– Whitlock, you like the idea?
– No, I don’t because what I would like is for them to end this super team era that has driven us to the point where we’re even considering this. Because this has never been an issue until the super team era. And everybody started moving out west. And so– and it created this great imbalance. And again, I know you love the player empowerment and the players. And I get that. It’s good for the players.
But my pro point of view is about what’s good for the fans? What’s good for the paying customers? And the whole player empowerment. And I’m going to go play wherever I want isn’t good for the fans and has driven us to the point where the league is wildly unbalanced. And now we have to change the playoff format for those reasons.
– Yeah, I think it’s a bad idea because it’s one of those things that sounds good on the internet. And then you come up with a foot– you know. It’s like the BCS system for years I would get in the mail when people used to mail me stuff and my email account. And they’d send me this college football playoff format. And they all look good on paper. But nobody ever considered travel and preparation time. 1 through 16, so Portland’s playing Boston? Like you do– the travel would be so daunting.
Secondly, the last three NBA finals have had great ratings. Why are you trying to fix what’s not broken? The league’s never been more talked about. ESPN’s numbers are up. TNT’s numbers are up. The playoff numbers are up. What’s broken? Like– the–
JASON WHITLOCK: I’m not– I’m not so sure. That’s not a defense for the status quo, in my opinion. If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. And so I hear you saying they’re– they can still– you can still tweak things from a position of strength. It’s better to be ahead of the curve than behind the curve–
– So is this about– this is about LeBron. Essentially Adam Silver doesn’t want to get caught in July when LeBron go to the Lakers going. You know what? I’ve come up with this format change because TNT and ESPN are like, we didn’t spend $1.4 billion for the Wizards-Raptors in the East.
– Well that–
– This feels–
– That make sense. I mean, first of all, I don’t think this is related to the super team era. Because, I mean, a lot of the super teams have been in the East. Miami was in the East. Boston was in the East. Cleveland is a super team, not quite as super as Golden State. But when they had Kyrie, Love, and LeBron, they’re in the East. So I like the idea. The West has been better for the past 20 years. Since Michael Jordan left, the West has been far deeper.
You had a couple years ago, Oklahoma City misses the playoffs with 45 wins. Would have been the sixth seed in the East. I think this is about making sure the best teams get rewarded and make it to the playoffs.
COLIN COWHERD: But aren’t they now?
– No, because there are teams in the East that make the playoffs that are not as good as teams in the West that don’t make the playoffs.
JASON WHITLOCK: But again–
– I don’t like–
JASON WHITLOCK: –is going to be eight from each conference.
– That’s what I’m– I don’t like his suggestions. Because the only thing about that rule is it basically makes the conferences irrelevant anyway. It just makes sure the Eastern Conference teams have an advantage because they are playing a weaker schedule. Because they’re playing each other more.
– In all seriousness, it delegitimizes the conference championships. And I think there’s something about the geographical conference championships that I still think is important. You win the East for a reason. You win the West for a reason because you were the best team in those geographical areas of the country.
– I think this is– the reason it may not happen is because the Eastern Conference owners aren’t going to want it to happen. Because it helps weak teams in the East at least make the playoffs. I think you disband the conferences altogether. It already– it already doesn’t matter for All-Star games. It wouldn’t matter in this format– disband the conferences. You can keep the divisions for organization sake. And then take– even out the schedules.
You play everybody roughly three times. Some teams you have to play twice. And then you have the top six team best records. And go from there. I mean, travel– look– the players are flying charter planes. You get two or three days in-between each playoff game. Travel wouldn’t be that bad. It’d be bad for the writers and the media.
– Well, and–
– But not–
– –that’s important.
– –for the–
– And that’s important.
– No, I think we were– it feels panicky to me. Listen, next year in college football– want to bet Alabama is in the final? Women’s basketball– bet the Patriots win the AFC? Where do we have balance in sports? The Yankees are favored to win the American League. I just read yesterday, the Giants and the Dodgers in the National League, and the Cubs.
We are over– we’re hyperventilating because for a brief time, the great Warriors and the best basketball player in 25 years are kind of dominating the sport. If Gordon Hayward didn’t break his leg, it may not be like– if Kevin Durant twists an ankle, Houston’s in. Are we overreacting to this?
– I agree with you. I think it’s a bit of prisoner of the moment. But that is the era we live in. And term, social media, drives so much of conventional wisdom. And again, yes, I think it’s an overreaction to what Golden State and this year, Houston. Because, again, you’re going to have potentially– potentially– although, I think now the Cavaliers are a real shot. But before the Cavs trade, it was going to– the best series is going to be the Western Conference finals.
And the Eastern Conference is going to be an aftermath. Deal with it– move on– let it– let it correct itself like it already has, in my opinion. Because I think the Cavaliers are going to be there, and it’s going to be a great NBA finals.
– So do I– I–
– They’re one–
– –totally agree with you.
–team. This is– this is not becoming cyclical in my opinion. Like I said, the West has been better since Jordan retired– much deeper. I mean, it’s not even close. And that’s what this is about. You have good teams in the West that don’t make the playoffs that are saying, I could be fighting for home-court advantage in the East.
– But I– I would argue that’s always been in sports. The third best team in the SEC in the 90s didn’t get a play in certain Bowl games because– I mean, we’ve always–
– I think there may be a trend that Chris is talking about here as players make more money and as they have more freedom to move around. If you’ve got a bunch of money, don’t you want to live out west where the weather’s better? Don’t you want to a– seriously–
– And the South–
– Or Miami.
– Or the sea at. And so–
– But I’m with him. Star team– star power. It’s what galvanizes people to watch the NBA– it always has. It’s the one sport where you could take 10 champions over the last 30 years since 1980. And they’re almost the same teams. They’re almost the same franchises. You can’t do that with the NHL. You can’t do that with Major League Baseball. You certainly can’t do with the NFL. You can get hot as– you can get hot as a wildcard team in the NFL and when win the Super Bowl. You can’t do that in the NBA playoffs.
– In Hollywood, Marvel comics– everybody is making movies about superheroes. Everybody writes in a villain. That’s the key to a superhero movie. There’s got to be a hero– there’s got to be a villain. Lebron’s one of the both. The Warriors are both. Baseball does a lousy job to create storylines. The thing about the NBA when you have a top half that’s dominant, there are villains too. This is not bad for the league having dominant dynasties.