Thursday, March 30, 2006

The NBA isn't legitimate basketball

With the NCAA Tournament coming to a close this weekend, it's time to be a bit nostalgic. If you have read Macken's Lounge since its inaugural posts, you'll know that I call for a confusing, unorthodox, and inefficient way of expanding the NIT to become a big losers bracket. Basically, I would much rather watch horrible college basketball than good NBA teams. This is why the NBA is not legitimate basketball.

Defense

There are few NBA defensive "stoppers." The highest acclaimed is Bruce Bowen of the San Antonio Spurs. One of the knocks on Adam Morrison right now is that he doesn't guard anyone, and that this means he's slipping on draft boards. This should only INCREASE his attractiveness to NBA teams, because he won't waste energy playing defense and won't pick up cheap fouls. This guy should be the #1 overall pick because of his defensive laziness. The only "real" defense is when guys like Erick Dampier and Stromile Swift occasionally come from nowhere and block weak layups into the 6th row. Either that, or that's all the D I see on SportsCenter... Evidently when you hit the $1 million salary mark it's okay if you forget how to play help and weak side defense.

Offense

If I wanted to see a bunch of guys stand around in a halfcourt set and post-up each other, I'd pay $5 to go to my local YMCA before I'd pay $25 for a ticket to an NBA game. Even with the 24 second shot clock, the pace is horrible. Everyone is so intrigued by the run and gun teams like the Phoenix Suns and to some extent the Dallas Mavericks. Well, if you've ever seen an NBA game from the 70s or 80s on ESPN Classic, the Suns aren't anything compared to that. We're talking scores like 134-128 with no overtimes. If you want to see playground style alley-oops and the daily demise of the bounce pass, the NBA is FANTASTIC.

Oh, and there is a clause in every player's contract that specifically states that they must forget how to finish a layup within 5 feet of the hoop, must not take a shot anywhere between the 10-19 foot range, and throw up flailing jump hooks and floaters while arguing to the ref that they got fouled, as the opposing team is capitalizing on a 3 on 2. However, this player is safe because NBA players also are contractually obligated to forget how to run a 3 on 2. If you've ever seen a church rec league, or old men play at a Y or a college, the basics of a 3 on 2 stay with you for life... unless you're in the NBA.

Lack of Fan Participation

If you have to play pop music during the game to keep people's attention. You have a problem. In the college game, you don't have to the defense chant initiated by fake organ music, there are passionate, caring fans that want to see their team win. It might be cute to see a 10-year-old in an oversized Shaq jersey dancing to the 3rd Black Eyed Peas song of the quarter, but I'll pass.

The Talent

The media, we as fans, and everyone should just STOP telling college freshmen that they're good at what they do. People at North Carolina should be whispering in Tyler Hansbrough's ear that he is a horrible ball player and should continue to do so until he is forced to leave by becoming a graduating senior. If your family is poor, and you absolutely need the huge guaranteed sums of money, fine, go pro. But perhaps when your contract runs out, and you're playing in half-filled D3 college gyms in the Developmental League, you'll remember how Dick Vitale called you a primetime player. At least your mom will have a house. (Seriously, though... at least your mom will have a house. She deserves it. No joke there)

The NBA has no role players. Let's get that out of the way. The "role" players that they do have are 1st and 2nd round picks from the last 10 years that haven't quite panned out to their potential. I really don't understand how you can make it to the NBA as a ridiculously good all-around player, and then be relegated to 15 minutes a night so that you can make your living off of a few 3 point shot attempts or giving your starting big man a rest on the bench. I'm 6'5", 185 lbs., but if any NBA teams are interested in having a fundamentally sound token white bench player double down on the opposition's center for 5 minutes a game, I'll take the 10 day contract.

Lack of Competition

When every NBA insider readily admits that the championship will probably go to one of 3 teams, you know something is wrong. The Detroit Pistons, Spurs, and Mavericks have the 3 best records in the league. The Miami Heat are on a rampage, currently. But really everyone says the NBA Finals will come down to the Pistons and Spurs, and you know what, it probably will. They are definitely the best teams, and when the NBA revised the playoff systems to all 7 game series matchups, the element of surprise is gone. Look at the MLB or the NFL... the Steelers won the Super Bowl as a 6 seed. The Marlins and Red Sox have won the World Series as a Wild Card. George Mason made the Final Four as an 11 seed. But if you think that the #8 seed in the West, say the Lakers, has any chance of beating the Spurs or Mavericks 4 out of 7 games, you're dilusional.

I will now go watch my Michael Jordan game tapes and highlight videos in peace, remembering the not-so-bad days of the NBA while whimpering softly into my comforter.

7 Comments:

Blogger Oseirus the Great said...

I agree with a lot of what you are saying but I do disagree on the playoff format. If you change the format to one and done, imagine the chaos that would ensue. I don't want a crappy team like the Lakers this year, for example sneaking into the finals because of a flukey win in the first round, then somehow mainting that momentum to reach the finals. A best of 7 really does force the best out of both teams. Imagine a one and done sceneario like that of 2001 when the 76ers beat the Lakers in game one (barely if I might add) and then got trounced for the following four games. Now theatrically, in your system, 76ers would be champs which would make no sense, because that team was in no way comparable to the Lakers. Now you use baseball and football as your example, with the wildcard winners. The NBA doesnt have a wildcard format because it is top heavy, whereass the NFL and MLB have wild card teams which if they were in another division they would have been winners, i.e., if the Astros had been in the NL west last year, they would have been hands down winners and would have a higher standing however that is not the case, so I posit that to compare the two really is inadequate. To compare the NCAA tourney to the NBA finals is even worse because in a best of series, there is no way George Mason beats UNC, Michigan State or UConn for that matter. Other than that, I competely agree with you on the topic and I too wish that the good old days (i.e., my childhood days) of basketball would return where we have solid players on both D and on offense.

8:40 AM  
Blogger Macken's Lounge said...

I wasn't calling for a one and done format, maybe I should have made that clear. The NBA used the best of 5 method for their first round matchups and then changed it to the best of 7 format a few years ago. But the NBA also allows the most playoff teams from any league, at 16, than compared to baseball and football 8 and 12 respectively.

I completely agree with what you're saying with the one and done style, I just meant that they changed the best of 5 to a best of 7 and that eliminates upsets all across the board.

4:45 PM  
Blogger D. Derek said...

Good stuff. I slightly disagree on the defensive angle. I think there's actually some pretty good defense played if you look hard enough. The problem is, it's all individual defense rather than team defense, and it's focused on either getting a steal or a block, not on shutting a player down. You don't see many teams who take pride in completely taking their opponent out of their offense and forcing shot clock violations, rushed shots, and forced passes like you see good defensive college teams do.
Thank goodness for Mike D'antoni. I'm so sick of coaches who think they have to call a set play on every possession. These are supposed to be the best athletes in the world. They understand how to play. Turn them loose!
Funny thing about the new age limit on the draft: when a player like Greg Oden comes along, it may force kids ahead of him to declare for the draft a year earlier. Watch over the next month as a lot of guys who are marginal lottery picks but could use another year declare for this year's draft, knowing that Oden has the #1 pick locked up a year from now. All it takes is one agent to tell them, "If you have a couple good workouts, you could slide into the top spot this year. Next year, who knows?"
Finally, it's ironic that a game that has long had a structured salary system is so uncompetitive now. Some of that has to do with the disintegration of my Pacers, Amare's injury, etc, but this year the NBA isn't a whole lot different than MLB in the number of legitimate competitors, and that's without one team spending more than twice the next highest payroll.

8:03 PM  
Blogger duaneall said...

I agree with some of what you're saying, there's just a couple of things I think you're missing. The early entry of high school kids and first year college players is completely at fault for the lack of defense and overall intensity in the NBA. The NBA used to reward huge contracts to proven college talent from recognized programs. Now, they reward potential. When you dominate a talent pool as small as the high school arena, playing for a coach that is just happy you landed in his lap and lives to keep you satisfied, you haven't proven that you are deserving of a big contract. The NBA gives it to them, though. The fans then have to sit through their learning process, and pray that they catch on and start earning their money. Many of them don't, and the absence of all of this raw talent in the college ranks just adds to the competitiveness of college hoops. Hustle becomes more of a factor, because there aren't as many "lights out" players. So the college game has benefitted, and the NBA is more of a developmental league. Maybe college coaches should go over to the NBA and teach all these players that should be theirs. NBA coaches can go to the college ranks where players actually have discipline and structure.

3:45 PM  
Blogger duaneall said...

I agree with some of what you're saying, there's just a couple of things I think you're missing. The early entry of high school kids and first year college players is completely at fault for the lack of defense and overall intensity in the NBA. The NBA used to reward huge contracts to proven college talent from recognized programs. Now, they reward potential. When you dominate a talent pool as small as the high school arena, playing for a coach that is just happy you landed in his lap and lives to keep you satisfied, you haven't proven that you are deserving of a big contract. The NBA gives it to them, though. The fans then have to sit through their learning process, and pray that they catch on and start earning their money. Many of them don't, and the absence of all of this raw talent in the college ranks just adds to the competitiveness of college hoops. Hustle becomes more of a factor, because there aren't as many "lights out" players. So the college game has benefitted, and the NBA is more of a developmental league. Maybe college coaches should go over to the NBA and teach all these players that should be theirs. NBA coaches can go to the college ranks where players actually have discipline and structure.

3:47 PM  
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