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stern

Basketball Players’ Night Off Makes a Stand for Sitting Out

David Stern’s heart is in the right place, but as usual, his methods make a mess of everything.

I appreciate Stern’s coming from, and as a paying fan, I am grateful that he’s at least appearing to look out for his paying customers.  We sold our tickets to the last Broncos game against the Chiefs (the last game of the season) and right now I’m scared about the prospect of the team having nothing to pay for, and the tickets my friends are using for family Christmas presents won’t look as great without Peyton and Von Miller in the game.

Ultimately sports is in the business of entertaining people, more so in the NBA who actively markets their stars to the point of charging more for visiting teams with more famous players.  It’s not unreasonable for a fan to expect to see said stars when they buy tickets to this game.

Coach Popovich’s best interest is the well-being and competitiveness of his team, and I do respect his decision to limit the number of minutes for critical players. However, the ultimate error was when he had those players fly home and not even attend the game.  At least have these guys come in and sit on the bench, or even better: play them 2 minutes and throw the fans a bone.  It’s also one thing if you give one player a night off, but when four of your five starters aren’t even in the building – that’s a problem.

Stern, a business leader, is trying to serve his best interests: his paying customers (both the fans and TV partners).  Where Stern went wrong was with his tactics, by threatening the team before the game with an “or else”, then slamming the gauntlet and trying to set a precedent. The problem is that David Stern doesn’t have a lot of room to talk when he says “disservice to the league”, when he presides over a league that schedules 4 games in 5 nights, that experienced a lockout where games were missed last year, as well as belittling those who have the audacity to question the legitimacy of a lottery awarding their top draft pick to the league-owned team. David Stern shouldn’t be casting stones from his glass house.

All of this mess could have been avoided if one guy stepped in and did his job: Peter Holt, the owner of the San Antonio Spurs.  While Popovich acts in the best interest of the team’s competitiveness, Holt’s job is to straddle the line between competitiveness and entertainment enterprise.  Wearing his “enterprise” hat, he should have stepped in and canceled those plane tickets, forced the players to at least go to the arena: either in shorts or suits. It’s his job to look out for the greater good of his organization, and avoid a PR mess like this. Popovich may not have been happy, but would accept this compromise, because his boss – who is looking out for bigger interests – told him to.

Hopefully good can come from this. It’s time for the NBA to have a serious conversation about an 82-game schedule, and whether these crazy road-trips are really worth it.  People don’t start paying attention to the NBA until your 10-week playoffs start anyway.

Coming around on LeBron

Congrats to the Heat for winning their first championship last night as “the big 3”.  Like many, I was completely put off by The Decision and the fact that the Heat players celebrated this championship 2 years early.

However, I’ve come around. I think that at this point LeBron realizes that he invited a lot of the vitriol by those actions and is looking to move past this.  I’m more than happy to, and am grateful that both the Heat and Thunder gave us some exciting playoff basketball.  LeBron played out of his mind this year, demonstrating just how bad he wanted to get the “no championship” monkey off his back.

Since my sports hate against LeBron is dissipating, I’m glad that other members of the Heat are stepping up in their “give us reasons to hate us” efforts.

First off, Pat Riley’s puppet – Erik Spoelstra – after spending all of the post season with the players ignoring him, decided to wear his new champion ship hat backwards.

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I’m sorry, but just like there comes a time in every man’s life when he realizes he’s not going to play professional sports, there also comes a time where a guy looks like a complete dufus when he wears his hat backwards.  For most guys this happens at 25 – and while some can stave it off until for another year or two – 27 is the absolute cut-off date. At that point, the hat either goes forward or comes off.  Just like Tony Romo, it looks like Erik missed the memo.

You would think your coach looking like a 12-year-old would be enough, but Chris Bosh had to put it over the top by treating the world to the most awkward champagne shower of all time.

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And now with the marvels of technology, it’s now an animated gif:

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At least now we know what it means to celebrate like a Bosh.

LeBron-pocalypse

We knew it was bound to happen. While the romantic in me was hoping that LeBron would stay with Cleveland, the team didn’t do him any favors by not getting him the right help to win a championship. I’m not quite sure I see the appeal in going to Miami.  There is the innocent “I’m going to play with my friends” aspect which I can definitely understand.  However, LeBron has always been very self-aware of his image and understands his potential legacy – and it baffles me that the part of him didn’t consider that now he’ll be looked on as a glorified Scottie Pippen to Dwayne Wade’s MJ.  Wade is now always going to have one more ring than LeBron, and it doesn’t help add to LeBron’s legacy of not being able to win one on his own – that stigma followed Kobe around until last year. Now LeBron’s just prolonged his tarnished branding.

It’s still funny to see this build-up reprehension against LeBron. Not longer than a few hours after the announcement, owner Dan Gilbert tarred LeBron in a letter on the front page of their web site – using the  Comic Sans font! For those without a designer’s eye, Comic Sans is the web equivalent of crayon.

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Crayon-writing aside, the letter is definitely worth a read. Gilbert likes to put words like “King” and “motivation” in quotations, many of them very unnecessarily so.

However nothing tops the front page of The Plain Dealer out of Cleveland.  The best part is the little arrows pointing to his ring-less hand.

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So we’ll see where all of this goes. It seems like overnight three superstars 2 superstars and 1 gravy-train have seemingly changed the landscape of professional basketball, forming a Yankee-like evil empire.  We’ll see how long it’ll be before they win any championships.  Any predictions?

Playoff Schedules: Who screws it up the most?

Rocktober is here! The Rockies are in the playoffs and I’m really looking forward to see the Rockies take on the Phillies. only to find out that the game aired at 12:30pm on a Wednesday?!?  We’re talking about playoffs – the pinnacle of your season – yet MLB in it’s idiotic lack of wisdom puts the game on when the entire country is at work and can’t watch the game.  At what point is this a good idea?   I realize that these leagues feel like their game should be the only game on TV, but at what point does it seem like a good idea to air your game in the middle of the day compared to airing two games in the same night, or rotating the 4 games with 2 on each night for opposite nights?  Thanks for nothing baseball!

However baseball isn’t the only sport that screws up their playoff schedules.  Nobody is perfect at doing this, but a lot of leagues have a lot more to learn than others.

NFL

It’s pretty hard to screw up football, and the NFL does a pretty good job of not killing momentum with the playoffs.  With the “1 and done” format and the fact that the NFL is played on weekends, it’s not surprising the the Super Bowl is an unofficial national holiday.

What they need to improve: Get rid of the week between the Conference Championships and the Super Bowl.  While I’m sure all those involved with the game appreciate that week, it’s excruciating watching the hype-machine in overtime.  This year they’re putting the Pro Bowl in that week between the games, so hopefully this schedule/format change will improve things a bit.

NHL

The NHL arguably does the “best of.” playoff series most effectively.  The NHL isn’t afraid to alternate nights, and have teams play on the same night, yet ensure that each series effectively gets a share of the spotlight.  The playoff rhythm is strong and consistent from the start of the playoffs to the Stanley Cup Finals.

What they need to improve: Get on a network where people can watch them.  They would have the perfect playoff format if they were on at least a major cable network.

NBA

The NBA is obnoxious with it’s playoff scheduling, especially in the early rounds.  You have teams that play one night, then won’t play again until 3 or 4 nights later.  They get in a better rhythm in the later rounds, but it’s tough to get through the first round and realize that the playoffs are going to span a better part of 2 months.

What they need to improve: Go to a best of 5 series for the first round, maybe even for the 2nd round.  Alternate nights for these rounds so that the series won’t last longer than 10 days.  If necessary, air 3 games on the same night.  The Eastern/Western Conference layout makes it easier to make sure the home teams can get a the game on in their prime-time.

MLB

MLB has a lot of wrongs that they need to correct, and they need to start with October.  First off, they need to get their games at times when people can watch them. That means that they need to get their first-round games out of the mid-afternoon time slot, as well as get their League Championship Series and World Series at earlier start times so that people on the East Coast can watch them without staying up until 1-2am.  Trust me, the West Coast will tolerate a 4:30 start time for the World Series.

What they need to improve: Aside from the previously mentioned time changes, they need to move to an “Alternate Night” model and stick with it.  if a series ends early, don’t be afraid to kick it off reasonably early.  Rest after a series is not a right guaranteed to both teams, it’s something you earn by sweeping your opponent. It’s inexcusable that the Rockies had to wait nearly 10 days to play the next round.

Honorable Mention: College Basketball. They do the most effective job maintaining intensity for a 64 team playoff throughout the end. If they could just do away with the 64/65 “Play-In” game they would be perfect.

Dishonorable Mention: College Football. It’s hard to have a playoff schedule without a playoff.  Aside from that, the fact that the bowl games are played up to 5 weeks after their last game is asinine.