Ever seen the various commercials the NBA has run for years with the same tag line? The ones with celebrities, or former players, or even current players who end the 30 second spot with “I love this game”….It’s a catchy phrase, yet very simple and basically said what any NBA fan thought about pro basketball. Personally, I have been an NBA fan since exiting the womb, and do recall trying to dunk on my older brother when I was 7. Now granted, it was a Nerf hoop and it was stapled to the wooden post of our bunk beds, but I still tried…and usually failed to throw it down in his face with authority. FYI, he had me by about 18 inches at that time. Anyway, this sort of ritual occurred quite often right after watching games back when the NBA was blossoming. The 1980′s truly was the golden age of the NBA, with new stars like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Michael Jordan. It’s a game I miss, because the NBA game today is so much different. Various things have happened over the past 3 decades that has made this sport, well, not as good. Some changes need to be made, and I have 7 solutions to make it so “I love this game” once again….
1 – Star Calls - Over the last 10 years, how many times have you been watching a game, and the whistle blows…they show the replay and some “superstar” was barely nudged or maybe even breathed on wrong, and the refs called a foul on the defender who is not the “superstar”? Stars in todays game get the lions share of the calls, and it has gotten to be ridiculous. Yes, they are the ones who sell all the jerseys and stir the NBA drink. People come to see them, no doubt. But come on refs, just call the game….fairly.
2 – Flopping - Do I even need to explain this one? You all know what I mean. It….is….so….lame….Flopping has become an art form, and there are so many players across the league who are really, really good at it. As time goes on, more charges are called than ever, and half the time the replay shows the defender standing his ground only to get “plowed over” by a guy who is much smaller. It’s basically become if you can act like you just got kicked in the sternum by a mule, you are gonna get the call. I think if a guy flops, obviously no whistle and let play continue….and, upon league review, 10 flops equals a one game suspension, much like how the league treats technical fouls.
3 – Contraction - Much like the NHL, the NBA needs to scale down from 30 teams to about 26. This is a number the NBA was at during its heyday in the 80′s. The game exploded, they expanded, and as a result thinned out the talent pool throughout the league. Toronto, Sacramento, New Orleans, and Charlotte should be erased. These franchises have all struggled with keeping fans, or showing they are committed to fielding a quality product.
4 – Keep the condensed season - The lockout this season forced the NBA to slam 66 games for each team into 132 days. Don’t know about you, but this has been one of the more fun seasons to watch in many years. For instance, the Denver Nuggets this year may play 4-5 games a week, instead of 2-3 like any other year. It keeps the fans more tuned in, with less time between games. 66 games instead of 82 has made each game more important as well. Yes, the players have said they are more tired than other years. However, if the league did contract like I mentioned previously, there would be more talent on each team to use throughout the season to keep everyone fresh.
5 – Change The Draft Lottery - As it stands now, all the teams that don’t make the playoffs are thrown into the lottery to determine the NBA draft order. Depending on your final record, you get a certain number of ping pong balls in the hopper. The worst team gets the most balls and so on….What we have seen in recent years is that late in the season, teams that are out of playoff contention begin to tank games. They won’t say it, but it’s obvious they are trying to lose. The other night, the Golden State Warriors started four rookies, and it wasn’t to develop talent, trust me. I propose the team who finishes with the worst record is eliminated from being able to draft #1. This would ensure less teams tank games, and would make the overall product at the end of the year better.
6 – Throwback Uniforms - Yeah, it’s kinda fun when the Denver Nuggets bust out their old 70′s gear with the cartoonish Nugget on the front or the 80′s Denver rainbow skyline mess. All teams are doing this, and it’s for one purpose…money. They can then stock their team stores with this merchandise, and sell away. It has gotten out of hand though. Some teams have anywhere from 5-8 different uniforms now. Twenty years ago, teams had two outfits. Home white typically, and their dark road colors. That’s it. Nowadays when I flip on Sportscenter, sometimes I don’t know if it’s the Wizards vs Jazz or the Globe Trotters vs the Washington Generals.
7 – Revamp The Dunk Contest! - Anyone in their 30′s or older knows what I am talkin about. Back in the late 80′s – early 90′s, the dunk contest was must see TV. Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Spud Webb, Vince Carter, Shawn Kemp, and other legitimate stars were participating and it was absolutely electric. Something has happened over time, and now the dunk contest is so stale. It sucks. Stars won’t do it, and the slots are now filled with bench guys looking to make a name for themselves. It all comes back to money. There are enough sponsors for All Star weekend, so have a few come together and pony up….the best dunker wins $500,000. It’s sad, but money talks in this day and age, so it’s the only way to get LeBron, Durant, and Rose to bring life back to the dunk contest.
The NBA is still fun to watch, and has several young stars to build upon. I truly believe my 7 improvements would enhance the game though, and help it get back to what it used to be. Feel free to give me your thoughts and what YOU would do, if anything, to make the NBA product better. Comment below, NBA fans!
Denver Sports by J Simp