My Love For Hockey Is Not Why I Dislike The NBA [OPINION]
The NBA, in my eyes, has become a farce. From players dictating which teams they play for, to officials being blatantly biased, to the lack of transparency regarding the draft "lottery," it has all the trappings of the WWE.
The first thing most people say to me when I tell them I don't care for the NBA is something along the lines of "You hate the NBA because you are a hockey fan," or "Why do all hockey fans hate the NBA."
It is true that I consider myself a big hockey fan. I love the pace of the sport, the integrity of (most of) the players, and the enthusiasm of the fans in the arena.
However, from 1993-2003 I would say that I was much, much more of a basketball fan than I was a hockey fan. After the North Stars left town I definitely became a huge Wolves fan, living and dying with the team from losing season to losing season.
The 90's and early 2000's were a golden era for the NBA, extending from the good times of the 1980's. Jordan, Malone, Olajuwon, Robinson, Barkley, Ewing, Miller and Shaquille O'Neal were great players that were spread across the league and made it exciting to follow all season long.
At some point, likely around the time that O'Neal signed with the Lakers after referring to himself as a "big fish in a dried up little pond" in Orlando, the league began to emphasize its players as being the attractions as opposed to the teams.In turn, players began to position themselves to land in "big markets" where they could "become a brand."
In a given year in the 1990's many teams competed for the title, including the Knicks, Blazers, Kings, Bulls, Rockets, Magic and Jazz. Sure, Jordan and the Bulls were always the favorites going in to the season, but there was a sense that someone could knock them off given the right circumstances.
Now there are literally four teams that have even a small chance to win the title: Miami, San Antonio, Oklahoma City and Indiana. The rest of the teams might as well take their balls and go home.
It is almost inevitable that a superstar player on a 'small-market' team will end up playing in a big market within five years of being drafted, even though there is a salary cap and despite the fact that the team that originally drafted a player can typically offer them the most money on their second contract after being drafted.
LeBron James "took his talent to South Beach," Deron Williams butted heads with HALL OF FAME coach Jerry Sloan and made his way to Brooklyn, Chris Paul left the Hornets for the Clippers, and Kevin Love looks to be on his way out of Minnesota because he is not content playing in Minneapolis. There is no sense of pride among the players in the league, just a desire to get to an NBA title the easiest way possible. (The obvious exception to the rule--to this point--is Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City).
In fact, in the last THIRTY YEARS only
six (EDIT: eight) teams have won the NBA title: Miami, the Lakers, Boston, Detroit, San Antonio, Chicago, Houston and Dallas. If you take away the Mavericks lone title three seasons ago over Miami the number shrinks to seven teams in the last 30 seasons.
In the NHL, 15 teams have won the title in that span, with one season wiped out due to a lockout. 18 MLB teams have won the World Series since 1984, and 16 different NFL teams have won a Super Bowl.
The NBA's draft lottery system is one of the main reasons for this disparity. The ping-pong ball selection process is done behind closed doors, which in my opinion opens the league up for conspiracy theorists to cry foul and allege that the entire process is 'rigged.'
Why not show the actual selection of the balls out of the hopper? In an era where fans will tune in to four days of NFL draft coverage and with the NBA owning their own television network there really is no excuse not to air the process live. This is especially true when the league knows that this is a concern among fans.
The officiating has also come in to question recently, especially in light of the allegations against former referee Tim Donaghy, who was investigated for fixing games and affecting the point spread of games he allegedly gambled on.
It is disturbing that someone could affect games in that way over a number of years and not be noticed until a federal investigation is launched. The fact is, there is too much freedom in enforcing the rules in the NBA, leading to inconsistent officiating and questionable calls to the point that the league regularly issues formal apologies to teams following games in which calls were obviously blown.
Another issue I have with professional basketball is the glacially-paced final two minutes of a game. Between the seemingly endless timeouts, free throws and commercial breaks the ending of games could not possibly be more anti-climactic.
Hey, I have an idea: Lets take the best athletes on Earth and take away all that athleticism and turn the end of EVERY GAME into a free throw contest. Sounds fun!