Commissioner Adam “Bald” Silver has finally heeded the bellowing of the enraged villagers waving their pitchforks and their simple arithmetic and their incessant demands for a playoff seeding redesign. By abolishing the perks of a ludicrously meaningless Division crown, Silver has taken an important first step towards true reform. On it’s own a modest guarantee that a division winner won’t end up with no lower than a 4th seed (though not necessarily home court advantage I mean really what fresh hell is this) is a start, an opening salvo towards ameliorating the glaring competitive imbalances that have made playoff seedings and especially the disparity between Western Conference and Eastern Conference such a joke for years and years.
The West is brutal and if you take a week off you die and the vultures eat your crummy guts. In contrast, Eastern teams can limp and shart to 39 wins and are rewarded with an opportunity to play fast and loose and without judgment. Some glorified JV squad from a place that serves bratwurst for breakfast can put a genuine scare into a wobbly first seed or a contender dealing with injuries. All this while Russell Westbrook fumes and binges on early One Tree Hill.
So, that is to say that this setup is not strictly fair in the way that things are supposed to be fair. And that’s part of the problem, as fair and our obsession with fair has nothing to do with it. You want fair? Clone LeBron James twenty-nine times and put King James replicants on every roster. No matter how genuinely intriguing and perhaps ultimately necessary cloning LeBron seems, we’re a few years away from Congressional Republicans letting us get away with this. No, we’ve been looking at this sideways, pining for the all too simple and utopian “Best 16 Teams” playoff format. It’s not divisions that are the problem, it’s these antiquated quasi-geographical based Conferences. Portland is not close to Oklahoma City, and regional proximity is no longer the deciding factor in rivalries. The world is no longer flat, as Thomas Friedman can attest. The NBA has lost its sense of danger. We need to bring the danger back and in a dangerous way. 82 games plus pre-season going through the motions just to see the Spurs probably win a championship and 6 musty teams from the East inexplicably get the occasional primetime game. Take an axe to your daddy’s NBA and enter the Bilderberg Group’s NBA. First off, conferences are gone and here are your new divisions:
Division 1: The Hell Boys
Division 2: The Murderers
Division 3: The Unsullied
Division 4: Family Guy
Division 5: The Pen15 Club
Division 6: The Last Division
Much like the AFC/NFC or National League/American League these divisions will make no discernible sense to cartographers or historians. In reshuffling the toxic deck we’ve accomplished a clean slate. With each new division a healthy balance between East and West and good and shitty, there will no longer be an entire half of the league that drinks acid-rain Dasani nor will there be a tacit guarantee that whichever team LeBron is playing for will face exactly two and a half tough-ish games before stomping into the Finals.
So what does this mean in practical terms?
It means we now have an 83 game season. The extra game is sponsored by Sprite.
Teams will play their own division 5 times. They will play teams in other divisions a paltry 3 times. Each team will not play an entire division every season on a rotating basis.
Players will have to travel across the country for division games. Flying in shitty but this is really going to be okay.
“I’m Shipping Up To Boston” will be illegal to play during games especially in Boston. The new fight song of the NBA will be Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart”.
Division winners have the option of picking their first round match-up as the knights of old did in the jousting years.
There will now be a 4-point line though it will be invisible and it’s exact location will depend on the court.
Oh yeah, courts will now be different dimensions.
Dogs are no longer allowed to play basketball.
Teams can forfeit any game, but must do it before half time.
One goal-tend is allowed per game though you must “call it”.
The worst two teams in the league will be eligible for relegation to the D-League. A one game winner-take-all tournament will be held between those horrible teams to see which is bound for the minors. The D-League team with the best record will get to be in the NBA for a year and without a doubt be relegated the following season.
Each playoff victor will be allowed to “borrow” one player from the team they just vanquished. Teams will be able to “protect” two players and keep them ineligible to being “borrowed”. If a borrowed player is on the roster when a team wins a championship, that player will not receive a ring and may not join in the celebration.
Coaches must take a style lesson from baseball managers and don a uniform to establish camaraderie with the team.
No more high-fiving after missed free-throws. It feels disingenuous.
The winner of the tip-off gets two free points because it’s hard work winning a tip.
The Instant Replay room in Secaucus is to be burned to the ground.
Games will be played in complete darkness.
The Star Spangled Banner will be replaced with a hymn to the Dark Lord. Unlike God or the President or whomever, the Dark Lord does not require you to take off your hat.