The NBA playoffs, and the league in general could be improved to give the best teams in the league a shot at the playoffs. Not just the best teams in each conference. I don’t think many teams or fans care about winning their division, or even their respective conference if they don’t win the NBA Title. Winning a division or a conference over and over without bringing home a championship ring is almost embarrassing (sorry Buffalo Bills). The NBA will not change this however, because taking out divisions and conferences will cut into their “Division/Conference Champion” t-shirt and hat sales! But honestly, when is the last time you saw a Laker or Celtic fan wearing a Conference Champion t-shirt? Probably never! And why would they, given they have around 50% of all championships in the NBA’s history. The only teams and fans who might be wearing these, “I came in 2nd place and proud of it” shirts would be those that get to the 3rd or championship round of the playoffs but can’t seem to get the hardware (sorry Orlando Magic fans wearing 1995 or 2009 Eastern Conference Champs gear right now)!
My solution? Get rid of the Eastern and Western Conference and all divisions. Instead of ranking teams based on record and geographic location, rank them based on record alone. The 16 teams with the best record are in the playoffs, simple! This would solve a few problems:
1. Allow the teams with the best records to play for a championship.
2. Teams who might miss out on the playoffs because they are 9th, 10th, etc in their conference might now make the playoffs because they deserve it based on their record.
3. It would also make for some very intriguing potential first round matchups, possibly renew old rivalries and definately start a few new ones! Imagine the Lakers and Celtics finishing 8th and 9th overall and having to play in the first round of the playoffs!
I will update this part of the post at the end of each week. If the season ended today (Feb 11, 2012), the playoff picture using the above suggestion would look like this:
- Chicago v 16. Utah
- Oklahoma City v 15. Boston
- Miami v 14. Portland
- LA Clippers v 13. LA Lakers
- Philadelphia 12. Denver
- Atlanta v 11. Houston
- San Antonio v 10. Dallas
- Indiana v 9. Orlando