and rotate the divisions they play each year.
For example, the Atlantic Division will play the Southwest Division in 2010, the Northwest Division in 2011 and they would play the Pacific Division in 2012. In 2013 they would play the Southwest division again, etc.
The schedule make up would be—play every team within your division four times each (16 games), each team in the conference twice (two other divisions equals 20 games) and then include the out of conference games (five). That is 41 games. Done and done.
Mirror the NCAA tournament for the playoffs
Currently only 16 teams (eight per conference) make the playoffs.
With this new philosophy we would expand the current format to include 24 teams and take out the conference preference.
The top 24 teams would make it and their rank would be according to the team’s final record.
The league wouldn’t separate it by conference they would be ranked appropriately by record.
The bottom six teams would enter the NBA lottery immediately.
The top eight teams would receive a first-round bye in the playoff bracket.
Teams nine through 24 would play a one-game elimination to set up the top 16. (Team nine plays 24, then team 10 plays 23, 11 plays 22, 12 plays 21..you get the point.).
If the higher ranked team gets eliminated in this format, they would automatically get a spot in the NBA lottery.
The rest of the NBA draft would be formed by final finishes.
The rest of the playoffs will be best-of-five games series and seeded accordingly, the highest rank team always playing the lowest seed remaining, etc.
They need to make the games shorter
It forces the games to become extremely fast paced. There is no time off for the players.
This will eliminate any lulls in the game. Adopt the time scenario of the NCAA, two 20 minute halves.
Every minute of every game will count!
I can tell you right now, I spend the first and third quarters at the bar, concessions stands or the bathroom.
Now my ass will be in the seat for every minute of every game, only leaving to get concessions at television timeouts.
(Don’t worry Sixers, I will still spend an obscene amount of money on cheese fires, nachos and brew).
Make player contracts performance based
We can call this the Jerome James rule.
This will be in place to eliminate the Jerome James’s contracts of the world. I know the Knicks would be advocates of this rule.
A player who dominates in a contract year or the playoffs then gets paid handsomely in the offseason, only to show up fat and out of shape, essentially crapping the bed for the life of the contract, by getting buried on the bench while making 22-million a year, will be signed to a performance-based contract.
It happens every year.
You have to be realistic and set performances based on the life of the player’s career and future expectations.
You cannot sign LeBron James to a performance-based contract that depends on his scoring 42 points a game and averaging a triple-double. He wouldn’t sign it anyway.
This will light a fire under the player’s butts. They would start playing with some freaking passion again.
Eliminate the guaranteed contract from the salary cap
This is what makes parity in the NFL exist, they are not crippled or handicapped by certain contracts.
Once a player becomes obsolete due to injury, aging, or sheer laziness, a team can designate him to be put out to pasture.
I know the players union won’t opt out of this so the teams would still owe the contract or can buy it out, but it would not count against the salary cap.
A team can get crippled by a bad contract.
I can only think of a few situations like Chris Webber, Vin Baker, Jerome James, Stephon Marbury, Steve Francis, Elton Brand (hehe) and Allan Houston, just to name a few.
Have a half-off of concession stands promotion
This should happen twice a month and it would include alcohol. They need to promote tailgating!
Most fans love it. Beers are too expensive right now and the economy stinks.
Beers are seven bucks and I normally go to the game with three other dudes. I buy one round which equals 28 bucks. That is a case of beer!
My friends usually by a round too, so I wind up drinking four beers in the game. That is 116 bucks total.
They must make a freaking killing on alcohol.
Drinking increases during bad economic times.
During the Great Depression, it seemed like people spent all of their money getting wrecked at a bar.
I know I’ll be doing that soon!
Get with the times folks!
We need to get wreck and watch a really short, fast NBA game and season.
Heck, I am drunk now.
Thank God I am writing this, because I forgot what the hell I was talking about…
My shoes hurt.
At least I have Matt Leinart.