If you consider yourself a righteous sports fan and still follow the NBA, I pity you. Perhaps that sounds harsh, but if you still think the NBA is worthwhile entertainment, you are sadly mistaken. Basketball is a great sport, but the league is too far beyond the realm of credibility.
As of March 10th, 10 NBA teams had won less than 40 percent of their games. The Philadelphia 76ers were riding a 17-game losing streak, and still did not have the worst record in the league. What does that tell you?
The National Basketball Association is a place where the best teams waltz their way into the playoffs untested. The rest compete in an all-out tanking competition – who can lose the most games in an attempt to win the draft lottery? Perhaps it is more interesting at this point to speculate who will lose the most games than who will be the eventual NBA champion come June.
On March 6, the Los Angeles Lakers were pummeled by an astounding 48 points in a loss to their in-city rivals, the Clippers. The reuslting score of 142-94 is absurd, and such blowouts have become commonplace. No wonder now former NBA commissioner David Stern retired mid-season. Under his helm, the league lost any semblance of value.
Even the league’s most talented players are guilty of constant flopping, and the NBA style of basketball is a game dictated by ticky-tacky foul calls. Perhaps LeBron James and the Miami Heat will get their “not one, not two, not three” championship titles they hoped for. After all, a fair chunk of the competition is playing to lose at a time in which the league has its most dominant player since Michael Jordan.
Sure, basketball is a “professional sport” – but nothing about the NBA in recent years exhibits that. A professional sport that views it a viable promotion to allow players to wear nicknames on the back of their jerseys for select games is laughable. If James is allowed to wear “King James” on the back of his jersey a few times this season, why not just hand him the trophy?
The last games of the regular season will not be played until April 6. However, eight teams already have a mathematical zero percent chance of making the playoffs according to ESPN’s Hollinger NBA Playoff Odds system. Thirteen teams have between a 98 and 100 percent chance of making it. Nearly a month of season left to play, almost for nothing.
With March Madness about to take full flight, basketball enthusiasts should turn a blind eye to the NBA entirely if they haven’t already. The college game is more wholesome regardless of how disgraceful the NBA has been this year. It’s unfortunate that most of the best collegiate players will leave after this season to join the NBA, where a paycheck takes heavy precedent over the box score.
The NBA needs a serious overhaul, and perhaps the league should take notice of how the National Hockey League operates. In the NHL, where teams play to win, 25 of the league’s 30 teams still have a mathematical possibility of playoff contention as of March 10.
The five bottom-of-the-barrel teams out of NHL playoff contention were a combined 20-27-3 in their last 10 games. Out of 50 games, these league-worst teams took points in 46 percent of the games. Without playoff possibility left to play for, NHL teams still play hard and uphold the integrity of the game.
The eight out-of-contention NBA teams shirked their way to a collaborative 22-58 record in their past 10 games – just a 27.5 winning percentage. The NBA is a joke, albeit a rather insensible one.
If you have your heart set on basketball, tune into the college game from now on. By following the NBA, you are only promoting a compromised professional sport that has seriously lost its way.
If you are intent on remaining a diehard professional sports fan, follow the NHL. The month of March means a condensed post-Olympic schedule in which teams are playing 16 or 17 games each. Despite the demanding schedule that follows heartfelt efforts in Sochi, NHL hockey players trudge on, holding themselves to a high professional standard. The players play to win at all costs, something the NBA should take note of.