To a lot of fans the NBA is becoming mundane. No longer do you have great rivalries in the league, and the majority of the 82 game schedule is filled with unimportant and meaningless games. Division races use to mean something, but now with the adopted of the rules a couple of years ago which makes playoff seeding based more on record than division, winning the division is practically meaningless now days. Yes, being able to raise a division championship banner may make fans of teams like Denver and Toronto happy, but for teams like Detroit and San Antonio they have become expected.
The winner of a division does not necessarily mean that team is the best team within that division. Take the Toronto Raptors for instance, they won the Atlantic last year but got mauled by the Nets, a division foe, in last years playoffs.
In Baseball and Football divisions mean everything. Besides their automatic playoff bid, winning the division in those sports gives the winning fans something to brag about. This is something the NBA is lacking, but it didnít always use to be that way.
Back in the early days of basketball the Sixers, Celtics and Knicks had some epic battles. All three teams were in the same division and would play each other multiple times during the season. Playing each other more often would increase the importance of every game in the schedule, because teams could catch up or slip a lot quicker. Having more important games would raise revenue for everyone in the league. All NBA fans want to see great games, and the greater likelihood of a great game the better the chances of fans turning in.
Iíve been thinking about what to do with these divisions in the NBA for a while now, and I think I have come up with a pretty solid plan which would make watching the NBA a lot more interesting.
First off, increase the number of games from 82 to 85. This may look like a strange suggestion, something right out of bizzaro land, since I was complaining about the abundance of unimportant games there are already, but stick with me the 85 games idea is important.
Secondly, have each team face their division foes 10 times a year instead of 4. This would make the division a lot more important as teams would play 40 divisional games instead of the 20 they currently play. This would foster some great rivalries and like Iíve stated many times make every game more important.
Now, with 40 of the 85 games spoken for we have to decide what to do with the remaining 45 games. My idea is to break them into 3 separate chunks of 20 games(4 times a year), 10 games (2 times a year), and 15 (once a year). Teams would than play a non-divisional conference opponent either 4 or 2 times, having it alternate every season. So team A from the Southwest would play team X from the Pacific 4 times one year, the following season they would face each other only twice, and than 4 times the next year and so on. Finally, each team would play a non-conference opponent only once a year instead of the twice a year we currently have. Home games would alternate between the teams every two years.
I like the idea of having 41 game each season, and I would keep that in my plan. Now if youíre even remotely good at math you can see that this would be equaled to only 82, exactly what we have now. The additional three games would be played in neutral arenasí. This would help the NBA expand its markets because there would be 90 games played in various spots each season. It could also open the way for the NBA to get regular season games in Europe and Asia.
With divisional games now meaning so much in my plan, I have to equate the league because there would always be unfairness between large markets and small markets. A team like Memphis is never going to be competitive if they have to face Dallas and San Antonio 20 times each year, thatís because those teams can draw on larger revenues to attract free agents. The NFL and MLB have done a nice job of addressing this issue by basing their conferences, or leagues, on a National and American format. That is putting the larger markets in the National and the smaller markets in the American. This of corse would also rid us of the disparity between the Eastern and the Western conferences we have now.
Yes there could be a potential problem with larger vs smaller markets, but the other leagues have gotten it to work and the NBA could as well. The NBAís salary cap would do a great job of preventing this from happing, and since the smaller markets tends to be more fiscally responsible they donít have to worry about much as theyíve always been able to compete because of wise choices.
My idea likely wonít be adopted any time soon, but it is something to think about next time youíre wondering why the game youíre watching is boring.