NBA: Why the League Needs To Expand Its Divisions for One More City
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Ever since the Oklahoma City Thunder relocated from Seattle, a city with as much basketball history behind it as Oklahoma City has history with its Sooners College Basketball, many of Seattle’s natives are still feeling the shocking and disheartening reality of not having an exciting basketball franchise. It happened before with the Grizzlies relocating from Vancouver to Memphis back in 2001 and that same year, Charlotte lost their franchise team, the Hornets as they relocated to New Orleans. Ironically, however, back in 1979 the then New Orleans Jazz relocated to Utah. What’s even worse is that the New Orleans Hornets don’t have an owner and has to look to the NBA as their owners and possible relocation. And with all the people in Seattle clamoring daily to NBA Commissioner David Stern about bringing back their beloved Supersonics to the NBA once more. And with that in mind, I came up with six cities and/or states worthy of having a NBA Franchise along with a specific division they would be most suitable in.
The Southeast Division
Teams: Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Bobcats, and Washington Wizards
New Team(s): Tampa or Virginia
Let’s face it, when it comes to the Eastern Conference in the NBA, the Southeast Division is perhaps the most exciting and the most competitive of the divisions, let alone the entire NBA. Adding a sixth team to the Southeast Division would be a plus. Tampa would be a good place to have an NBA franchise. Besides, they were one of the three Florida cities that were vying for a franchise when the NBA expanded into Florida at the time. Since then, all Tampa has so far are the Buccaneers, the Rays, and the Lightning. The icing on the cake would be to have a basketball team there but the downside would be that they would have to compete against would be state rivals, Orlando and Miami. Virginia has some history regarding basketball. Does the Squires and the ABA ring a bell? If so, then you know that Virginia has a legit chance of not only having a franchise but also bringing back the Squires. It would be a win-win for the state and fans of the ABA itself.
The Atlantic Division
Teams: Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, and Toronto Raptors
New Team: Pittsburgh
The Atlantic Division in the NBA as I remembered it consisted of seven teams that included Miami, Orlando, Washington, Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York, and Boston. Nowadays, the Atlantic Division is nothing more than the personal stomping grounds for the Boston Celtics and the re-surging New York Knicks. Not much competition and intensity has been brought from this one division except for the aforementioned Celtics and Knicks but the addition of having another team to step in and throw their weight around as well. Pittsburgh is as tough of a city as you can think of. Why Pittsburgh? The 76ers are looking sluggish; and Andre Iguodala and Evan Turner aren't really the new Julius Erving and Moses Malone Philly had in mind. Pittsburgh would be a great addition to this division despite the fact that they're nowhere near the Atlantic Ocean (and so is Toronto) but they're also a sports city having won numerous championships with their teams such as the Steelers, the Pirates and the Penguins, all in the colors of black and yellow. Pittsburgh also used to have a basketball team named The Condors. It would be nice to see the Condors make a return to the NBA and given the traditional Pittsburgh color scheme makeover, dropping the red and gold for the black and yellow and a serious looking mascot, too.
The Central Division
Teams: Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Chicago Bulls, and Milwaukee Bucks
New Team: Cincinnati
The Central Division is the second most exciting division behind the Southeast Division and the grittiest due to the resurgence of the Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks as well as the scrappiness of the LeBron James-less Cleveland Cavaliers. A franchise being awarded to Cincinnati would make the Cavs somewhat happy, wouldn’t it? Well, let’s find out: since Cleveland and Cincinnati are rival cities of one another in both football and baseball, it would be great to see another state rivalry in Ohio, this time in basketball. Yes, Cincinnati did have a basketball team before called the Royals, who are now the Sacramento Kings but a new franchise would definitely get Cincinnati into having us like Cleveland again…even if they don’t have he who shall not be named yet who plays in Miami. Cincinnati would definitely be a forerunner and favorite to have a sixth team for an already gritty Central Division.
The Southwest Division
Teams: Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Hornets, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, and Dallas Mavericks
New Team: St. Louis
The Southwest Division is also what the Southeast Division is in the NBA: exciting, keeps you on the edge of your seat, and always coming back for more. St. Louis also has some of the same attributes as the Southwest Division itself because it’s not only “The Gateway to the West” but the city is also located in Missouri, The Show-Me State. It wouldn't be the Western Conference or even the Southwest Division if you add St. Louis into the mix. And like Virginia, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati, St. Louis also has some sort of basketball history as well during the days of the ABA as the well-known Spirits of St. Louis. St. Louis is also a sports city with a huge market that has high potential for the NBA as already the city has found success for the Rams, the Cardinals and the Blues. St. Louis would also be a great addition to the already Texas team dominated Southwest Division.
The Northwest Division
Teams: Oklahoma City Thunder, Minnesota Timberwolves, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, and Portland Trail Blazers
New Team: Seattle
The Northwest Division when it first came into inception consisted of Portland, Utah, Denver, Minnesota, and Seattle. And while Portland and Seattle are geographically in the Northwestern United States whereas Utah and Denver are in the Rocky Mountain regions and Minnesota in the Midwest, the Northwest Division is a hodge-podge of places thrown in together because they’re either up north or they’re somewhat closer to Portland. But ever since Seattle lost their franchise back in 2008 to Oklahoma City, you would think that there would be an uproar for an expansion just to bring Seattle back; like a petition and a website dedicated to bringing back the Sonics. The days of Lenny Wilkens, Jack Sikma, Gary Payton, and Shawn Kemp as well as Detlef Schrempf are still remembered as legends in Seattle whereas Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, and Russell Westbrook are looked upon as could have beens. If the NBA brings back Seattle, the first thing to happen will be a huge turnout all season long regardless if they win or lose. Second thing to happen would be that Seattle would welcome the Oklahoma City Thunder (former Sonics) only to boo and heckle and hiss repeatedly. But all in all, Seattle would be nonetheless thrilled to have their beloved Sonics…even if there would be a new arena in a city not Seattle.
The Pacific Division
Teams: Sacramento Kings, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, and Phoenix Suns
New Team(s): Hawaii or Vancouver
The Pacific Division consists of four California teams (Lakers, Clippers, Kings, and Warriors) and one team from Arizona, that being the Phoenix Suns. And if the NBA is looking to expand into different markets out west, here’s one thing to avoid: Not another California team! Los Angeles has the Lakers and Clippers, although the latter is usually shared between San Diego and at times Anaheim, Sacramento has the Kings, and Golden State, which is actually Oakland and San Francisco have the Warriors. A change of scenery would be good for the Pacific Division and good for the Phoenix Suns, having to be the only team in that division to not be a California team. First of all, Hawaii is an untapped market with huge possibilities. All Hawaii is known for is their beaches, pineapples, hula dancers, Hawaii Five-0 and the Pro Bowl, the NFL all-star game that takes place a week after the Super Bowl. But can you also imagine, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, and Dwight Howard playing against an expansion NBA team from Hawaii? I sure could. The advantage would be that Hawaii would finally get a sports franchise rather than just being known for having the Pro Bowl in the NFL. The disadvantage would be the fact that Hawaii is very far from the Continental U.S. and no team would want to travel far to play against a team who are from a chain of islands. That also could be said on Hawaii’s end as well, which means there would be a long schedule to combat this but most people would be too lazy to experiment with this possibility. Vancouver, on the other hand, despite having only a hockey team with the Canucks, and being the alternative hometown of Steve Nash, Vancouver should be given yet another chance to come back into the NBA because Toronto must be feeling very lonely being the only Canadian team in the NBA. Vancouver’s return to the NBA would give not only Canada some options on having a Canadian league of their own but also having Canada’s awareness in basketball raised again. And like Seattle’s possibility of having a season game against Oklahoma City, Vancouver should do the same with Memphis. In conclusion, the NBA needs to expand to one more city in each division for the sole purpose of expanding their markets to viable cities that are sports marketable and have won championships in the past. If David Stern decides to expand, let’s hope that he takes the city of Seattle’s consideration to bring back the Supersonics. After all, they wanted to keep their history intact and not let another city inherit it for their own.
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