NBA Brings March Madness to Vegas Summer League with NCAA-Style Tournament

Gabe ZaldivarPop Culture Lead WriterMarch 19, 2013

It may be impossible to ignore the Las Vegas Summer League now that the NBA has decided to adopt an NCAA-style tournament. 

CSN Bay Area's Ric Bucher reports the summer league, owned and operated by the NBA, will now have a March Madness-type bracket, with the winning team getting some of their summer expenses paid for by the league. 

A league that garners a passing interest from most fans will now have the intrigue of an enticing tournament that teams may actually attempt to win. 

Here is how it will play out, according to Bucher:

Previously, every Las Vegas Summer League team was guaranteed five games and organizers accommodated them with staggered starts and finishes to their schedules. Under the new format, all competing teams will begin play within the first or second day of the schedule and have three specific games.

The top teams will then be granted a bye while the remaining teams face off. The winners then advance to an eight-team, single-elimination playoff series. The hope is that the heightened competition and suspense will draw a TV audience that potentially could offset the cost of two weeks in Las Vegas.

For the most part, the summer league has existed as a grandiose tryout for players hoping to get a preseason invite by an NBA team. 

As Bucher points out, it's also a great way to groom younger players and coaches in a relaxed environment. 

Still, the cost of competing in the league has become prohibitive for some teams, as Bucher explains, "One general manager, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it is the second-biggest item on his budget, topped only by the cost of preseason training camp."

Now there is a financial incentive for teams to load their summer league rosters with more talent and to actually play to win. 

A drab exhibition experience will become a heated tournament that should draw a great deal more TV viewers. At least, that's the hope. 

I do, however, agree with some concerns voiced by SportsGrid's Jake O'Donnell in regard to what this will mean for the lesser-known NBA players. A renewed urgency to win may negate the future Jeremy Lins of the world from catching on, as Lin first made a name for himself while playing for the Dallas Mavericks' summer league team.  

The new bracket-style plan may work to the detriment of some amateur players, but it will no doubt be great for fans. Simply, if league woes are getting you down, just slap a bracket on it and watch interest explode. 


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