Is the NBA losing to College basketball for some sports fans?
The annual ESPY award show put on by ESPN was created to reward athletes from around the world for their hard work, skill, determination and more. When Former NFL superstar quarterback Peyton Manning was hosting the ceremony, and in the opening of the show, he absolutely shredded NBA champion Kevin Durant’s move to the Golden State Warriors to create what many sports fans called a “super team.”
This term is one that applies mostly to basketball and originates from the Miami Heat of a few years ago who signed Lebron James and Chris Bosh to join Dwayne Wade and form the NBA’s super team. Durant remained unimpressed as Manning poked fun at him by complementing the United States Olympic gymnastics team who captured the hearts of America during the Rio Olympic games last summer.
Manning said “and our gymnastics team was so dominant, that Kevin Durant told me he wants to play for them next year... and I gotta tell you I don’t think you would start for that team Kevin.”
He went on to bring Durant’s former teammate in Oklahoma City, Russell Westbrook, to the joke. Westbrook showed clear disdain for Durant following his relocation to the California coast and games featuring the two stars often got chippy. Peyton was full of NBA rips throughout the night as he proceeded to hammer home the negativity and criticism of basketball.
Manning later stated, “Remember that tonight it doesn’t matter who wins or loses just like the NBA regular season.”
Many sports fans find it hard to watch the NBA. They often view it as a lot of fanfare for a product that does not really impress with “real” basketball. Many contend that college basketball is more entertaining because of the deep rivalries and the style of play. College basketball is more focused on defense and in March Madness, anyone can win. In the NBA, super teams and superstars are often the deciding factor before the game even starts. NBA commissioner Adam Silver has shown a free market approach to the league and has allowed many trades and signings in order to assemble super teams. Oklahoma City were one of the first examples of a super team after the Heat and now Golden State has taken over as the power of the league. They won all but one playoff game en route to the NBA title this season which was not a surprise to many. Just one year prior, Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers came back from a 3-1 deficit to beat Steph Curry and Golden State in the finals. The league has been dominated by Golden State from the West and Cleveland in the Eastern Conference. In the playoffs, both teams eased their way to the finals. The Warriors lost no games until the finals and Cleveland only lost once before they bowed out to Golden State in five games. What is exciting about a predictable league. Shouldn’t the commissioner try to even out the teams? Is he not responsible for encouraging fair play and increasing the competitiveness of the league?
By creating a super team and allowing the league to rally around it, the league alienates the fans of “less important” markets like the Milwaukee Bucks among many other NBA franchises. They cater to the bandwagon fans who are only interested in following a team who wins. The NBA obtains its revenue from bandwagon fans who buy tons of merchandise from their “favorite” team. Many contend that the NBA is really not producing the most entertaining product. The games are generally very high scoring and many players and teams could care less about defense. Basketball breaks the old cliche that defense wins championships. It is all about scoring and more scoring. The rules favor the offense and it is hard for teams to defend.
Basketball gets a ton of coverage on the news from ESPN and other sports news networks. ESPN also over-covers basketball. Every show, if you look at the time spent talking about each subject, the overwhelming majority of time is spent on basketball. NBA games are short and often do not even matter until the last four quarters. The sport is a lot of up and down scoring basket after basket. I want to enjoy basketball. But it is hard to stay interested in. The aspect of competition level is a huge detractor for me as well. How can anyone root for a team when the disparity in talent between two teams is overwhelming. The difference between the Golden State Warriors and the Philadelphia 76ers is vast. Games are exciting when they are competitive. The talk of super teams is a problem. ESPN has been covering a lot of rumors during the NBA offseason about stars like Paul George and Carmelo Anthony leaving their teams to go and join up with teams like the Houston Rockets to try and create a super team capable of toppling the Warriors in the Western Conference. How is that exciting as few teams get better and more teams get worse when they lose their stars?
The league makes a lot of money. They just signed a new TV contract and raised the salary cap a lot. This means that nearly every player is making a lot of money and many are getting overpaid because teams have to spend a certain amount of money per year. Even Richard Sherman from the Seattle Seahawks encouraged other football players to go on strike in order to make NBA level money. It is great that NBA players can make money but do some low level players deserve to be making ridiculous sums of money? Even if they barely play or are barely on the team?
The NBA needs to put a more competitive and exciting product on the court. They need to do more for the fans of small market teams and they could even expand the league to draw more interest from more sports fans. The insane amounts of money they make and the less exciting product they put on the court. College basketball, in my opinion takes the cake in producing a more exciting game. Nothing in the NBA garners as much interest as March Madness and they are way more predictable which is part of the NBA finals. The NBA is hard to watch and the league should check its priorities to try and create a more exciting and competitive league.