The NBA appears to have the antithesis of parity going on this year. Obviously, there are going to be winners and losers in every year; but this time, it would seem as if there are a half-dozen or so very good teams, a few more competitive teams and about 15 teams that are just plain bad. I guess you might argue that makes for parity of a sort – the parity of poor play. That is not a parity level any league should seek.
Moreover, the NBA is facing a potential TV ratings problem because of who the bad teams are and where they play.
Boston: The Celtics are 8-12 this morning. That projects to a season record of 32 – 50. Even fans in Boston are not going to be excited about that and fans around the country who are interested in the Celtics based on their history in the league are going to have diminished interest in a 32-win team.
Philly: Historically, this has been a basketball hotbed. In recent years, the Sixers have struggled to put fannies in the seats. At the moment, the Sixers’ record is 7 – 12 and just about everyone thinks they are over-achieving so far. Philly is a big TV market but interest could wane even more come April 2014.
New York: The Knicks play in the self-proclaimed “Mecca of Basketball” but after winning 54 games last year and aspiring to challenge the Miami Heat for Eastern conference supremacy this year, the Knicks just flat-out stink. If the Knicks miss the playoffs, here is another big TV market that might find other things to watch during playoff time. As of this morning, their record is 3-13; they will need a serious change in fortune to make the playoffs
Brooklyn: The Nets are marginally better than the Knicks this morning with a 5-13 record. Despite the highest payroll in NBA history, this team has played more like an expansion team than a collection of established stars.
Chicago: Another huge TV market could see its team on the sidelines come playoff time. The injury to Derek Rose’s other knee is a bad deal for 2013 and a bad omen going forward.
Los Angeles: The Lakers – not the Clippers – are the team with the huge following in Los Angeles. The Lakers are 9-9 this morning in the Western Conference where all but two of the “really good teams” reside. Do not count the Lakers out of the playoffs yet – but do not bet the mortgage money that they will make the playoffs either.
If all of these cities have their teams miss the playoffs and if the NBA Finals turn out to be Indianapolis versus Portland, the ratings could be horrendous…
Tomorrow night, the NBA National Game on TV will be the Knicks and the Nets. When they made up the schedule and both the Knicks and the Nets looked as if they would be contenders, this was a game that the schedule mavens put on a Thursday night in India ink. Now there is the reality of a National TV game between teams with a combined 8-26 record and just a few “internal issues”:
Knicks guard – and one of the few players there who actually guards someone on the other team -, Iman Shumpert has gotten himself into a shouting match with prima-donna supreme, Carmelo Anthony over Anthony’s defensive play. This will not end well.
Knicks big men, Metta World Peace and Kenyon Martin have reportedly had “heated exchanges” in practices.
Owner James Dolan says he expects the Knicks to win the NBA Championship this year. He did not reveal what substance(s) were in his bloodstream when he arrived at that insight.
The Nets hired a coach, Jason Kidd, who had never coached at any level before this year. To give him some advice and counsel, he hired Lawrence Frank to be his consigliore for 4 years and $6M. Frank has just been demoted to “doing daily reports” according to Kidd and will not sit on the bench or attend practices anymore. How do I get a gig like that for $6M over the next 4 years?
Nets’ guard, Paul Pierce, had this to say regarding the Nets’ braintrust:
“We’ve got to understand teams aren’t going to play the same way in the second half as they did the first half because teams make adjustments … and we’ve got to realize that and adjust to that.”
The Nets are 2-8 in their last 10 games going into tomorrow night’s struggle while the Knicks bring a 9-game losing streak to the party. Will you be tuning in?
Both the Knicks and the Nets trail the Toronto Raptors in the standings this morning. I mention the Raptors because last night they led the Golden State Warriors by 17 points at the half and wound up losing the game by 9 points; they were outscored in the second half 66-38. That is a bad showing by a bad team – yet they are ahead of the Knicks and the Nets today.
Last weekend – Rivalry Week in College Football – is something that the NFL would love to experience but never will. The emotion that fans pour into college rivalry games every year – despite the records of the teams – is not something that the NFL can generate in its fanbase. Sure, there is emotion when the Bears play the Packers or when the Cowboys play the Redskins and there surely used to be emotion involved in Raiders/Chiefs games in the 70s. However, none of those things is permanent and none approaches the level of fervor that exists in “Rivalry Games”. It is – for me – the most compelling part of college football as a sporting attraction.
Finally, here is an astute observation from Lou Holtz back in the days when he was the head coach at Arkansas:
“I have a lifetime contract. That means I can’t be fired during the third quarter if we’re ahead and moving the ball.”
But don’t’ get me wrong, I love sports………