Dear David Stern: Please, Please, Please Shorten The NBA Playoffs!
At least, that’s what you’d believe if you spent this week watching Sportscenter or reading Yahoo! Sports or standing anywhere in the vicinity of an NBA fan. Because LeBron James has basically gotten thrown to the wolves this week when it comes to NBA analysis. And there’s a very simple reason for that: The NBA Playoffs have gotten to the point that they’re too long. Way. Too. Long.
Hear me out. It’s not all the NBA’s fault here. To his discredit, LeBron James sucked in Game 5 of the Cavs/Celtics series. As a result, he deserved to get called out on it. But the problem LBJ ran into is that, after the Cavs/Celts game on Tuesday night, there was nothing else for NBA fans to talk about. The Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns both advanced to the Western Semifinals earlier this week and won’t play again until they take the court on Monday. The Orlando Magic also advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals at the top of the week and won’t play another game until next week. As a result? This week was all about bashing King James—all day, all the time.
The NBA makes a ton of money by spacing their playoff games out to maximize their dollars. And there’s nothing wrong with that when the playoff matchups are competitive and the series last for six or seven games. It actually works out for them. But in a situation like this, where the Lakers, Suns and Magic all wrapped up their respective series by sweeping the competition, it puts the NBA in a situation where they’re forced to play the waiting game. In that respect, it’s bad for business.
It’s also not fair to the players. In certain cases, they have to sit around and wait up to a week between games. In others, they have to move more quickly to end a series. And in the case of the Cavaliers and Celtics series, LeBron James has come under a ton of heat because, frankly, he was the only hot topic in the NBA this week by default.
NBA Commissioner David Stern needs to figure out a way to make better use of the league’s time. He needs to increase the pace of the first round. Have less days off for players between games during a series. Capitalize off the prime time slots on Sundays, but keep in mind that you need to get more games finished during the week. Whatever it takes.
The NBA Playoffs are, no doubt, intense. It’s some of the best basketball you’ll see played in any given year. Unfortunately, that means nothing when you consider you’ve seen very little basketball actually being played this week. Instead, you’ve heard a bunch of people sitting around and dragging Lebron’s name through the mud for playing a bad game. And while he definitely deserved some of it, it’s hard to believe the same thing would have happened if Kobe Bryant or Dwight Howard was due to play the next day and taking it off all of our minds.
So Mr. Stern, shorten the playoffs—and shorten them now. It’s a move the NBA has to make. It can only make one of the greatest games on Earth even better. Until then, the rest of us will do our best to enjoy the rest of the NBA Playoffs: Where amazing sitting around and waiting for the next playoff series to begin happens.
Photo Courtesy of Lebron360.com