By Daniel Dai ’22
The National Basketball Association (NBA) is messed up. It is becoming a business alliance where ratings and profit are the priorities. It is not a basketball pilgrimage anymore, where fair and fierce competition and good sportsmanship are praised, particularly because of the following reasons:
- NBA Play-in Tournaments
Maybe Adam Silver wants to create the excitement of March Madness in the League. Maybe Adam Silver is deceived by the Warriors vs. Lakers play-in game last year, which averaged 5.619 million viewers, the most for an ESPN NBA telecast since the 2019 Western Conference finals. But NBA Play-in Tournaments cannot replicate the excitement of March Madness, and they make competition unfair.
Ratings for Play-in Tournaments this year are terrible. ESPN averaged 2.44 million for Spurs-Pelicans and 2.11 million for Hornets-Hawks, down at least 57% and 8% respectively from last year’s equivalent windows. Even though those are win-or-go matchups, fans are reluctant to watch games between teams with no superstars, small fanbases, and limited social media presence. Play-in tournaments ratings would not go up unless it’s the Knicks vs. Celtics or KD playing against LeBron.
After losing both games in the tournament, the Cleveland Cavaliers became the first 8 seeds that could not make the NBA playoffs. In the past, the Cavs would’ve definitely made the playoffs. The new rule creates unfair competition, particularly in situations where 8-seeds lead multiple games on the teams behind. Is using play-in games for qualification a fair way to recognize the hard work this team has put in all year long?
- Terrible Refs
As I wrote this article, the Celtics are playing their 4th game against the Nets. In the final quarter, Celtics Star Jayson Tatum was fouled out after an “offensive foul.” Tatum got tangled up with Goran Dragic, but he did not appear to do anything to merit a foul call. This was the fourth offensive foul Tatum received in this game. Fortunately, the Celtics were able to pull through and eliminate the Nets, albeit the terrible reffing.
This is not the first instance of terrible reffing in this year’s playoff. It seems like whenever a team has a match point in the series, the league wants the refs to manipulate the game, so the other team can win one or two more games, in turn bringing more views and profits to the league. The Raptors-76ers Game 4 was atrocious. In the third quarter, no whistle was blown no matter how hard the Raptors players jostled Embiid in the paint, whereas the whistle was blown nearly every possession for the Raptors. In Grizzlies-Timberwolves Game 4, Morant, Bane, Brooks, and Tillman each received two fouls in the first quarter, and the wolves had 15 more free throws attempted than the Grizzlies in the entire game.
When games are manipulated by bad calls, players will lose their passion for competition, knowing the game is unfair. The game itself is also less enjoyable to watch as the whistle must be blown every possession for some minor, ambiguous contact. And to put it simply, terrible reffing shows absolutely no respect for sportsmanship and fair, fierce competition.
If NBA wants to recover to its good old days, it must reform the game itself, rather than increasing advertisements or manipulating rules. In fact, since the rule change, this season–NBA no longer rewards offensive players who launch themselves into defenders–the games have been fun to watch, as competitions go smoothly without constant interruptions of fouls. This shows that there’s hope to bring back the passion and intensity on the court in the 80s, where everybody adores fierce and fair competition as we do at Woodberry.
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