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NBA Basketball: 10 Reasons Why It Is Better to Watch College Basketball Than NBA

Bryan DiemerContributor IIJanuary 9, 2017

NBA Basketball: 10 Reasons Why It Is Better to Watch College Basketball Than NBA

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    DALLAS, TX - JUNE 09:  Dwyane Wade #3 and LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat look on in the fourth quarter against the Dallas Mavericks in Game Five of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Center on June 9, 2011 in Dallas, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User ex
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Growing up in mid-Michigan, I was naturally a Detroit Pistons fan. For a while during my childhood, they had only the name of Grant Hill to defend their pride, and were often the laughing stock of their division.

    Then Joe Dumars took over and turned the franchise from one of the league's worst into eventual NBA champions (even with the draft flop of Darko Milicic). Following Detroit’s NBA championship in 2004, I realized something—NBA basketball is just plain boring to watch.

    Being a high school basketball coach and a former player (not to mention a lover of the game), it is extremely difficult for me to sit through an entire NBA game without it filling my brain with boredom.

    In the middle of the NBA finals between the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks, I can’t help but wish there was an NCAA basketball game on that I could watch instead of the snooze fest that is the NBA.

    Don’t get me wrong, the players in the NBA are there for a reason: because they are the best. You do not get to play professionally by being average. These players are the best in the world, which is part of the reason that I feel bored when I watch the games.

    This article will attempt to explain my reasoning as to why I would rather watch a matchup between 4-26 Towson and 10-22 William and Mary over just about any matchup that the NBA has to offer.

1. Game Atmoshpere

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    EAST LANSING, MI - JANUARY 21:  The Michigan State Spartans tip-off against the Iowa Hawkeyes at the Breslin Center on January 21, 2006 in East Lansing, Michigan. Michgan State won the game 85-55.  (Photo by Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images)
    Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images

    College campuses everywhere bleed their school colors, especially on game day. When their school hosts a conference foe, you can bet that the gym will be rocking during the game, with the home fans trying to cheer their team to victory.

    In the NBA, you rarely see a “whiteout”-type crowd (with the exception of the playoffs), whereas it is a regularity across the nation during the college basketball season.

    College basketball fans are loud and in-your-face. Trying to distract the other team is their main goal. They jump, they scream, they shush, they whistle, they wave giant cardboard heads of Dick Vitale, all in an effort to help their team win the game.

    In the NBA, even in the playoffs, the fans are too comfortable to get up and make noise for their team. The noise they make is by clapping their hands along with the music that is played while the teams are out on the court.

    In college, there is no music being played during the game, just the screams of raucous fans cheering their team on. The seats at any NBA venue are not designed to have fans standing during the game, where as the bleachers at a college gym invite a loud, rowdy, jumping crowd.

    The crowd noise and overall atmosphere of the game makes me choose the NCAA over the NBA ten times out of nine.

2. Speed of the Game

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    DALLAS, TX - JUNE 07:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat drives against DeShawn Stevenson #92 of the Dallas Mavericks in Game Four of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Center on June 7, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. The Mavericks won 86-83. NOTE TO USER:
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    As I mentioned before, the players in the NBA are the best of the best, but they don’t often play with much urgency, and part of the reason is because of the exhaustingly long schedule.

    They play an 82-game regular season with the potential for an additional 28 games in the postseason. This is compared to a 30- to 35-game schedule for any given college team. The length of the schedule means that NBA teams must conserve some gas in the tank for the long grind of the season, and possibly for the playoffs after that.

    The shorter college season allows its players to give 100% effort every game without fear of wearing their bodies down. This results in better defense, more fast break opportunities, and a better flow of the game.

    It results in the game being played the way it should be.  

    Also, in the NBA, how often do you see someone throw down a dunk and stand there for 3 seconds celebrating, rather than sprinting down the court to play defense like they should?

    When I watch the NBA, I see a bunch of overpaid athletes, giving average effort, jogging up and down the court. It looks like a glorified pickup game with a bunch of really good players just playing for fun.

3. Meaning of the Game for the Players

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    For college seniors hoping to make one last mark on their school, and striving for that elusive championship, there are few half-hearted efforts. Knowing that you are in your last season as a basketball player causes a lot of pain when it comes to an end.

    Being in the NBA (assuming you are not retiring,) you always have next year if this one doesn’t go the way you wanted to. The game means less if there is no chance of it being taken from you.

    When you have 4 years to prove yourself as a college player, you give everything you have in every game. When you have a 15 year NBA career, a bad game means nothing; you can just turn it around in the next of the 82 games.

    The heart that is shown in college basketball rivals NBA in so many ways. So often you will see a college player sacrifice his body to draw a charge.

    How many times do you see someone drive the lane in the NBA, only to have people foolishly try to block the dunk or just plain move out of the way? With fewer games to prove themselves, college players give a higher percentage of what they are capable of than most NBA players do.

    For college seniors hoping to make one last mark on their school, and striving for that elusive championship, there are few half-hearted efforts. Knowing that you are in your last season as a basketball player causes a lot of pain when it comes to an end.

    Being in the NBA (assuming you are not retiring), you always have next year if this one doesn’t go the way you wanted to. The game means less if there is no chance of it being taken from you.

    When you have four years to prove yourself as a college player, you give everything you have in every game. When you have a 15-year NBA career, a bad game means nothing; you can just turn it around in the next of the 82 games.

    The heart that is shown in college basketball rivals the NBA in so many ways. So often, you will see a college player sacrifice his body to draw a charge.

    How many times do you see someone drive the lane in the NBA, only to have people foolishly try to block the dunk or just plain move out of the way? With fewer games to prove themselves, college players give a higher percentage of what they are capable of than most NBA players do.

4. Player Power

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    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 24:  Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks attempts a shot agaist the Boston Celtics in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 24, 2011 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Th
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    How many times in the NBA, or in all professional sports for that matter, has a superstar forced his way off a team because of his own personal beef with management? How many times has a trade been granted where the team in question gets severely ripped off for letting their troubled star go?

    Think about the Denver Nuggets and their Carmelo Anthony deal and see if you change your mind.

    Players run the show in the NBA, which is not how basketball should be. LeBron James had the eyes of the nation watching him as HE chose where he wanted to play and where HE wanted to win a championship. He has all the power he wants to in Miami because of his big personality and big talent.

    Players have too much influence on things such as that, begging the question: how much power do the head coach and GM actually have over their team? Can you imagine Erik Spoelstra really getting in LeBron’s face for slacking off or being too selfish with the ball?

    I can’t because it would be all over the media, LeBron would be ticked off, he wouldn’t play hard, etc. Players have too much control over the way the game goes, which is why college coaches often do not do well in the NBA.

    They have to manage bigger egos, let the egos take over and try to be peace makers, all while trying to teach some of their younger players the game. In college, if a player has too big of an ego or won’t listen, coaches get rid of them.

    Think of what happened to Michigan State this past season with the dismissals of talents Chris Allen and Korie Lucious. Tom Izzo still has control of that team. I think he made the right decision to stay there rather than try to manage the ego-first superstars of the NBA.

5. Lack of Team Loyalty in the NBA

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    MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 31:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat posts up Anthony Parker #18 of the Cleveland Cavaliers during a game at American Airlines Arena on January 31, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    In professional sports, it is common to see a superstar leave his long-time team for a deal involving more money. Sometimes they just leave to chase a championship.

    We saw this when LeBron James made his “decision” and chose to join the Miami Heat, rather than remain a celebrity in his home state playing for his home team, the team that he had always played for.

    Instead, he left what seemed like an ideal situation in Cleveland (except for the lack of rings). We also saw it with the whole Carmelo Anthony fiasco, which had Anthony forcing his way off of his long-time team.

    When you commit to a team in college, 90+ percent of the time you finish your career with that team. Yes, there are transfers, but they are much less frequent than trades or free agent signings.

6. Offensive Sets

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    DALLAS, TX - MAY 25:  Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder shoots over Tyson Chandler #6 of the Dallas Mavericks in the fourth quarter in Game Five of the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center on M
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    So many times, I have watched a regular-season NBA game and seen the point guard dribble the ball up the floor, dribble for 15 seconds, and then take an off-balance shot without ever making a pass.

    Basketball is a team game, but when everyone can score at will, it takes a bit of the “human error” aspect out of the game. That “human error” is why we play sports. Just because a team is better on paper doesn’t mean they will always win the game (think back to 2001 when the No. 15 seed Hampton defeated No. 2 Iowa State.)

    If you watch a college game, you will no doubt see 15-25 different offensive sets that include multiple passes, back door screens, cuts and pick and rolls.

    In the NBA, the offensive set often includes a player like Dwyane Wade dribbling for a while with one or no passes and an off balance shot. There is not much of a “team” aspect to the NBA based on the way most offenses run.

7. Rule Changes

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    ORLANDO, FL - MAY 26:  Referee Joey Crawford looks on during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Orlando Magic and the Boston Celtics during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Amway Arena on May 26, 2010 in Orlando, Florida. The Magic won 113-92.
    Doug Benc/Getty Images

    There are so many rules in the NBA that are different from the NCAA that it feels as though it is a completely different game. These are all put in place to ensure that the games are higher scoring, that the superstars score more points and that people are entertained. Here are a few of them:

    a.       The Continuation Rule—If you get fouled on the floor, the foul should be on the floor. The NBA has come up with a way to get these superstar players to the free throw line more often, raising their scoring averages. Players get an additional two steps after being fouled in order to “complete the play,” which means “shoot the ball and draw the shooting foul.” I disagree with this on many levels, but mostly because it is just another way to get the superstars more points.

    b.      Defensive Three Seconds—In regular basketball, the defense can camp out in the lane, but in the NBA, there is a defensive three seconds rule. This prevents a team from putting a big guy in the lane to step in and stop a driving offensive player. Why do they do this? Because the NBA discourages defense, not openly, but with the rules that they have in place.

    This rule, like many of the other rules, prevents teams from actually playing good defense, as they would normally have someone in the lane to prevent LeBron James from taking a clear path for an open dunk. Players are late in rotating over because of this rule, which leads to higher-flying dunks, more highlights, higher-scoring games and an entertained crowd.

    c.       6 fouls—The NBA knows that people want to see the superstars play longer, so they gave them an extra foul. This means that they can play longer into games in order to score more points and keep that crowd entertained.

    This also means that players can be a bit more careless when it comes to fouling because they have an extra one to give. They tend to play defense a bit more relaxed which leads to getting beat to the basket and, once again, more scoring opportunities for the superstar offensive players.

    d.      24 -second shot clock—True basketball fans, in my opinion, enjoy watching a good defensive struggle from time to time. For me, I enjoy watching a game between the Wisconsin Badgers and the Purdue Boilermakers that ends in a 55-50 score. This means that the game was played how it was meant to be played, with good defense.

    Most people do not share my love for defense, which is why the NBA uses a 24-second shot clock. This means that more shots will go up and there will be more changes of possession, which both result in higher scoring games.

    Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan somehow imparts to his team the importance of playing defense for 35 seconds. If not, they give up more points and lose more games. Can you imagine NBA defenders, who sell out for the blocked shot way more often than they should, trying to defend for 11 more seconds than they are required to now? That would be a disaster.

    e.      Timeout taken at half court—This is a rule only applied with under two minutes remaining in the 4th quarter or overtime. In my opinion, an inbounds pass should be granted where the timeout was taken. This rule allows the offensive team to advance the ball 3 seconds up the court without even having to inbound the ball.

    It is a free advancement; why? Because it leads to higher-scoring games, better chance for overtime, a chance for the superstars to set their feet and get a good shot rather than shoot a runner, and much more.

    People will often talk about how “great” a finish was to an NBA game, but if you take a look at Bryce Drew’s game winner in the 1998 NCAA tournament, you will see a great finish to a game.  This rule takes finishes like this out of the question and makes “great finishes” more frequent, and therefore less “great.”

    f.        Sometimes it is not a change in the rules that gets me irritated, but the officials bending or ignoring the rules. The lack of traveling calls in the NBA just astounds me. In the beginning of the 4th quarter of Game 5 of the NBA Finals, Dwayne Wade switched pivot feet 3 times with no travel called…IN THE NBA FINALS. This means that the best officials in the world were there, and they could not see a travel that was right in front of them.

    Watch this video to see if you can spot it. If that doesn’t make you sick as a basketball fan, I am not sure what will. Here are some other examples of this rule not being enforced, all for your enjoyment. 1. 2. 3.

    Also, how many times does someone step in the lane on a free throw before the ball leaves the shooter’s hand? This is supposed to be a lane violation but is rarely, if ever, called. Don’t believe me? Watch the free throws carefully in the next NBA game you watch, you will see what I mean.

8. Spectacular Plays

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    There are so many good players in the NBA who can all throw down a spectacular, SportsCenter-type dunk. These “spectacular” plays happen with so much regularity, that they are just becoming another part of the game. In my opinion, they happen so often that they lose their “wow factor.”

    If you watch SportsCenter, you see dunk after dunk after dunk in the top 10 highlight reel. After seeing all these dunks, they become redundant.  A dunk is no longer a highlight, but rather just another play in the game.

    In the NCAA, you get two, maybe three SportsCenter-type dunks per night across the entire nation. In the NBA, you get two or three per team per game. These highlights happen with so much regularity, that I become bored watching them. It is just the same thing happening over and over and over.

9. Playoffs

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    HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 04:  Kemba Walker #15, Benjamin Stewart #23, Tyler Olander #10 and Kyle Bailey #21 of the Connecticut Huskies react after defeating the Butler Bulldogs to win the National Championship Game of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Not only do the NBA playoffs extend way too long into the summer months, but they are formatted in such a way that half the league makes the playoffs. It is a simple way of celebrating mediocrity. There have been teams that made the playoffs with a sub-.500 record, which is just ridiculous in my book.

    In the NCAA tournament, there are a bunch of teams with .650+ winning percentages that do not make the field. There are so many games in an NBA season that losing one of them hardly means anything. Losing one game in the NCAA tournament means that the season is over. This refers back to the slide about what the game means to the players.

    In the NCAA tournament, the players give it all. In the NBA, it does not always seem that way. They often just live to play another day. The playoffs also extend an obscenely long time after the regular season.

    There is a potential for another 28 games in the playoffs, which is almost a full season for a college team. For a bunch of guys who give partial effort in the 82 regular season games, they extend it another 28 to see what they are really made of.

    With half the teams making the playoffs, why don’t they just end the season after the All-Star break and then have the playoffs? Why not have a round robin tournament so they can extend the season even longer? Why don’t they just play all year long? I hope you catch my sarcasm.

10. Corporate Greed

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    MIAMI, FL - MAY 31:  NBA Commissioner David Stern answers questions from the media during a press conference prior to the Miami Heat hosting the Dallas Mavericks in Game One of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on May 31, 2011 in Miami, Flori
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    All of the rules changes, trades, and politics that are involved in the NBA are there for a reason: to sell tickets. The NBA is a business, plain and simple. They are out to sell the most tickets, sell the most nachos, sell the most merchandise, etc.

    They are not there for the sake of the game, but rather the money that the game can generate. All of those rules changes are to draw more fans: people who would otherwise not watch the game. It is to keep a bunch of people entertained for a while rather than to show a bunch of people the way the game should be played.

    College is about being the best basketball team possible and developing the best players possible. The NBA doesn’t focus on fundamentals, or defense, or offensive sets, it focuses on high scoring games with lots of lead changes and big plays.

    The players do not play the way the game is meant to be played, and that trickles down to the lower levels.

    I watch my high school players try to do things that they see in the NBA. They only watch the NBA, so they only try to do what NBA players do.They are trying to imitate the most talented players and their sometimes poor fundamentals and half-hearted efforts.

    By only watching the NBA, you lose a sense of what real basketball is, and this is a result of that corporate greed, doing whatever they can to sell tickets and make money.

Conclusion

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    HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 04:  Shabazz Napier #13 of the Connecticut Huskies with the ball against the Butler Bulldogs in the National Championship Game of the 2011 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at Reliant Stadium on April 4, 2011 in Houston, Texa
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Here is a fun little video that kind of sums up my article. Good to know that I am not the only one who feels this way.

    Remember that this is just my opinion, but I have thought about it for a long time. I did not just write this article on a whim, but after a long time of comparing and contrasting the NBA and NCAA.

    As I said before, the players in the NBA are the best of the best; that’s why they are there. That skill level, along with the other reasons I have provided, make watching the NBA a chore for me.

    The NBAs stray away from how I feel basketball should be played.

    Maybe that’s just the “coach” in me. Bring on the hate mail.

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