Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Perfect NBA

For the people who find this topic familiar, this my original post from way back when:

The original topic was actually replied-to a long time after it was originally posted so some of the later replies have different context, just to let you know. Given all that, I'm updating my list for 2008.

1. Abolish conferences and divisions, and have each team play the other twice.

This goes against my original post which called for playing 4 times. The reason is simply that the season as it is is extremely long. Because of that, players and teams are more likely to take games off (whether intentionally or not). This is a situation where less is more: the importance of an individual game in the regular season would be magnified, as teams would vie for home court advantage in the playoffs. How ridiculous is it that this year we have 4 western conference teams struggling for the last couple spots in the west when they would be comfortably placed in the East? Also considering that they are playing against tougher competition more often?

The reason a lot of people cite for divisions existing is rivalries. I contend that rivalries based on team performance are much better than rivalries based on geography. Why add additional games to the season just to develop rivalries that may never come about?

The practicality of this does get called into question though, as I'm uncertain how arena revenues would be affected. The season would have roughly 15 home games rather than 41. This should keep the arena contract costs lower, but would definitely make getting arenas built for games quite a bit more difficult. Then again, if the NFL can do it then it should be possible.

2. New Playoff Format

Like my old post, I would want teams seeded according to their overall ranking, regardless of location. This gives us a true playoff in which teams are ranked according to their regular season performance.

All series would be best of 3. This is taking my old idea of abolishing the 7-game series entirely to the extreme. This makes homecourt advantage HUGE, and ups the ante of every single game. This would also give the Finals more of a Superbowl vibe, rather than be the 5th most exciting matchup of the postseason, as it often tends to be. The best team may be a bit less likely to win, but the greater level of excitement is more than worth it.

3. TV Referee

I touched on this idea in the old post, citing that the NBA needs instant replay. People responded by saying that it would bog the game down unnecessarily, and upon further review, I agree. Instead, I'd love to see a referee that sits at the scorers table and views the game from the TV screen. It gives additional angles for better refereeing on individual calls and can serve as a proactive review area for officials as the game goes on. It also gives refs more accountability--those questionable calls that are so obvious to us on ESPN are going to be EXACTLY what the ref sees. So if they screw up, they're going to look pretty bad, and don't really have any excuses.

The NBA supposedly critiques every referee call after every game anyway, so they are still reviewing calls using (I'm assuming) the same game footage that we see on TV. Why not give the referees on the floor that perspective as well? At worst it would expose the shortcomings of the all-too-human referees, and at best it gives us more accurate officiating.

4. Abolish suspensions and ejections, especially in the Playoffs

Punishment for egregious behavior is necessary, especially on the global stage of the NBA. Suspensions and ejections however, aren't the solution. Who is getting punished when Tim Duncan gets ejected for yelling at a referee? Amare and Diaw leaving the bench to come to Nash's aid after an Horry shove? Players getting into a shoving match over a hard foul?

It's the team and the fans that pay. National TV ratings pay dearly anytime a superstar gets suspended prior to a big ESPN or TNT game. Fans that pay big money to see their favorite player are suddenly left hanging. The game in which it occurs becomes called into question. Subsequent games lose meaning and/or interest.

My solution? Ramp up the fines big time. If a player gets fined 5% of his annual salary for each ejection, I have a feeling he will control his temper. The league can review individual cases for more serious occurrences and levy a fine accordingly. What happens if rather than a season-long suspension, Ron Artest had to pay his entire salary minus per diem in fines? The point is to penalize the player himself. Not his team, not his fans, not the TV companies, not the league.. just the player.

5. All-star weekend

Dunk Contest - This year we have fan-voting, which is interesting in that it gives a LOT of power to the commentators (Kenny Smith anyone?), and raises the inevitable issue of it turning into a popularity contest if certain players enter the field. God forbid Yi Jianlian enters the contest and wins on a two handed reverse jam.. However, make the field BIGGER! This event is a huge fan draw and limiting contestants to relatively unknown young players really keeps it from becoming a big deal again.

3-Point Contest - Not much to improve upon. As with the Dunk contest, I'd want a bigger field. Perhaps set aside a couple of spots for fans to vote on who they want to invite to the contest.

Skills Challenge - I don't like it at all in it's current incarnation. For whatever reason it has drawn some very good players to play in it, but it doesn't strike me as particularly exciting or indicative of skill. I'd love to see this replaced by a 1-on-1 tournament of 8 players. Monta Ellis vs. Kevin Martin? Deron Williams vs Chris Paul? How about Steve Nash against Dwight Howard? Now THAT's a skills challenge.

That stupid event with WNBA/NBA/retired players - Why does this even exist? Does anyone honestly care about this at all? Other than being a way to get more players involved in all-star weekend, it's pretty bad. I would rather see a shootaround or something. I'd scrap it for a longer dunk contest.


john said...

on the skills challenge.. I think it would be cool if nba all stars played the ultimate game of horse and betted on themselves. I don't think that's legal but how about winner gets a fat check.

bark said...

This has actually been done before, minus the big check..