Three NBA Resolutions for 2016
*Photo via NBA Facebook
During my freshman year of college, I was lucky enough to land a part-time gig at the local activities center. My job consisted of a lot of sitting on uncomfortable stools, occasionally pegging elementary aged children with foam dodge balls and signing everyone and their momma up for gym memberships when New Year’s rolled along. You really wouldn’t believe how many people sign up for memberships as their New Year’s resolution, only to be seen in the gym maybe three or four times in that year; old habits die hard I guess.
With the buzzer sounding on 2015, I felt the sudden urge to have some New Year’s resolutions of my own…but not exactly for me. These resolutions are for anyone and everyone who loves the NBA, and want change in 2016. Not that Trump 2016 kind of change, but more of sane person kind of change.
1. Dim Spotlight Stats
We are smack-dab in the middle of the information and analytics age of the NBA. Every NBA team should have a dedicated analytics department that facilitates on-court decisions and possible roster moves. As a consumer base, we aren’t fed the majority of analytical data that litter the infrastructure of the Association. Instead, we are bombarded with, “he’s the first player to have X amount of points on a cloudy Sunday in January after eating Taco Bell for breakfast and dabbing at half court before the game; that’s a record!” Maybe it’s not quite that bad, but I bet if one of the faces of NBA did exactly that, media would find a way to spread that poison through multiple platforms.
In my Kawhi Leonard style defense of mainstream media, it makes sense why majority of programming would include spotlight stats. There is a 24/7 media cycle that needs to be relatively fresh, and there’s nothing better than mumbo-jumbo number filler when you’re running out of legitimate information.
It also makes the viewer subconsciously want to watch. Remember when LeBron James was in Miami and in the midst of setting the record for most consecutive games scoring 25-plus points while also shooting above 60 percent from the field? First of all, not a record, just a statistic…but by calling it a record, it adds a level of investment from fans. In other words, the term “record” makes all of us care, whether we realize it or not.
In 2016, I’d like to see a stop to the consumption of senseless statistics that are camouflaged as records. Spotlighting a performance by adding qualifiers so it stands out from a crowd is crafting a false reality. Let’s just stick to watching the games and sharing meaningful numbers
2. New Prescription Glasses for most Team-Based Announcers
I don’t know how I survived this long without getting NBA League Pass. It’s seriously like a marathon of your favorite show, every single night, and there aren’t any recycled episodes! If only Mr. Robot or Orange is the New Black was like that. Anyway, League Pass is amazing, but it isn’t without its flaws.
One of the best parts about league pass is you get to listen to team-based announcers. These commentary teams are able to provide you with intimate detail about their team’s players, coaching staff, front office and the feel of their city; it makes you feel closer to the team. However, when you’re too close, you care a little too much, and things need to be put back into perspective.
The downfall of these announcers is not that they are rooting for a specific team; it’s that some of them are blinded by their desire for their team to win. Some games morph into drunk fans at a bar calling the game instead of professionals. When those certain commentary teams fail to find a balance between fandom and professionalism, it hurts the viewing experience tremendously. There’s nothing wrong with being a fan and being illogical about your favorite team, but as an audience, we need these talented broadcast teams to give us insight on the actual game, not the one being played in their head.
3. That’s Foul
Remember the 2015 playoff game between the Rockets and the Clippers which featured Hack-A-Shaq on Dwight Howard, Josh Smith and DeAndre Jordan? Well this resolution has absolutely nothing to do with that.
There has been much speculation about banishing the Hack-A-Shaq strategy to the Dead Zone, as watching free throws without any basketball being played between is ridiculously boring. But if we’re being honest, majority of the population spends time on some sort of device while watching games. Unless the free throws are in the final seconds of the game, people hop on their iPhone to check something that doesn’t need checking. The only real issue is that games can sometimes run late…really late. Regardless, the strategy is only used on a handful of players and isn’t the biggest fouling issue the NBA has.
Intentionally fouling up three points is the biggest fouling debacle in the league. It’s a sound strategy that most coaches should employ if their teams have been coached on how to do it, but man, talk about buzzkill. I want to take you back to mid-November, when the Warriors put their win streak were on the line against the Nets in Oracle.
So after watching that wild ending in regulation, you’re telling me that fouling up three should still be allowed? Imagine Brooklyn did foul and Golden State shot two free throws, you’re okay with the final seconds of the game coming down to foul shooting? You still don’t see it as an issue? Well what about when playoff games come down to the wire? From a consumer's perspective, what if Game 3 between the Pelicans and the Warriors came down to free throws instead of a three to send the game to overtime? Would you be okay with watching a free throw contest to end the game instead of the MVP doing MVP things?
How would the NBA implement a new rule and how would the referees enforce it? I have no idea, but there are always rule changes to make the game more exciting. You want fancy dribbling? Let’s remove hand checking. You want teams having a real chance to win or tie games? Let’s advance the ball to half court after a timeout. To this list, how about we add; you want more exciting finishes? Let’s stop teams from fouling when up three.
As we watch 2015 slowly fade in our rearview, the New Year should be a time we demand for improvements on the hardwood from the league, media and from ourselves. Welcome to 2016 everyone.