NBA Commish for One Day

One day when I grow up, one of my goals involving running a major sports league. Ideally, it would be the NBA; but for now, I’ll settle for being a part of CAC because that’s three letters and there’s basketball involved. The fact that I do not have a law degree or the fact that I’m not an empty suit that can make callous decisions probably goes against me. It’s amazing to think here in 2015, there are many things that quite a few of us would change as us humans keep evolving. Most of the evolution has been good for many sports here in this country, but backwards steps come as part of the package. Like any good puzzle, things can be rearranged and fixed in the name of efficiency and what’s best for business.

So I decided to be El Jefe for the NBA to try to find the perfect balance of serving these three groups’ interests:

  • 1. The owners/shareholders (they take care of team employees)
  • 2. The athletes involved
  • 3. The fans

The biggest key is to find the things that need immediate fixing (i.e the game changing issues that will make these sports better for all of the above groups). So I found the three things I would clean up right now to improve the overall quality of the game. Without further adieu, here is what I would do with one day as the commissioner of the NBA.

1.      Scrap the 2-3-2 format of the NBA Finals. It’s too easy. Go back to a 2-2-1-1-1 format and the NBA actually could have its version of the Super Bowl every other year. Adam Silver, this would be the way to endear yourself to many fans. The 2-3-2 format simply sucks. There were 12 Game Sevens in 33 years of the 2-2-1-1-1 format; since the change to 2-3-2, there has only been five Game Sevens since 1985 (28 years!) Not good. A winner-take-all game is the ultimate marketing opportunity; it has to be seized to bring casual fans in. If I was the new commish and I pulled this off, I’m pretty sure people would tell me how awesome I was and I’d be the mayor of some cool place for a day. Please, Adam Silver, do this when David Stern leaves!!!!

2.      Make the last 2:00 of each half faster with respect to timeouts. The whole business with timeouts is absurd. You can watch a re-run of Seinfeld in the time the last 2:30 of an NBA game. It’s comically slow and the problem that I have it is that it kills any flow going at the end of the game. In fact, the game is overcoached and micromanaged because of the money flowing, which makes it less fun. No offense, but I want my money players making quick decisions and playing real basketball (up/down and fast). The one question I would ask as devil’s advocate is: why get penalized for saving your timeouts? You shouldn’t be. Timeouts should be used for one main reason: stopping the clock. Coaches can strategize, but timeouts are much more valuable if you are trailing and you need to get the ball back to score. Time is your enemy. If it were me, I would propose this: Each team can save all of their timeouts, but only two full timeouts can be called by each team in the final 2:00. Any other full timeouts are treated as: 20 timeouts. Coaches should have the option to treat full timeouts like :20 timeouts or they can simply stop the clock with the option to move to the next play immediately. This would speed the game up tremendously and for all the right reasons. Simplicity is a wonderful thing and we would get something closer to pure basketball without all these damn timeouts killing the flow. I would watch NBA games more if I could turn a painful 20-minute episode into 8-12 minutes of exciting drama.

 3.      Push back the regular season start time 2-3 weeks. Speed up the NBA playoffs. Keep the same amount of games, but make the first round faster to give us a slightly longer offseason. Create an NBA Opening Playoff Weekend. The NBA playoffs should not take 2 ½ months. Just no. The biggest thing I would do is consult with my physicians and my medical experts about protecting the health of my players. If it were me, a longer offseason would probably be the biggest thing I would advocate. If you play in the Finals, your offseason is so small compared to the rest of the year. Because you’re playing from late October into late June. That is a damn long time to be playing NBA basketball if you’re a starter for almost eight months.

Obviously, if I could, I would reduce the regular season to 70-72 games and I would shell the first round down to a best-of-five series; but that will not happen unless radical change takes place. Too much money for owners to give up; so it’s not really feasible. The only solution is getting rid of the rule that demands only 1-2 games on TV every night during the 1st round. Flow is killed completely. Bad basketball gets played. And for what? A 2.5 for TNT on Thursday night so we can watch Portland play San Antonio this spring? Simply not worth it. Multiple games should be shown. Imagine an NBA Opening Playoff Weekend similar to March Madness!

      What if all the Game 1s were played on Thursday and Friday? And what if all the Game 2s were played on Saturday and Sunday of a weekend in mid-April? I would so be down for that. Remember the NFL Draft is now a weeknight thing. You could so do this the weekend before the NFL Draft starts if you want to begin a great tradition. This sounds like the best weekend ever. Getting bombarded with good basketball would be something to bring people together and get them talking. When you’re marketing, you want to create a different kind of buzz and this would be it. An Opening Playoff Weekend would be a nice opener for the rest of the playoffs, plus it would set up TV well for the rest of the derby. With some sweeps happening, the next weekend would be full of good Game 5s (pivotal games that aren’t do-or-die) while the blowouts get masked but those teams get marketing for the next round. This is a win-win.

The scary thing is that the more I talk myself into NBA Opening Playoff Weekend, I keep thinking that we have to do this next year! This would be so much fun. And I think a lot of you people from CAC would be at Tommy Doyle’s or some random bar or someone’s house just crushing it in the name of quality basketball.

OK, those are the three things I would do today if I could fix the NBA. Help me out and add some comments if you can think of some ideas that can help improve the NBA. There is a lot of good things going on with pro basketball, but it can always be better. Let’s do it.

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