Can NBA Make its Product Better?
Better yet: If I were the players? I’d seize control of the bettering-the-game dialogue and become the lone voice in the wilderness talking about issues fans care about. Clearly, the average fan doesn’t want to hear about owners and players griping about money. But what if the players, as part of their September pro league in Las Vegas, convened a committee of All-Stars, mid-level players, Hall of Famers and other legends for a meeting of the minds on how to make the game better? It might result in some viable ideas, and would put the players in the position of discussing the game instead of their opposition to a hard cap and the elimination of guaranteed contracts.
Here are some concepts the executives, players or both could address instead of wasting valuable time arguing (and not arguing) over money:
• Anti-tanking rules: I’d start with the play-in tournament concept, which would incentivize teams with otherwise no hope of making the playoffs to make a move at the trade deadline and take a shot at it. Home playoff dates can be worth as much as $1 million, and the tournament itself — a three-day, single-elimination event featuring teams 8-15 in each conference — would generate millions out of thin air. I’d even take it a step further and financially reward teams based on how far up the standings they moved to capture the eighth seed. A surprising run by last season’s Cavaliers, who played much better over the final two months of the season, would be rewarded more than the eighth-place team holding serve.