For months, our NBA stories have been about large, wealthy men glaring across the table at smaller, wealthier men.
I wonder if they’ve talked any about whether they’ll need to do anything to win back the fans?
If so, one school of thought will have had it that when the electricity comes on in arenas across the land, the people will shout, “Look! Shiny lights!” while tripping over each other on the way to the box office. The argument will be that our citizenry has no memory, even for insults.
The counter-argument? The players should walk into the crowd to shake hands and sign stuff. The teams should give away plastic key chains and stuffed mascots festooned with logos. Lowering ticket prices will have occurred to nobody. And because the owners and players increase the take by playing as many games as can be jammed into what is laughingly referred to as the basketball season, nobody will have suggested an abbreviated season, even when it isn’t made necessary by a lockout.
That’s too bad.
I’m not saying they should always start the NBA season on Christmas, although that might be kind of fun, but who besides those counting the take wouldn’t welcome a shorter edition? In the NBA season as we have come to know it, some players have acknowledged that they can’t get excited about every game. That means some number of paying customers get cheated of the opportunity to see the athletes playing as hard as they can. The long season beats players up to the extent that post-season games often hinge on who’s healthier. Not healthy, because by mid-April, nobody who’s been playing NBA basketball several times a week since Nov. 1 is healthy. Healthier.
Then there’s the playoff format. There’s much to be said for a best-of-seven game series, especially when it goes seven games and provides intriguing story lines. But what if the first round of playoffs and even the second was win or go home? One game. It works for March Madness and, of course, the NFL post-season. Major League Baseball’s going to try it when they add two more wild card teams. I suppose there’s no chance it’ll happen in the NBA, but hasn’t it been fun to hear some pro basketball talk that doesn’t involve deadlines, name-calling and law suits?