There was a time when people actually cared about the NBA. As a child of the 80’s and 90’s, I grew up watching the NBA when it really was “Fantastic”. Back when great players like Jordan, Bird, Kareem, Magic, and so many more made it exciting to watch professional basketball. Fast forward to today and the game just doesn’t have that same level of excitement for me. You know it is bad when I’d rather watch a cheesy show like Keeping Up With The Kardashians then catch an NBA game on TV. So where did it all go wrong you ask? Well allow me to dissect the NBA as it exists today and how I think they can fix the problems.
With the current state of disarray that the NBA is in, where does one start? Well the one thing that killed the style of basketball I grew up watching is the concept of the “free agent”. Free agency killed the days of a player sticking it out with a team and not chasing the dollar. Now before you get all up in arms, I am not against a player getting paid for their talents. What I am against are these star players that leave their teams in shambles to collect a big pay day. With all these players shifting teams it ruins the rivalries that make the game so great. Can you even name a solid rivalry that exists in the NBA today? I think the NBA should take a page out of the NFL playbook and allow you to tag a player (or two) with a franchise tag. The NFL adopted this concept to minimize the movement players to larger markets. The tag would allow teams to keep unrestricted free agents for one more year. If the tag is placed on you, the player receives the average salary of the top 5 players at the position. Any other interested teams can make an offer for that player. However, the original team gets an opportunity to match any offer. Just imagine how well this would work in the NBA. Who knows Cleveland may still have LeBron for another year? Orlando could’ve kept Dwight? At the very least these teams could have received two first round draft picks if the player decided to sign with another team. Maybe this also helps with solving the next issue which is this concept of “tanking”.
It seems like teams have decided to take this season off and purposely lose or “tank” in order to get a shot at a top draft pick. It seems like owners are salivating over this year’s draft class which contains the likes of Andrew Wiggins (from Kansas), Jabari Parker (from Duke), Marcus Smart (from Oklahoma State), Joel Embiid (from Kansas) and so many more. I’m sorry but the days of drafting another LeBron, Carmelo, Durant etc. are done. I just don’t see any of these draft prospects amounting to much or at least reaching superstar status. Anyways, I will get off my soapbox about this year’s draft class. In all fairness, there are some talented players but none that will take the league by storm. Let me get back to this nonsense of tanking. Everybody can’t stop talking about how these teams are trying to lose on purpose. None of these “tanking” teams will admit it either but we all know it is true. The records of some of these teams is all the evidence you need. However, I got the solution to help prevent people from tanking. The lottery system is obviously outdated. I think the NBA should implement draft incentives based on the team’s performance. For example, if a team makes the playoffs then they are awarded (x) number of lottery balls. Team over .500 then you are awarded another (x) number of lottery balls. Using the same logic, I feel like you should be able to take away lottery balls if a team is not performing well. For example, if your team is under .500 you lose (x) number of lottery balls. I say level the lottery playing field a bit by rewarding and penalizing based on a team’s performance. Think about how often a championship team gets dismantled. So a team that may lose their stars to free agency because they won a championship should be punished for doing so? Also, I think a rule should be instituted that if you get the number 1 pick, you cannot have it for another 2 years. I really believe that this system will make teams rethink about “tanking” especially if they lose a shot at a solid draft pick.
Playoffs? We talking about playoffs? Man that reference never gets old. I will tell you what does get old is having to watch a 7-game series throughout the NBA playoffs. Let me start by saying that this battle will probably be lost before it starts. We all know that those extra games mean more money from TV networks, commercials, ticket sales, etc. Trust me I get it. Personally though, i would love to see the 16 NBA teams with the best record (regardless of conference) play in a March Madness style tournament to see who wins the championship. Imagine seeing an upset of a Miami or Oklahoma City by a 15th or 16th ranked team? Tell me that you wouldn’t watch that so I can slap you for being unreasonable. I still think a best of 7 series is not necessary and should go back to best of 5. However, I may be willing to let this argument go if they changed the playoff format.
Finally, the last beef I have with the NBA involves the referees. I cannot tell you how many games (regular season and playoffs) have been ruined by poor officiating. It amazes me how many times I see your superstars of the league benefit from touch fouls. I watched a video where they interviewed Gary “The Glove” Payton. Payton brought up his playing days where the refs blew the whistle when there was a true foul. He also talked about how defense has been removed from the NBA. Teams like the Pistons of the 80’s/90’s would foul out or get ejected in every game. The league makes it difficult for teams to defend against these stars! Why? Well because fans pay money to see high scoring games. Not me though, I would rather see a defensive battle where teams score in the 70’s or 80’s. The refs just need to let the players play! Blow your whistle when it is a blatant foul. Otherwise put your whistle away ref cause you are ruining the game. Another excellent question proposed by GP was how often do you see superstars foul out? How is it that a LeBron James can go several games without committing a foul? When was the last time Kevin Durant fouled out? The Glove brought some interesting perspective to today’s game.
Man this post took a lot out of me. After reading this wonderful rant, I will be sitting near my phone Adam Silver. For those that don’t know, Adam Silver is the new Commissioner of the NBA. I got lots of ideas Adam if you want to give me a holler. Hell I will work on retainer or as a consultant. Give me a try and I will throw in how I plan to solve the NBA All-Star events (specifically the dunk contest). At the very least Mr. Silver, you can tweet me @manbehindclouds.
I would love to hear your thoughts sports fans! Comment comment comment!