– So instead of Eastern Conference, Western Conference, you just put the best teams 1 through 16 and they all play. And you know, classic, the internet thinks it’s the greatest idea ever. It’s great on the internet. It’s not great in real life. First of all, this idea has been discussed for over a decade. Why the urgency now? Because LeBron James may bolt to the west and Adam Silver knows he’s got to networks– TNT and ESPN– each paying $1.4 billion or more a year and they don’t want to get saddled every other year with the Wizards and the Raptors.
So that’s why this thing’s been talked about for over a decade. Now, there’s all this urgency because if LeBron goes in July to the Lakers, Adam Silver doesn’t want to say, guys I’ve got this newfangled idea. He wants to create a sense of, we’re thinking about it, we’re plotting, this could happen any day now. Ideally– don’t kid yourself. The last three NBA finals, the ratings have been unbelievable. There’s nothing broken here. There is nothing broken with the NBA.
There are fewer awful teams today than there were in Michael Jordan’s years. Look it up. Percentage-wise, during Jordan’s years, there were seven unwatchable teams and there were fewer teams. Like there’s only about two teams in the league now that are hapless. During Jordan’s year there were like six, and there were significantly fewer teams in his heyday– or at least fewer teams, I’m not sure if it was significantly fewer, but there were fewer.
So the league’s not broken. This is about LeBron going west and the league being trapped and the TV partners complaining. And I’ve always had this theory about sports. We didn’t need anything new past about 1988. Like, smart people figured out sports by the 80s– anything added after that outside of a rule to ensure safety for the athlete, I’m kind of against.
We didn’t need these new NFL teams. We didn’t need the Jacksonville Jaguars. We didn’t need the Charlotte Hornets. We didn’t need these new– we didn’t need the Tampa Bay Rays. Anything created after about ’85 in sports was to make rich guys richer. It was for TV partners or greed. We don’t need this. First of all, the travel would be brutal is you have Boston-Portland in the first round. Here, right now, if you went to 1 and 16, I argue, it’s just interleague playing baseball. It sounds great, but in the end, if you really think about interleague baseball, are you really jacked to watch the Reds and the Indians outside of Ohio? No. D-backs A’s really getting your family in the car to drive cross country? No. It was unique, and after the unique wears off, it’s still just average baseball.
Our staff did this– here are the first round playoff games that would happen if you had the 1 through 16 format. And you’re going to tell me these are significantly more captivating than what you’d have? Houston-Miami– that’s a sweep. Washington-Indiana– wake me when it’s over. Boston-Portland’s probably a five game series. Cleveland-Denver, Golden State-New Orleans, Minnesota-Milwaukee– like that those are a notch above the current playoff games? Not really.
So the travel would be brutal. It’s an idea that sounds great on paper, but it’s interleague play. After the newness wore off, four years later, you’re watching Denver against LeBron. Like that’s much more fascinating than Milwaukee against LeBron. I’d rather see the Greek Freak against LeBron than Denver against LeBron.
Here’s the third thing– and this is a real thing– is that what we know about the NBA because the season is so long, is that seeding is kind of irrelevant. Even in that Tim Duncan-Gregg Popovich heyday years– they were the number one seed very often. They won championships when they weren’t the number one seed. The key was resting stars and getting ready for the postseason.
So the seeding isn’t true seeding. The number one seed is likely not the number one team. It’s a young talented team like a Minnesota that wants to have home court advantage. The best team would be the Warriors. You’re even seeing it now– the Warriors are going on the road and getting beaten by average teams. So you’re not going to get true seeding.
So like the Celtics could be the third best team in the league but seeded fifth. And LeBron’s team could be the best or second best team in the league and seeded sixth. So then the problem is, you could have LeBron play the Warriors early in the playoffs, and they’re out of it. Is that good for the league? The Celtics end up against the Warriors in the second round. Is that good for the league?
A lot of these things sound great on the internet, on your blog, but that travel would be brutal. You don’t really get true seeding. You’d have good teams eliminated earlier than you do now. And frankly, it’s interleague play. It would be good for a couple of years, but you’d end up having Denver against LeBron. That’s worth changing it? This is about Adam Silver creating urgency so if LeBron goes west, it doesn’t look like– even though it is– it doesn’t look like LeBron’s changing the league.
The NBA and its partners never want to look like one player dominates the league, one player is changing legislation, changing rules. But that’s what it is. They’re just prepping everybody so if LeBron goes west, you create this and it doesn’t feel like you’re doing it because LeBron went west.