Thursday, March 30, 2017

Where the NBA Stands

The NBA is a special league. No other American sports league has the type of space that the NBA has to work with. The NBA has the popularity of generations and doesn't have to deal with the short attention span issues that baseball has to deal with and doesn't have the violent streak that scares off the fragile from the NFL. The new commissioner has made a link between previous stars and modern stars and actually has allowed them to be themselves on TV. The "Player's Only" programming on TNT Monday nights is genius it's like the studio show with Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, and Kenny Smith, but on steroids. All roles from the pregame studio show, to the sideline reporting, to the halftime studio show is done by former players. No studio gasbags leading the conversation or trying to change the subject or trying to control the players when they go off on a rant. All other sports shows incorporate former players, but not like this.

The NBA has labor peace, popularity, and most importantly a HUGE TV deal that gets everyone paid. But the league isn't without some minor issues. Teams resting stars during nationally televised games is a problem but it isn't anything that should sink the ship. Silver can write however many sternly worded emails to the owners, but when it comes to winning an NBA championship coaches are going to rest their stars whenever they need to. Most NBA games, even when sloppy, can excite a crowd with fast pace action even if it leads to nothing. That's the kind of instant entertainment this generation craves. No need to wait for a hitter to put a ball in play or one guy crushing another guy in the middle of an open football field. When it comes to basketball, parents won't complain about their kid playing a violent sport and risk long term health issues and they can't complain about the price of baseball equipment. Basketball is the safest sport of all. It's about time the Association started playing their cards right.