Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, center, loses the ball between Golden State Warriors forward David West (3) and forward Andre Iguodala (9) during the second half of Game 1 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series in Oakland, Calif. The Warriors won 121-109. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
A couple of outspoken NBA owners have proposed seeding playoff teams 1-16 by record, regardless of conference. What say you?
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Steve Aschburner: I say, calm down. The problem isn’t having weak clubs sneaking into the playoffs because of a lopsidedness in conferences. The problem is having 16 teams qualify from a 30-team league. The first round is going to reflect the difference between excellence and mediocrity no matter what. Besides, we’re supposed to get all bent out of shape and throw tradition overboard because of a couple of seasons of stronger low seeds in the West? Look, we’re still getting a Western Conference tournament. The order of the competition is a little off, from a traditional bracket standpoint. But if Kawhi Leonard hadn’t gotten hurt and Warriors-Spurs had been more thrilling than the Finals, big deal. Rivalries within the conferences still matter, and we’re only guessing how the potentially longer flights and travel time – think Boston vs. Portland on the tighter, early-round schedule — might affect the quality of play.
Fran Blinebury: If I were Mark Cuban, I’d still be kicking myself for breaking up the 2011 championship team and wasting the end of Dirk Nowitzki’s career rather than pushing for a drastic realignment. Truth is, even if the playoffs went 1-20, the Mavericks still wouldn’t get in. As for the members of the media pushing the idea, I have listened to so many of my cohorts whine and complain about the grueling travel during the 2-2-1-1-1 format of The Finals the past several years. I really don’t want to start hearing their crying in April when they have to go Miami to Portland in the first round. Everybody should just relax and get back to trying to figure out how to beat the Warriors.
Scott Howard-Cooper: I say let’s ask the outspoken owners what they’re thinking when teams are flying coast-to-coast multiple times in the first round and then maybe again in the semifinals, greatly harming the product on the floor. It’s an interesting idea to debate from a competition standpoint, but flawed and impractical in many ways.
Shaun Powell: Please, no! I understand the West is stacked right now and that LeBron could tilt the scales even further next season. But let it go. This is cyclical, and besides, the complications of such a realignment are several. You’re only hearing this noise from owners and coaches of teams in the West who are fighting for the last few playoff crumbs. Nobody else cares.
John Schuhmann: If travel wasn’t a factor, I’d be all for it. But the travel for a 2-2-1-1-1 series within the conference is difficult enough. The Finals is back to 2-2-1-1-1, but with extra off days when the series goes from one city to another. Doing that in every round when East played West would be difficult. It also could create a later-round advantage for a team that played a neighbor in the previous round against a team that went coast-to-coast in the previous round.
Sekou Smith: I say get outta here! (And this isn’t exactly a novel approach. It’s been discussed for years by people at all levels around the league.) I’m not a fan of the idea. Not at all. I love how people always want to the rules to change to accommodate their own interests and pursuits. How about you do a better job of putting together a competitive team? Don’t blame the system, gentlemen, especially since you’re a part of the body that put it together and benefit from it tremendously when you are among the playoff outfits. I wonder how those same “outspoken” owners would feel if they were on the outside looking in of their proposed 1-16 … I guarantee you they’d be singing a different song.
Ian Thomsen: It is shortsighted. The meeting of East vs. West in the NBA Finals is a big deal — especially now that the divisions have lost significance and rivalries are so hard to find. By keeping the brackets separate until the very end, The Finals benefits from the cultural differences that so often emerge when East meets West. For those owners who are demanding change of some kind, I would suggest they focus on re-seeding after each round to account for upsets. But don’t mix the conferences. It would be heresy for the Celtics and Lakers (or Cavaliers and Warriors) to meet anytime other than the championship round.
Lang Whitaker: I guess I am something of a traditionalist, because I do not like this idea. Teams went into the offseason knowing there were two Conferences, and they had to build a team good enough to get out of their Conference, if they wanted to get to The Finals. If the goalposts as going to move, at least give the teams a year or two to let them change their plans. But if you’re going to do away with Conferences, then do away with them altogether in favor of one big table of all thirty teams. And let’s also do away with the All-Star Game, since there won’t be East versus West to play against each other. For now, sure, the West is mighty. But at some point someone will come along and make the East great again.
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