As much fun as the 2017 NBA Finals were, the playoffs leading up to it were a disaster. A quick look out West showed the now champion Golden State Warriors barely breaking a sweat through their first twelve playoff games, going 12-0. A brief look out East showed the Lebron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers going 12-1.
Aren’t we as fans bored of such a predictable bracket, where blowout victories are the norm, rather than the exception? Doesn’t the NBA, and more importantly its fans, deserve a better product to back up the outrageous salaries given to these athletes? If any professional sports league was in dire need of a “reshuffle,” it’s clearly the NBA.
Think about what makes the NCAA’s March Madness bracket so much fun: unpredictability. When companies are willing to gamble a cool million dollars for whomever can complete a perfect tourney bracket, that clearly shows why the NCAA is more fun to watch than the NBA. The pure joy of watching live sports is due to the fact that we don’t know what is going to happen next, unlike that blockbuster movie we’ve seen ten times before.
If the NBA truly cares about the product it is putting on the floor and wants to protect the longevity and integrity of the league, it must find a way to address all this parity between the top two teams (Cavs/Warriors) and everyone else. While it is easy to blame the “Era of the Big Three” on Lebron James’ infamous “Decision,” it is just as easy to blame the media outlets such as ESPN for force feeding free agency movements as a good thing for the NBA. The casual fan is clearly not going to stick around for long if they know that the playoff product before the Finals is going to be garbage.
Where does the NBA even begin to address these huge issues? For starters, they should really evaluate the way the next Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is structured for the future. If the commissioner, Adam Silver, continues to think that these super teams are great for ratings, then so be it.
One thing is for sure, as many casual fans the NBA acquires during this “era,” they will be sorely missing out on their core audience of knowledgeable basketball fans. Rest in Peace, NBA. You had a great run, but the time has come to take a long hard look in the mirror.