Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The NBA Playoffs are Communist

There are 30 MLB teams. 8 teams make the playoffs. Win the division, or have the 2nd most wins in the league. Those are the only two ways. 26.6% of the league make the postseason. The bottom 74.4% go golfing, get fat and wallow in their mediocrity and awfulness until the spring.

There are 30 NBA teams. Of those 30, 16 teams make the playoffs. Or 53.3% Yes – over HALF the teams make the playoffs. HALF!

I hate mediocrity. More specifically, I hate mediocrity of skill combined with mediocrity of effort which, when put together by the alchemy of a front office and coaching, creates a team of subpar halfwits that proclaim to be professionals, but in fact are just mediocre even at the very definition of mediocrity (Hope that was specific enough for you). The purpose of competition is winning. Don’t listen to Gordon Bombay – listen to legendary Hawks coach Jack Reilly – “It's not worth winnin’ if you can’t win big”. I know this is a terrible message for the kids out there, but it’s true. If you are not the best, you suck.

The NBA playoffs are a mockery in the face of the American dream. The bottom 8 teams won 60% of their games or less. Four teams made the playoffs with a winning percentage less than 57%. My God. Why don’t you just dress your children up in red and raise them Communist.

It is time for a change, followers of The Great Mambino. It is time for a new era – an era in which mediocrity of play and effort is not rewarded with rally towels, April TNT games and fans saying “well at least we made the playoffs”. This sense of complacency is RUINING our beloved NBA.

My proposal is simple – cut the field of playoff teams in half. 8 teams, 4 from each conference, same as baseball. 3 division winners, one “wild card”. Revenue streams aside (which is a big aside), there is no reason competition-wise to have an additional 8 teams make the playoffs. The NBA is not the NCAA. There are no Cinderellas. The best team, in almost every last 26 years of NBA basketball in which there have been 16 playoff teams, wins the Finals (the rare exceptions in my humble and correct opinion? The 1988 Detroit Pistons over the Los Angeles Lakers and the 2006 Dallas Mavericks over the Miami Heat). There has been 1 team lower than a 4 seed in a non-strike-shortened season to make or win the Finals in that timespan. That team? The 1995 Houston Rockets. The caveat? They were the defending champs.

These changes will never happen. I am realistic. David Stern is a smart man - The NBA makes too much money to cut out 8 teams and at minimum, 32 games from their postseason schedule to ever shorten the playoffs. What I am suggesting are merely in the spirit of competition, rather than in the spirit of capitalism. The fact that teams like the Celtics, Lakers, Mavs and Spurs have to play teams like the Nuggets, Bobcats, Bucks and Warriors is a travesty. This watered-down “competition” is not only a waste of time, but also takes away from the real competition later in the playoffs. Instead of Kevin Garnett being at his best in June, we have a guy who’s still pretty good, but tired from playing another two weeks of games.

I'm not winning this argument. I know that. I just hate that the NBA league offices should be located in Moscow.

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