|If Whoopi Can Act, I Can Be Commish|
It’s a fun contest they have kids play. Be the Mayor or Chief Of Police for a day. They’ll go around as everyone pretends they’re in charge to humour them. In the movies they take it to the next level and the winner will start making major decisions that, by god, save the town from inevitable disaster.
So what if the job was NBA commissioner and instead of a movie it was reality? Here’s what I’d do. Not reducing the schedule to 40 games. No huge changes. I’ve previously made lists of big ways to fix All Star, the NBA twice and the useless discipline system. These are just small changes that would be felt across the NBA.
1. Mic Players And Refs
|Why Can’t An NBA Player Swear
Like A Hockey Player
I want to hear everything. This really only works with the near removal of fines for things players/refs say. Is it worth it? Yes. When I watched HBO’s epic series, 24/7 – The Road To The Winter Classic I was constantly thinking one of three things. First, the supreme intensity and entertainment value of hockey at it’s best. Nice come back NHL. Second: what if the NBA was not so paranoid about it’s image that it let the game be a man’s game again. Third: what if they actually let us see that raw, real hoop at the highest level for what it was always supposed to be?
I’m sick of NBA Cares. I want trash talk and stares.
2. Get Rid Of Homer Announcers, And Loosen Up The Heavies
|Reggie Kind Of Sucks At His New Job
But He’s Clearly Not Being Himself
Every once in a while when you watch feeds or downloaded games, they forget to flip a switch and you catch announcers talking when they don’t know it’s on. It’s better. They give their real opinions instead of the postured ones. Their banter is better. (Reggie warned Kevin Harlen not to give him a golden shower during one game). Their analysis is better. Let them loose off the leash. Let them be themselves.
That would improve things. Removing Homer announcers would entirely change how the game is portrayed. Homers in general suck and the Homer Booth only creates more of them when they actually take something that Stacey King says seriously while openly cheer for the Bulls. Tommy Heinsohn also deserves strong mention. Get rid of all of them and replace them with real people who actually know how to call a game. Speaking of which…
3. Hire Gus Johnson To Call Everything
|Gus Isn’t Screaming, He’s Calling
His Own Demise… With Excitement
If Marv Albert is the greatest hoops announcer ever, then Gus is #2, except Gus is actually #1. No one. No. One. Calls an exciting game better then Gus Johnson. He elevates how the sport of basketball is perceived by a brain processing it. I’ve mentioned in this space before how Gus Johnson got me excited calling the ball boys wiping up sweat after a foul. I looked up fully expecting them to do something miraculous and laughed at myself.
It’s time for the NBA to hire this guy to call huge games and the playoffs. Announcers are all trying to be the next Chick Hearn. “Hand down man down” pretty much means nothing and we have to get back to people who actually get into what they’re watching. I don’t care about how the Van Gundy brothers used to play in their driveway. Why not put Dick Vitale beside Gus Johnson? Could you imagine how much better the Bulls/Celtics classic series would have been with them? How could this not make the NBA product better?
4. Remove All Canned Music From Stadiums, Only Organs Allowed
|Humber Gardens: Home Of The
Corner Brook Royals Where My Dad’s
Organ Rocked Fans Into A Frenzy
When I was a child, my father would take me to see the Corner Brook Royals play hockey in my sparsely populated home town. We didn’t have to pay to get in. Why? Because my dad played the organ for all the hockey games. When they won the national title in 1986, they made sure to bring him with them.
Because in sports, organs matter. To this day, 25 years later and after he passed on, people still contact me about their memories of my father. He’d get them going to another level they didn’t think possible a minute before. I sat beside him seeing him work an entire stadium on a PA I still own today. He’d see that the team was sluggish and knew what songs to play to get the crowd going for one last boost in the 3′rd. Musicians feel crowds, gather their energy, and feed it back in like an amplifier circuit. The Pussycat Dolls just suck.
I remember watching MJ, Reggie et al do some of their most amazing feats without fireworks or the latest pop sensation playing on speakers while the game was on. NYC still has that organ and I noticed it like an old friend I hadn’t seen in a decade these past playoffs. It’s still awesome and rockin MSG. Everyone agrees so I’d put them everywhere. Thanks for the memories Dad! Organs matter.
5.Buy The NBA On NBC Theme Song
It’s just better. Yes, it was written by an enormous douche John Tesh, yes, he spent years wasting a nation’s brain cells on Entertainment Tonight, but we’ll give him this, he wrote the best sports theme song ever. So just shell out NBA, spend what it takes. Get the theme song from NBC and force everyone to use it. It’s called branding and unfortunately you sold out the guys who branded the NBA better then anyone to ABC’s Survivor money. It’s not too late though and everything has it’s price. Get the song and every opening to every game is instantly better. Fact.
|Watch The 2009 ABC Finals Intro With
Roundball Rock And No Editing: Amazing!
6. One Ring To Rule Them All
Or one ring of announcers? Just out-right hire the announcers and broadcast staff from all the networks. Take some control over how the NBA product is packaged and published. Why are we listening to Magic say just about nothing in the NBA finals when TNT’s crew is so much better? It’s silly we listen to Mark Jackson when Marv Albert is alive. Just find a way so that the best people covering the game are there when it matters. Make it part of the TV contracts that networks have to share guys and make the best product possible for the good of all.
7. Let The Refs Give Interviews
|If Refs Could Explain This Conversation Maybe
People Could Understand Why Their Horrible
Calls Ruin Games Instead Of Judge Them For It
Of all the baffling rules the NBA has this is the cake. Why not let officials give interviews after games? I’m sure they’re grown men who won’t buckle under the pressure and embarrass the league… the players do a good enough job of that. If a ref made a bad call he can explain what happened and 9 times out of 10 it’s going to make sense. Let them defend themselves instead of just getting killed in the press along with the NBA’s image. If they can just explain the thought processes maybe people will understand more. Ref’s will also instinctively be more motivated to get calls right if they know they have to explain themselves after. It’s just so black and white.
8. Provide Better Stats
|If Derek Fisher Leads
The League In Charges For The
10′th Time And There’s No
Stats, Does Anyone Care?
The work for many unpublished stats is already done and sitting in the NBA’s databases. All they need to do is release it. Not even release, they just need to display it. Use it.
Take drawn charges. We see them in the play by play, but you have to go to hoopdata.com for a list of leaders. There’s a plethora of other stats that are MIA. Quarterly stats? Open shot percentage? Shot contests? Hockey assists? All these things invariably matter but the NBA just doesn’t seem bothered to acknowledge, record and publish the information.
When they do, it’s going to look quite stupid in years to come, much like not having the shot blocking numbers from Bill Russell or Wilt’s career looks today.
It’s not from a lack of interest. It’s not from a lack of resources to do these tasks. If some behaviour on a basketball court helps teams win and can be quantified, we should have stats on it. Derek Fisher gets almost 0 love from a statistical ranking because he does things that don’t go in box scores. He’s maybe the best player in the league over the past 10 years at something very important but is just seen as a role player.
9. Add A 4 Point Line
Why not? If you hit a shot from behind half court or even 35 feet it should be worth more simply because it’s exponentially harder. It’s more spectacular. As I see it, anything that helps a desperate team get back in it when they are on the ropes should be a go. Could you imagine how intense a 5 point play would be to swing a game?
When I went to ABA games in Halifax they had a great rule. Force a TO in the back court and a light went on. If you made the basket on the ensuing possession you got an extra point. Leads were not as safe and players D’ed up to win because even if they were down 10 points, they knew they were in it. Desperation creates drama.
10. Make The Court Bigger
|They Dropped The Cages, Why Keep The Floor?|
I’m a little surprised this has never been experimented with before. The court is not designed with a specific purpose. It’s an arbitrary 50 feet wide. Even if there was a method to this it’s long since become irrelevant. Players have become incredibly bigger, stronger and faster. The space may have been good for people with peach baskets, maybe it even suited the guys in the 50′s, but for much too long the game has been cramped into either end of the court.
When the NBA adopted the 3 point line in 1980 rather then sensibly widen the court since players would now be spaced out more they shortened the line on the sides. The result: players have 3 feet on either side of the court to work in. Why? Is this better? The elite athletes of the NBA can cover this distance in 2-3 steps. They never really get a chance to get going in any half-court set slowing down the action and making it easier for weaker athletes to defend. Not even to mention, this style of play is largely responsible for so many injuries that hamper the marketability of the game.
Widening the court will give players more room to operate and open things up for the most athletic/talented players. It creates an all around more exciting experience. Instead of getting trapped in the corner we’ll see split double teams and widened passing/attacking lanes for better ball movement and so many more vicious assaults on the rim.
Of course. this is not the movies, and I’ll never be commish of the NBA, but it does not stop me from playing the what if game. I still often wonder why the NBA is so reluctant to experiment with even minute changes to improve things for all. David Stern loves to talk about the tradition of the game, but in reality I think he’s just a pretty unimaginative guy who’s more about the NBA’s books then the game itself. The only change he’s gone after, The New Ball, blew up in his face because it was actually just a marketing gimmick they’d put no thought into.
|Bad Movie, Good Idea|
It’s likely to never happen, but I’ve never understood why teams, owners and the league office are so bloody content when they are sitting on such a base of talent. Why not shake things up a little and make some harmless changes? Why not have a commish for a day contest? Haven’t they ever seen Little Big League?