News of David Stern’s exit from the NBA was known for a year and a half. Stern made the announcement publicly and stated he would be helping Adam Silver transition as the new commissioner. Time passed and his exit came swiftly. Silver has came in and dealt with a whirlwind situation with the Clippers and has done a few other things to win over NBA personnel.
What matters to fans is what the product represents on a night in and night out basis. In baseball there is lousy attendance throughout the franchises. The prime reason is because of the product on the field and the duration of the season. In football there are only eight regular season home games so teams primarily do well because it’s on a limited exposure basis. Sure there are some teams that draw blackouts every week but the ticket sales for those games pale in comparison to some numbers drawn in MLB and the NBA.
The product on the NBA court right now just does not suffice an 82 game season. It started to wane in 2000 and became noticeable on a nightly basis in the mid 2000s. Structure of the game has fled. Teams do not seem as focused on a nightly basis. Maybe it was the influence of higher paychecks. Surely there are several factors that have caused the decline in solid basketball.
Lets just run through the Eastern Conference as an indicator of how poor basketball is right now. We saw Miami turn into a shell of itself and literally get to the Finals as a one-man show in LeBron James. Indiana was considered a favorite to win the NBA title at one point last year. Months later they were getting beat by the poorest of teams on a night in and night out basis. Now they’ll be without Paul George and Lance Stephenson.
Chicago has been a steady team largely because of their head coach, but watching them play in the regular season can turn into a yawn fest. Pick out of a hat and you can go on and on about the nightmares of watching teams from the Eastern Conference play. The Knicks were a scrimmage style defensive team with one on one intentions on the offensive end of the floor. Atlanta and Toronto played with energy but lacked synergy and direction.
Let’s not even get into teams such as Detroit, Milwaukee, Orlando, Philadelphia etc.
I’ll give the NBA credit. They’ve done a great job masking the woes of the league currently. Marketing has been phenomenal. Of course the league is filled with talented superstars, any professional level sport is. They can hammer the name LeBron James and Kevin Durant 100 million times and keep printing money to the NBA headquarters.
But to watch the entire league fall in a year to year steadily decline is depressing.
It’s easy to see the difference from the premium basketball the 1990’s had. Veterans had bigger roles and a passion for the game. You did not see the amount of 2nd and 3rd year players getting starters minutes that you do today. Coaching was done on both ends of the floor and held a higher standard.
Now players passion dwindles when they get that first big paycheck. All out talent that was on display in college and high school has been scaled back to turn up the effort when they need to.
Out of all the major sports none appear to be on as big of a decline as NBA basketball. Hopefully Adam Silver can ignite some major changes to franchisees that seem to care more and more about the dollar than their product. It only can last so long before heads start to turn to another outlet or sport.