Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fixing the NBA

The NBA has an amazing amount of top talent in the league at or near their primes at this moment. Some regular season games feel like playoff games with their level of play and intensity. Sadly, this does not translate to TV viewers or butts in seats. The celebrated Celtics-Lakers finals in 2008 did not even match the ratings of the Kobe-Shaq years when LA would take on chump teams. The year before, Lebron James' first Finals did not yield big ratings. Nope, he's not MJ. Then again, MJ killed the league by making it so much about one person that the rest of the NBA suffered. Ticket sales are down, and teams are in trouble. The league faces huge changes if it wishes to remain in business. As a fan of the glory years, I have a few suggestions to help the league.

Fan Friendly Moves

Children under 9 are free. Yeah they'll lose some seats, but with most games starting at night, it's not like they'll lose a lot of revenue. In the end if kids can get in free, some parents might go just for themselves and drag junior along and with a free seat maybe buy some food and soda. For the TV problem, in the playoffs, two games of every match up have to be scheduled for the daytime-afternoon, including the NBA Finals. No Finals game tips off after 8:10 pm. You know why so many 20-somethings remember Magic's baby hook shot in 1987? Because the game was in the afternoon. I still rmember the moment Magic hit that shot, and I was 7. All star game becomes US vs. the World and is moved back to an afternoon time. This is more of a marketing gimmick. Who cares about rhe All Star game? No one. Make it US vs. the World and people might see if we can take on the World's best 12 players. The great thing is that now there are at least 12 great foreign guys in the NBA.

League Structure
The NBA contracts 4 teams to start: charlotte, atlanta, memphis and the clippers. Move New Orleans to Seattle and make them the Sonics v. 2.0. Suddenly every team gets to pick up 1 player. Yeah, 48 guys are available but only 26 get picked. this elminates the 5 worst guys off those teams and by the addition of those 26 guys, knocks off another guy from each team. Suddenly every team gets to pick up 1 player. Yeah, 48 guys are available but only 26 get picked. This elminates the 5 worst guys off eliminated teams and by the addition of those 26 guys, knocks off another guy from each team. Maybe some guys get signed as FAs to other teams. Raise the league minimum age to 20 for US and foreign players. No more draft picks that sit the bench for two-2 years not helping the team that drafted them and then they sign elsewhere and make an impact (see T-mac and Jermaine O'Neal). Teams would have solid 8 man rotations instead of playing Russian Roulette with their subs.

Salary - Revenue Sharing
Hard salary cap. League minimum budget as well. No more max contract BS. Change the salary structure to 3 and 4 year deals. Contracts are guaranteed only 60% or so. Yes this is a takeaway to lazy ass players that sign big deals and slack off. On the other hand, it's a boon for hardworking players who continuously improve. They can earn more and more as they improve. Role players and slack ass jerks will not kill teams cap figures and will give greater flexibility to teams one guy away.

Quality of play would be better since contracts are only guaranteed for 60% or if the last year can be nullified by the team, benches would be deeper, Seattle has a team back in their good arena with fans happy to have a team back, and you remove the awful fan bases of memphis, atlanta charlotte & the non-Laker LA fans. You could move this to 5 teams and throw in Sacramento or NJ (I'd prefer NJ be eliminated). People will watch more with daytime playoff games and night games that start at 8pm. People will come back with their kids if the kids come free.

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