Diary of a Concerned NBA Fan

The Golden State Warriors are good. They are EXTREMELY good. They can shoot, they can play D, they play team basketball. With the addition of Kevin Durant, they became unbeatable. Without a doubt the most talented squad ever assembled. With the addition of Demarcus Cousins, they became a bit ridiculous. They have the starting 5 of an All Star team after already winning 3 championships in 4 years. This begs me to ask the question: what the hell is the point in watching a sport where everyone knows who the champ is going to be?

In my eyes, there’s not much reason to follow the sport. I think it is very safe to say that the Warriors will be your 2019 NBA champs. This is a team that probably won’t lose 2 consecutive games at full health. This is frustrating to me as a basketball fan who misses the years when we didn’t know who would win the championship a year before it happened.

This article isn’t meant to shred the Warriors. They developed their team perfectly and Steve Kerr has done an amazing job as coach. They played by the rules and developed the greatest team ever. But when the league is becoming this non competitive, the league should really look into changing some rules. I am a Sixers fan, so I am following a top team in the NBA and it still feels like there’s no point in watching. There is no way in heaven, hell, or purgatory that we are winning the finals. I can’t even imagine being a fan of a team that actually isn’t good in a league like this. There is absolutely zero point in watching. I can’t think of any other sport where teams are this unbalanced.

Part of it has to do with the fact that every good player in the NBA is in the West, with a few exceptions. A poor playoff seed in the west would probably be the best team in the east. Free agents go to the west because its just a nicer place to live if you’re rich. The conferences haven’t been competitive in years, leading to the elimination of the East vs West All Star Game style.

This article is of course all opinionated. There may be people out there who have no problem with the lack of competitiveness of the league today. Dynasties sell, right?

To that I would say yes, dynasties sell. The Patriots sell, the Yankees sell. But neither the Patriots nor the Yankees have ever dominated their respective sports like this in the modern era. The Patriots almost never have a very stacked lineup. They have a couple all time great players, but what really made them great was their coaching and the iq of Tom Brady. Also, the Patriots have lost Super bowls. And in those Super Bowl losses, they helped create some of the best underdog stories ever (Twice with Eli Manning, then with Nick Foles.) Yes, the Warriors did lose a finals, but that was before they added their fourth (then fifth) all star. The Yankees, on the other hand, I don’t think you could even compare to Golden State. They won their last World Series in ‘09 (against my Phillies, sadly.) The MLB has been very competitive for the past few years, with new World Series matchups and champions almost every year. The NBA Finals has been Lebron James vs the West for the past decade. It is without a doubt the least competitive major sport.

What can be done to make the NBA more competitive? Basketball is a sport where one player can have a huge impact on a team, more so than any other sport. There’s only 5 guys on the floor at a time. So is there anything that can be done at all? I think so.

Now I’m no expert, but I have an idea. That idea is to implement a playoff system much like the MLB or the NFL: divide the conferences into divisions and have division and wildcard winners in each conference advance to the playoffs instead of the top 8 teams in each conference. This would spread talent out to more areas, not everyone would want to play on the west coast because they wouldn’t all be able to make the playoffs. This would also put a lot more pressure on the regular season. You can’t just slack off all year and get a low seed (I’m looking at you, Lebron). You have to actually beat the other teams in your division. This would make regular season play much more watchable. More teams would be able to compete because they don’t have to be the best in their conference, they only need to worry about the teams in their division.

Like I said, I am not an expert. I’m just a guy who loves basketball and wants it to be great. I want a league where every year there’s more and more cities who have the confidence to get behind their team and say “this is our year”, not just the same teams we see every single year. I’m writing this article because I want to know what others think. Do you like my idea? Do you have an idea of your own? Do you think the NBA will actually make any changes, or are they okay with the state of the league right now? I don’t know the answer to any of these questions. We are going to be dealing with this lopsided version of the NBA for at least the next 2 years, and until there is a change I will be trying to #MakeBasketballCompetitiveAgain.

– Pat Doyle

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