Of all the four major sports in North America, the NBA and NHL have the most in common.
They each play 82 games, almost half what the MLB plays and way more than the NFL plays. Their seasons run around the same time. Their playoffs run at the same time and they are similarly set up: four rounds, each round is a best of seven series.
The similarities stop there. No offense to the NBA, but the NHL playoffs are just way better.
If basketball players are upset with fans, they can run right up into the stands. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the idea of a seven-foot athlete having that much access to me.
How many hockey games would you go to if Shawn Thornton could just come right up into the bleachers to respond to your sign about him?
The glass serves as a buffer for fan safety. Although, sometimes, that doesn’t have an effect (John Tortorella, we’re looking at you).
Plus, the glass serves as an instrument to bang against in support of your team.
Not yet, at least.
Although there are two younger sisters that could veer away from basketball and football players to choose a hockey player...
For now though, our Stanley Cup Playoffs remain Kardashian-free.
Both the NHL and NBA have international players, but the NHL features more by far.
The majority of players come from North America, but each team typically also has players from a combination of: Russia, Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, etc.
Those countries are following their countrymen playing in North America, meaning the world is invested.
It’s interesting to think about.
NHL playoff games are found on VS and sometimes NHL Network, if they will begrudgingly give up two of about 17 daily showings of NHL On the Fly to broadcast a game, and NBC, who occasionally gets a weekend afternoon game.
The NBA games are on every channel at least once it seems. One has to follow the schedule closely to know which channel their game will be on.
It seems like it would be confusing.
Free throws: lame.
Penalty box: grown-up hockey version of the timeout. Sit in a box by yourself and think about what you’ve done.
Plus, the offending player is then surrounded by his fans or opposing fans.
Or in Mike Fisher’s case this playoffs, Green Men holding a cardboard cutout of his wife in an enemy jersey.
The NBA is all about its stars.
Sure, the NHL has a way of over-promoting some of their stars, but once the playoffs arrive and those teams are inevitably eliminated, fans are treated to team hockey.
Sure it sucks if your team is going into overtime because its so stressful, but it usually makes a great game even better.
In the NBA Playoffs, overtime periods are five minutes long. In regular season hockey, it is the same, along with being 4-on-4, instead of 5-on-5.
In the playoffs on the other hand, the game just goes into a 20-minute overtime period, just like another regular period, except that it is sudden death.
It can even go into double and triple OT, making it equivalent to two whole games.
In hockey, players have to get around goaltenders to score.
In basketball, players just have to have good aim and be able to throw over their opponent's head.
Hockey players can shoot the puck around an opponent, but there’s still a goaltender it has to get through to get in the net.
Because of this, goalies are vital, especially in the playoffs.
At the end of each NHL playoff game, the players have to line up and shake hands.
Even after all the tension and trash-talking in a series, the players all line up for the handshake line.
It promotes good sportsmanship.
In the NBA playoff system, they have it set up so that everyone knows if one team wins a series, they'll play the winner of another series.
It can add suspense, especially if a series goes into a Game 7, as we were treated to this postseason.
In basketball, teams score so quickly, that virtually no game is ever out of reach.
Therefore, basketball is unnecessary to watch until the last few minutes. You’ll never turn on a basketball game and go, “Oh I wish I’d had this on earlier to see Kobe get that two-pointer!” because guess what, he does it about 100 times a game.
Whereas Pavel Datsyuk will only score that beautiful deke…oh bad example because Datsyuk will do that again.
But you’ll also want to watch them again and again. They never get old.
Fighting in general is a reason why hockey is better than any other sport.
However, in the playoffs, teams are generally trying to stay out of the penalty box, so they really don’t fight that much.
Then when it does happen, it is that much more awesome.
Hockey fans are just better than basketball fans. There’s no one like them really.
The Vancouver Green Men, the octopus-throwing tradition in Detroit...we could go on all day.
The Stanley Cup is the most coveted trophy in all of sports.
Players who win get their name engraved on the Cup, as well as getting a whole day with it.
That’s unlike any other sport and makes it really cool.
Playoff beards are fun for two reasons: (1) some players have really awesome ones and (2) some players can’t grow anything due to “Baby-face Syndrome,” which sadly affects about two in 23 hockey players.*
It also provides a great excuse if you’re too lazy to shave. When you go into work and your boss asks why you look like such a slob, just say you’re a loyal fan and cannot shave for fear the team will lose.
As long as you live in the same city as your team, you should be good on that front.
*Disclaimer: Not intended to be a factual statement
This one needs no explanation, but I have provided a video, in case you live under a rock.
In the NHL playoffs, it is not just between a few teams. With the exception of the 2007-08 and 2008-09 playoffs, we've seen different opponents in the SCF.
In the NBA, there is a good chance that the Finals will be either the Heat versus someone, the Lakers versus someone or the Heat versus the Lakers.
You watch one NBA Playoffs, you’ve seen them all. Just check on the scores and you've experienced it, while gaining extra time to spend with your family or watching something else, like hockey.
Or hopefully, both. Most parents want a better life for their children than they had, so please spare them basketball and give them hockey. They’ll thank you one day.
Basketball players run back and forth across a court and shoot a ball at a net.
Hockey players have to master skating, puck-handling and the ability to stay on their feet/ recover quickly from checks.
No question which game requires more skill.
NBA games usually have at least two days in between games. This year, the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat had four whole days off between games.
You won't see that in hockey. Hockey has one, maybe not even that, depending on event schedules at the arenas.
And no one can argue that in an oftentimes (particularly in playoffs) brutal sport like hockey, hockey players would be the only ones needing two days between games.
Yet hockey players are tough enough to suck it up and play through it.
Which brings me to my next point...
Hockey is better than basketball due to pure physicality of the sport.
The game becomes even more physical in the playoffs, making it the most entertaining sport to watch.