The most meaningless exercise in sports began a few weeks ago as the NBA regular season tipped off their annual trek of back-to-backs in Memphis and Detroit, resting starters, and an absence of drama like nothing else in sports.
The season commenced just in time for ESPN and the like to begin an endless diatribe of meaningless, gossip-centric storylines that fit better on TMZ than a legitimate sports outlet.
I personally can’t wait until such esteemed analysts like Stephen A. Smith and Jalen Rose breakdown LeBron’s latest subtweet. That is what NBA coverage has to resort to instead of breaking down the inconsequential games that encapsulates the NBA’s slate from October to May.
TNT’s coverage is fantastic, but on ESPN, with the exception of Doug Collins, is there a sorrier collection of buffoons in sports media? Smith and Rose are just the tip of the iceberg as you have the liked of Chris Broussard, Jeff Van Gundy, Tim Legler, and Mark Jackson spewing nothing but hot air (I know a lot of people like Van Gundy and Jackson, but I find their banter completely uncompeling and quite frankly Van Gundy’s voice is like nails on a chalkboard).
What draws fans to sports in general is the storyline of an underdog, a manifestation of the unpredictable – it is what makes March Madness the best sporting event in the world, it is what makes wild card runs in baseball and football memorable, it is why Cinderella stories on other non-mainstream sports (Olympic sports, horse racing, boxing, etc.) become national headlines.
The NFL has become the number one sport in America because of parity. With exception of Cleveland and San Francisco, every NFL city had reason to hope coming into this season – that is pretty much the exact opposite of the NBA business model.
The NBA’s slogan is “Amazing Happens Here,” a more apropos mantra would be “The Predictable Happens Here.”
There are exactly three teams who can win the NBA Championship….and that is stretching it. The Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, and Cleveland Cavaliers and we have to wait seven months to see those teams play (Yea, ESPN will tell you how the Clippers and Thunder are threats, but like the rest of their coverage, that is just more spewing of hit air).
People are blinded to this fact because in the 1980s David Stern had a masterful marketing concept of showcasing the individuals instead of the teams.
This has caused an epidemic where players like James Harden, John Wall, Dwight Howard, and Carmelo Anthony, who have not won anything worth a damn in their careers, are burgeoned as superstars. Who cares if their teams continually underachieve, they put up good stats.
The regular season mercifully comes to an end in April, but just when you think things will improve, the NBA’s first round of the playoffs lacks just as much suspense as the regular season. What little suspense it had, was eliminated by David Stern in 2001 as he changed the series from best of five to best of seven.
Can you name the last substantial upset in the NBA playoffs? Warriors over Mavs in 2007 is the only thing that comes to mind.
Don’t get me wrong, NBA players are incredible athletes. Their skill and talent can be awe-inspiring, but what good is that talent if they don’t have the motivation to put it on display on a nightly basis?
The NBA either needs to shorten the regular season or limit the number of teams who make the playoffs to four or six. Both of those scenarios would increase the importance of each game and would without a doubt increase attendance. This will never happen because of the money-grabbing owners, but it is the only way to make the regular season compelling.
These are just a few complaints that don’t even cover the flopping that has enveloped the league, or the fact that the only way a team can improve is through tanking, and the fact that officiating is generally terrible.
Seriously, I have never seen an institution get a free pass like the NBA did with Tim Donaghy. He was literally fixing games and completely tarnished the integrity of the product, you really think he was the only one?
I don’t have enough characters to fully list my complaints about the NBA. Contrary to what the above may suggest, I am a big basketball fan, but if you want to find me I’ll be watching college basketball for the next five months. Their season tipped-off last Friday and in those games, you saw more heart, effort, and atmosphere than anything the NBA has to offer before June.