Sunday, February 20, 2011

NBA All-Star Break State of the League Pt 1/2

The NBA is currently at the 2/3 break of the season, a time when those who matter gather for a weekend of parties and skills contests.

This hiatus offers teams a chance to get healthy while evaluating their prospects for the remainder of the season.

Teams can be placed in one of four groups: Championship contenders, playoff locks, on the bubble, and wretchedly bad. Of course, “wretchedly bad” in the NBA is used to describe teams that are only a move or two away, or simply a year or two away because of young talent, from being playoff locks…..and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Are we good enough right now? Should we make a trade? Do we give our rookie more time on the grill, or let him marinate and try to make a playoff run this season, despite the fact that we’ll be swept by the Heat? How does my hair look?

Questions surround every team, and it is time for some answers.


While front-office executives and coaches ponder the state of their franchises, players embrace this getaway from the daily grind that is the five month marathon of an all-you-can-eat buffet, 82-game, in-your-face season. It’s good to see some of your friends around the league-- old college buddies and the like.

After the pleasantries are over, when players reconvene with their respective teams, playoff races will start to heat up as teams look to secure the best seed possible. Home court is the name of the game.

Identities will be reinforced while statements are made, and recorded. Cheap shots will be thrown, retaliation will be inevitable, reputations and legacies will be on the line.

It’s Amazing.

But it can be so much better.

The NBA season is too long. At this point in the season, we know who the contenders and the pretenders are. We know which players are hoopin’ and which are poopin’. We know, if we’re an NBA team, how we must play in order to win with this particular group of players. We’ve stated our cases.

Let’s get the postseason started now.


In the immortal words of Chris Rock, “If it’s not new, it’s through”.
While the cartoon-faced character of a comedian was referring to marriages, he could very well have been describing everything. Things that get old are just that-old. While people ‘age’, buildings become ‘old’. Relationships ‘grow’, however, bread becomes ‘old’, hence the term ‘mold’. I think.

It’s time to renovate the old building and throw out the moldy bread.

All-Star weekend can go along as planned.

The league has a great relationship with the fans and this weekend is an integral part of that dynamic. We are within ear shot of our hoops heroes, some fans who sit courtside are within nose shot.

There is more of a connection among players and fans since players are exposed for the world to see: jersey, shorts, sneakers, and talent, and nothing else in between. The All-Star game strengthens this relationship and it should continue.

But it should take place at the end of a 53-game season, right before the start of the ‘postseason’.


Excuse me?

That’s 53 games. College teams rarely play more than 35 games a season, including the Final Four.

In 1999, teams played a 50-game NBA season due to a work stoppage, one that possibly looms again. There is no reason that 53 games cannot provide enough of a proving ground for determining which teams will advance to the postseason.

Many times it is a fact that ‘less is (indeed) more’.

In order to arrive at this magical number of 53, all we must do is eliminate one game against each team. Instead of two games against the other conference, there will be only one. That eliminates 15 games.

While the home and home series between opposite conference foes provides every NBA city at least one show with every star the league has to offer, one game every two years is ample time to reserve tickets for your favorite out of town squad. Miamians will still see Blake Superior every other year and Salt Lake City will still host Miami’s Big Treat every two seasons.

We can also eliminate one game versus conference opponents. Removing one out of 3 or 4 games against a given opponent is not going to reduce the effort needed to succeed during an NBA regular season. Just as removing 29 games from an 82-game season will not minimize the dedication needed to win a division, conference, or league title.

Games will carry more importance, even with a postseason, despite what some may say about a college football playoff possibly marginalizing regular-season games (Justin Case: the BCS system is gross). Your record during the season will still determine whether you keep playing, or go home saying. Just saying. Nothing else. Just saying things.

This leaves us with a fast-paced, three-and-a-half month, 53-game, 400-meter sprint professional basketball season.

Identities can be formed and statements can be made. However, they are more meaningful now. There is less time to make them.

Boston’s statement has been recorded, and the Heat have a copy on their desk.

San Antonio’s statement was delivered early and continues to resonate. The Lakers have record of it.


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