Now that we know that the Cleveland Cavaliers came back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals to win the championship, can we put to rest how this one game and this one series affects the “grand scheme of things” in the history of basketball?
This series does not “validate LeBron James” as the greatest NBA player of all time. He is obviously one of the best players ever; that was evident before this series began and it remains the same now that it is over.
This series does not “validate” all of the statements from “old-time players” that the Warriors are a soft/jump-shooting team who only got lucky last year. The Warriors won 73 games and lost only 9 all season long; they are a great team.
This series does not expose Stephen Curry as some kind of “fraudulent star”. His team lost to another team led by a great player. One team had to lose…
However, most of all, the results of this series does justify putting an end to the hand-wringing columns about the downtrodden Cleveland fans yearning for a championship. They have one; we need not read any more pabulum about their “plight”.
One more note about the NBA playoffs in general … I have watched some of the early games in the College World Series on TV and would like to pose this rhetorical question.
What is worse in 2016:
The calling of balls and strikes in the College World Series – – or – –
The officiating in the NBA Playoffs?
That would be a tough call to make, indeed.
With the playoffs over the NBA looks ahead to the draft later this week – I shall have something to say about that down the line – and then a short off-season where there will be consideration of rule changes for upcoming seasons. In general, I think Adam Silver is a good and positive force as the NBA Commissioner; he is a significant improvement over his predecessor, The Sultan of Smug. However, there are reports that he wants to make a change in the rules that I think is a really bad idea.
According to reports, Adam Silver wants to change the rulebook to eliminate the “Hack-a-Shaq” strategy some teams use by fouling opposing players whose free throw percentage is around 50%. The Commish alleges that this strategy slows the game down (no argument there) and said slowdown is bad for TV (where the NBA derives the vast majority of its revenue). I note that The Commish only “alleges” this to be true since NBA Finals’ ratings were higher than ever this year and advertisers paid more to obtain ad slots on NBA telecasts this year than ever before. That data would seem to indicate that viewers are not tuning out nor are advertisers taking their dollars elsewhere
Basically, changing the rule here done to protect three players from embarrassment and to – nominally – shorten games in which their teams play. Those players are:
Andre Drummond: Career free throw percentage of .380
Dwight Howard: Career free throw percentage of .568
DeAndre Jordan: Career free throw percentage of .421
In a sense, changing the rules here is a reward to these players for their ineptitude at one aspect of the game. If that becomes a basis for rule changes, I surely hope that The Commish did not watch any of the Sixers’ games last year because they had loads of players who demonstrated a high level of ineptitude at many levels of the game.
I can understand that the NBA changed the width of the free throw lane when Wilt Chamberlain was playing simply because he was so big, strong and agile that he turned some games into a dunking display. In that case, the rule change was done to increase competitive balance and to make it more difficult for a great player to dominate games. Here is what I mean by dominate:
In 1961-62, Wilt averaged 50.4 points per game, played in 80 games and averaged 48.5 minutes per game.
In the first 12 years of his career, he averaged 21.1 rebounds per game or higher.
At the same time, Wilt Chamberlain was a poor free throw shooter (career average was .511) and teams would often resort to fouling him intentionally. There was no hue and cry back then to change the rules to prevent that tactic. In fact, it was a strategy that made a lot of sense back then– as does the current strategy.
Here is the real solution to the “problem of slowing down the game” – if indeed such a “problem” exists:
Make those guys work to learn to shoot foul shots.
How do you do that? Well, you do it through the power of the purse. If you want to change rules, penalize those players for poor free throw shooting in such a way that coaches will take them out of games and sit them on the bench in close games in the 4th quarter. That will diminish their value significantly the next time they are in free agency – and that will motivate them to spend lots of time with coaches in gyms practicing and learning to shoot free throws. Do not penalize a team for trying to exploit a weakness on their opponent; if you must “penalize” anyone or anything here, penalize the incompetence.
Finally, I ran across this last item somewhere but neglected to note where I found it so I cannot give credit to the originator:
Q: Why doesn’t Pittsburgh have a pro basketball team?
A: Because if they did, Philadelphia would want one too.
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………