Friday, June 15, 2007

Final Finals Thoughts: It’s Time for Some Changes…NOW!

As the NBA Finals end rather unceremoniously, with a borderline disgusting Spurs 4-0 sweep of the Cavs, it seems that everyone is spending the majority of their time beating up the current format of the NBA Finals; specifically, the ridiculous disparity in power between the Eastern and Western Conferences.
Unfortunately, balancing the power of each of the conferences is nearly impossible right now.

Especially since the top two picks in this year’s draft, likely to be future franchise cornerstones Oden & Durant, will bo
th be transplanted into the Pacific Northwest (at least for the time being).

Ironically, following the last game of the 2006-07 season, I’m not even summarizing the impressive sweep the Spurs just completed against the Cavs. Far from it, in fact. Just as the Spurs seem to want it; here I am analyzing what went wrong with the playoffs (again).
In fact, ambiguity may be the best term for symbolizing what the Spurs have done over the past nine seasons (which includes a total of four NBA titles). While I won’t spend much time on the topic, it has to be said – at least once in this post – that the Spurs have in fact molded themselves into a modern-day dynasty. Comparisons to teams like the Patriots, of the NFL, are both realistic and accurate.

While I’ll always be bitter about the Horry hip-check, I won’t be a Spurs hater. Not today at least.

So, as I veer off onto another route with tonight’s post, perhaps one being traveled just as much in recent days throughout the media, the question I can’t escape continues to linger right in front of me: where should we, and we meaning as in the office of the NBA commissioner (you know, that Stern-dude), begin to attempt to tinker with the mess that seems to be the NBA, specifically its playoff system, as of late?

Should we, we now describing the legion of loyal fans, just blame David Stern? Or should we instead blame the networks (ESPN & TNT) for having a dreary stranglehold on the schedule (remember, the Playoffs have to take nearly five months)? Should we consider the recently popular notion of re-seeding? Can we just go 1-16, in order, and worry about things like travel plans and division champions (i.e. hosting games) later?

Is there a possibility to mold the NBA Playoffs into a sort of May to June-Madness?

In all likelihood, none of these questions will be seriously addressed by the Commissioner. Not while profits are high and he continues to fret more about the league’s image, via marketing more than any other facet, 24/7.

While Stern would never directly listen to me, I’d still like to join the ever-growing rallying cry of everyone from experts to novice fans currently pleading with him to DO SOMETHING!

Can I also mention, even if it’s a completely off-the-wall note, that NBC’s coverage back in the day only helped things. Just allow yourself, if you remember of course, to reflect back to the glory days of NBA television coverage. Back to Bob Costas or Marv Albert giving a stirring introduction in the opening moments of the telecast. Whether they were in New York City, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, San Antonio, or Salt Lake City…you felt right next to them.

They were the voices, or perhaps even the catalysts, behind those
unforgettable moments during NBC’s coverage (spanning from 1990 to 2002): who can forget Jordan torturing everyone imaginable (with Ahmad “Little Mike” Rashad dry-humping him throughout the telecasts), the great five-year Suns/Sonics rivalry (from Barkley vs. Kemp to the shot from Rex Chapman), watching Shaq tear down rims and grow before our eyes from Orlando to Los Angeles, or the countless brawl-scenes from the Heat and Knicks (with instant laughter when you remember Zo and LJ flailing their arms at each other as Van Gundy bites at Mourning’s ankles).

Then, perhaps most recognizable, was the unforgettable music “Roundball Rock” (thanks John Tesh) that electrified you before another stacked double or even triple-header began.

Next was the in-studio team. Hannah Storm just plain rocked it. Peter Vecsey always had “insider information”, from his sources, which nobody ever believed. Steve "Snapper" Jones and Bill Walton were ready to choke each other out at any moment. Jim Gray was on the sidelines acting as arrogant as possible. Isiah and Magic were train wrecks, wherever they were. Matt Goukas and Dan Issel were always unexpectedly great #2 analysts. Even when Costas soaked everything out of the moment,
This may be the last time Michael Jordan sweats on the sidelines of an NBA court while taking a break during his team’s final timeout,”…you ate up every second of it.

Ahhhh, fond memories from the NBA on NBC.

Now we get nauseating amounts of ESPN/ABC-fueled coverage of “The Association”. Where guys like Stephen A. Smith (get over yourself), Tim Legler (read more), Tom Tolbert (admittedly, he was a huge mistake started by NBC), and even Stuart Scott (tool tool tool) get WAY too much camera exposure.

TNT might have a fun studio team, if Charles Barkley wasn’t hoarse twenty minutes into every show. Not to mention Dick Stockton, somehow still breathing, can’t pronounce a single name that isn’t Smith/Jones/Williams/Jackson correctly.

While you could rant about the television aspect as much as you want; perhaps PTI’s Michael Wilbon said it best, “Why on Earth is Phoenix playing San Antonio, with their records, in the second round of the Western Conference Playoffs?

I guess everyone wants Suns & Spurs in the Finals. And they’re going to whine and moan until they figure out a way they could get it. Assuming both teams could’ve gotten there. However, I still wonder how either team would’ve matched up with the Mavericks. Were the Warriors their only kryptonite in these playoffs for Dirk and Dallas?

Other questions still linger...

-Would the playoffs have looked more appetizing, and shown up more on the ratings radar, with a 1-16 pairing?
-Would we have had
Golden State unforgettable upset of Dallas?
-Would J-Kidd have had as many triple-doubles? Or more possibly?
-Would
Washington still have been as helpless?
-Would Deron Williams have risen to prominence?
-Would Carmelo and AI have potentially built real momentum following a potential first-round victory?
-Would LeBron have grown before our eyes in the Eastern Conference Finals?
-Would we know who Boobie” Gibson was?
-Would Tony Parker have become a Finals MVP? {As if Eva wasn’t enough already.]

Or would the new memories be even better???

It’s interesting to ponder, if nothing else.

Just like these issues…

-NBA All-Star Game switches to International versus the USA? [Why not try it, once?]
-Changing the lottery system completely. [Punish teams who tank it.]
-Re-seed the playoffs. [At least explore ideas out loud.]
-Punish instigators more. [A new Robert Horry Rule sounds great.]
-Give out the MVP award after the post-season. [Tim Duncan and LeBron James just might agree with that.]
-Stop starting Finals games at
9:15 pm. [Forget the West Coast; you’re losing the biggest East Coast markets right off the bat with that start time.]
-Never allow the Pussycat Dolls to do a musical promo for the Playoffs. [Just let them dance to someone else’s music.]
-Make a rule, i.e. foul call, against flopping. Make it a foul. It’ll cut it in half. [PLEASE. Call if the F-Duke Rule.]
-Dump this stupid
2-3-2 format immediately. [No explanation needed honestly.]
-Make officials more accountable. [Sorry if it’s tough work, but the quality is slipping big time. Imagine if D-Wade didn’t get fourteen calls in Games 3 through 6 last Finals. Imagine!]
-Give more press for USA Basketball rosters and encourage more debates on TV about them. [It’s much more interesting than you think. Get a guy like Arenas to talk about it more and you’ll see how some players truly feel about it.]

I suppose most of this is all hot-air, but it’s still a hot-button issue…especially at the end of the season.

Fortunately, the NBA Draft is barely two weeks away. While that could end up disappointing, as last years clearly did, mainly due to a complete lack of interesting trades…at least it’s something to look forward to before a long off-season really begins.

After this NBA Finals, even for the purists who can survive by eating up the accomplishments and dominance witnessed during this post-season run by the Spurs…everyone deserves something a little more infotaining.

Until next time…

Note: Credits for photos found in comments section.

2 comments:

Chris Clement said...

All video credits are to YouTube.

Picture Credits:
Spurs - CNNSI.com
NBA on NBC - Wikipedia.org
Peter Vecsey - Deadspin.com
Horry & Nash - MSN.com

Paymon said...

John Tesh!!!!