Snarky Behavior

NBA Cares

June 15, 2007 · 2 Comments

Canada’s finest.

Bill Simmons of Page 2 has an extremely interesting observation about the current state of the NBA:

We’ve reached a point with the NBA when its offseason somehow became more interesting than its actual season(…)the point [when] it’s more enjoyable to watch GMs tinker with their teams than watching those teams actually play. Isn’t this a major, major, MAJOR problem? You could even call it a crisis, right?

From my perspective, the short answer is: no, it’s not a crisis. But for me to take interest in the NBA it would require the following formula:

Jon’s Interest = Slam Dunks([Players' Interest* + structured offenses + team passing - zone defenses - primadonnas - flopping - grabbing] + 4[Lakers Being Good]**)/(1/Competition Level of Games)

*Players’ Interest = [(Salary)(Effort + Pride - Habitual Marijuana Use]/(years left on contract)(# games per season)
**I’m a Laker bandwagoner, what can I say?

Now, I’m pretty sure that most sports fans’ “personal interest equations” in the NBA are some variation of the above. Nobody’s watching Game 4 of the Finals right now (myself included) because the Spurs are a dirty team and the Cavs are a crappy team. It’s pretty simple. I watched game 1 just to see what LeBron might do, but Bruce Bowen grab-(har)assed him for 40 odd minutes, and that was that.

I’ll be honest: the only really compelling characters in the NBA right now are: Steve Nash, Shaq, Mark Cuban and Charles Barkeley. And to a lesser degree, Allen Iverson, Bill Simmons, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Eva Longoria and David Stern.

Now, you may have noticed: Of the above mentioned, only five of the ten actually, you know, play in the NBA (and Shaq’s on his way out). The others are: a retired NBA legend-cum broadcast analyst, the Commissioner, an owner, a sports-writer and a desperate house-wife.

I’m not going to offer a prescription for the NBA because I don’t care enough about the league to put forth the effort. I think that it’s been over-managed, the salary cap is too low, and the players are piss-poor role models. College basketball may not be as pure as some might like but it’s clearly the superior alternative.

What I will do is offer some reasons for the current reality (as observed by Bill Simmons):

1.) Marketing players over teams: This was discussed on by Paul Shirley (author of Can I Keep My Jersey?). When you market players over teams, you’re neglecting 99% of your product, and putting all of your eggs in one basket. Look what happened to the Wizards when Gilbert Arenas went down… can you imagine if that happened to LeBron? Or Steve Nash? And as the Spurs have proven, great teams ALWAYS beat great players… but when you’re not hyping great teams, then you get stuck with “boring” Finals (aka Spurs, Pistons) when the great players get shut down. There was only one Michael Jordan and he happened to play in an era when the NBA just didn’t have any great teams.

2.) Fantasy basketball: Now, I know that fantasy permeates every sport, and it certainly has been a boon to football. But football is still inherently a team sport. The Redskins (and lately, the Yankees for baseball) have proven that chemistry, leadership, preparation and all of those other intangibles are incredibly important and can’t be evaluated on paper. Everything in basketball can be played out on paper: Tim Duncan + Tony Parker + Manu Ginobli = an extremely good team. In fact Tim Duncan + virtually anyone = an extremely good team. Which leads me to my next point:

3.) Valuing potential over skill: When you start getting involved in drafting 18 year old kids out of high-school for their “upside,” you’re playing to a dangerous trend that values the future over the present. The danger here is that when you’re constantly looking forward, you tend to get far-sighted. This is what happened to the Lakers, and why Kobe is demanding a trade. They had a championship caliber-team, and could’ve locked up 2 to 3 more rings depending on Shaq’s conditioning. But Jerry Buss decided it was too much of a risk to lock up a past-his-prime Shaq, and tried (and failed) to get equal value via trade. Well, we all know Dwayne Wade (a poor-man’s Kobe) and Shaq go on to win a ring in Miami. So fuck you, Jerry Buss.

Honestly though, there are too many problems to list, and I’m losing steam. But at least the NBA cares.

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2 responses so far ↓

  • Rohit // June 15, 2007 at 11:23 pm | Reply

    I’ve never been much of a NBA fan, but I did join the Warriors bandwagon for the playoffs. Baron Davis is a rock star, and fun to watch.

    On the points you bring up, I think the real problem is that basketball, much more so than any other sport, lends itself to a single player being able to carry an entire team. In football, if you have a good QB, but a piss poor squad of receivers/backs, you’re fucked. But in the NBA, we just watched LeBron carry an otherwise abysmal team to the finals. I didn’t even watch Game 1.

  • Jon // June 17, 2007 at 4:58 am | Reply


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