Somewhat in a tizzy over the early exits of D-Wade, Shaq, Dirk, Kobe, T-Mac, and uh, the Suns being down 1-0 (!), the Washington Post’s Michael Wilbon (above) predicts widespread apathy (“the postseason is on the verge of being turned over to LeBron James, who has never been past the second round, and Tim Duncan, who quite intentionally has the star-quality of an extra in a zombie movie.”) as the NBA playoffs progress.
The question is whether losing big stars while keeping good but relatively starless teams (Pistons, Jazz, Bulls, Warriors) is a complete disaster for the NBA or whether there’s something good about having the opportunity to introduce new teams and story lines in the postseason. In other words, will people watch the NBA playoffs without its most recognized stars?
The NBA should re-seed the playoff matchups after every round. The NFL does it. MLB does it. The NHL does it. The NBA tinkered with the postseason format after last season (when Dallas and San Antonio met, absurdly, in the second round), but still failed to get it right. If the NBA re-seeded, as it should, right now the league would have Bulls vs. Cavs and Pistons vs. Nets in the Eastern Conference . . . Suns vs. Warriors and Spurs vs. Jazz in the Western Conference.
Suns vs. Warriors would probably produce a 300-point game and it would be must-see TV. This isn’t hindsight, it’s easy to anticipate. That’s why the other leagues already re-seed. You want to avoid, at all costs, a rigid structure forcing the two best remaining teams in a conference to go against each other before it’s time. So now, the NBA has its best teams playing each other a round too early (which it could have avoided) and without big stars (which it could not).
The early returns from the second round suggest that we’re looking at an NBA Finals of recent champions Detroit vs. San Antonio, a rematch of 2005, a purist’s dream and a mass interest yawn.
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty impressed at the job Colin Cowherd did ghostwriting the above column. But seriously, folks, after a 24 hour span in which no fewer than 3 ESPN chat shows made light of the WWL’s decision to televise the MLB entry draft, isn’t it amazing how the most shilltastic of networks employs so many guys who trash their broadcast partners?
If we were somehow graced with a Suns/Pistons final — hardly the craziest proposition — I suspect even the most casual of basketball fans would find something to chew on in such a clash of styles. If not the presence of such no names as Amare Stoudemire, Shawn Marion, Rasheed Wallace, etc.
Not for the first time or last time since Houston’s elimination, there’s a suggestion of sorts, that perhaps Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming didn’t have a sufficient supporting cast.