I’m old enough to remember when the NBA was Fan-tastic. Notice the clever emphasis on the fans. Unfortunately, load management has made the NBA regular season crap-tastic.
Video this week emerged of a kid at a Miami Heat game holding a sign saying he traveled to watch Jimmy Butler play. Problem is, Butler didn’t play. The Heat and Butler did the young man right, but what about everyone else at the game who was there to see Jimmy Butler play?
Coupled with multiple examples from the past few seasons the NBA has a problem. Kids are constantly shown to be upset because they went to a game and a player they paid to see didn’t play.
Not A Good Look For The NBA
The NBA is continuously in the headlines for all the wrong reasons, and I’m not even talking about outrageous fashion or dealings with China. The product on the floor is concerning.
When the champion Warriors made their one appearance in Cleveland this year, the story was about the Golden State players who didn’t suit up. Unfortunately, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins (he was actually injured) didn’t suit up.
The shocking development was that the Warriors won the game – but still hurt the sport.
Sadly, the fans who wanted to jeer a roster that Cleveland played in the Finals four consecutive years from 2015-18 didn’t have the chance. At one time this was marketed as the biggest rivalry in the NBA. Now the players don’t even suit up? As a result, fans tune out the league.
Fix the product. Put the fan first. I’m a diehard fan and I’ve been turned off by the NBA regular season.
Actually, I might be the biggest fan of the NBA you know. If you’ve read this far into this article, I’m guessing you are an NBA fan as well. I’ve seen every franchise live and get League Pass every year. I play more fantasy basketball than fantasy football and look at NBA gambling lines daily. I go to games in person. In fact, my wife and I even go to Vegas for Summer League each year.
I’m invested in this sport as a fan and even I can’t take it anymore and completely understand why fans are turning away.
NBA is hurting itself
Anyway, I’m an authority on this topic and the problem with the product needs to be addressed. Players sitting out because of load management is a detriment to:
Fantasy basketball: People aren’t as excited to invest their time in fantasy sports if their players don’t sit out.
Gambling: When people lose bets because players sit out, people stop betting and when people stop betting they stop caring.
Live events: It’s hard to justify spending money for the NBA experience if players don’t play. If you don’t care, why should I?
Ratings: Who wants to invest their time watching backups?
Simple changes to start fixing the NBA
The NBA should stop kicking around the idea of a midseason tournament and should focus on fixing the product. And the solutions are easy.
- First, eliminate all back-to-back games. On Thursday, the Denver Nuggets played in Milwaukee after playing Wednesday at New Orleans. Predictably, many of Denver’s players sat out. In a game that featured the last two back-to-back MVPs, the league has one of the teams playing on back-to-back days? Why? Self-inflicted scheduling blunder.
- Second, Reduce the season to 72 games. Owners won’t want to give up 5 home games each and give up money, but it needs to be done.
- Equally important, get rid of the play-in tournament for playoff teams. When 10 teams have a chance at the playoffs instead of eight, it devalues winning in the regular season.
It’s really that simple as a starting point and the league must step in.
NBA coaches aren’t worried about the regular season because their job is to win in the playoffs.
NBA players aren’t worried about the regular season because that check cashes regardless.
The league must take action to become Fantastic again, an easy start is putting the fan first.