Fix the NBA Finals (Just Don’t Forget the Super Bowl!)
Sorry, folks. I know this is a local Web site and that most of you come here to read about what’s going on in the H-Town scene. But, truth be told, the Astros bore me right now and even the spirited Brad Lidge debate isn’t enough to fully rouse me from my Houston summer sports slumber.
So, speaking of boredom, it seems the entire nation is sleeping right through the NBA Finals. In fact, I hear the people who bring you Ambien are deathly afraid that their product may soon become obsolete. Having issues with insomnia? Just go back and watch Game 3 between the Spurs and Cavs and you’ll be enjoying sweet dreams starring Eva Longoria in no time. Predictably, the low ratings and sloppy play has prompted a plethora of calls for the Finals’ format to be tweaked. Things have gotten so bad that ESPN.com’s Bill Simmons says basketball fans are far more interested in trade talk and draft speculation than the action taking place on the court. No argument here. But I do take exception to this excerpt:
“When you think about it, there's really no parallel to this phenomenon in sports or pop culture. Baseball peaks with the playoffs and World Series. Football peaks with the playoffs and Super Bowl. Golf peaks with the Masters and the U.S. Open. Television peaks with the season finale of a show. Movies peak when the movie is released. Music peaks when the album is released. So when does the NBA peak? Certainly, not during the Finals -- the ratings keep dropping and we've had two genuinely entertaining Finals (2000 and 2006) since MJ retired.”
Sorry, Bill. But the NBA isn’t alone. The NFL faces the exact same problem.
Think about it. The Super Bowl is an overhyped and underwhelming event that bears little to no resemblance to what we see every other week of the season. People look forward to the idiotic commercials more than they do the game itself. It's a joke. In fact, the Super Bowl is consistently more of a letdown than the NBA Finals. Just because the ratings don't indicate that doesn't make it less true. I mean, people continue to inexplicably buy Fergie's music, don't they? And I certainly hope no one assumes her platinum albums make her anything more than the Crappy McCrapperson phony that she is. Never mistake popularity for quality. By the way, if you’re a Fergie fan, feel free to subject me to the same treatment Clay Aiken’s army gave my colleague, John Royal. Trust me. I relish the opportunity to respond. And for those who’d like to take me to task for ripping the Super Bowl, please keep in mind this entire paragraph was written by one of the biggest NFL fans on the planet.
Simmons also declares that one of the reasons for the NBA’s “singular” problem stems from the fact that it’s too easy for one conference to be stacked with elite teams. Umm, how is the NFL any different? The AFC has dominated the league for years and shows no sign of letting up. And lest one think this is a relatively new development, the NFC reigned supreme for more than a decade, ruling the NFL during the 80’s and early 90’s. Last I checked, this didn’t exactly stunt pro football’s growth in North America.
As for Simmons’ concern that basketball fans are paying too much attention to the draft and free agency during the NBA’s marquee event, I’m pretty sure plenty of NFL folk find solace in draft talk the second their team gets eliminated (either in the regular season or playoffs). I don't think that's unhealthy either. In fact, I see it as a great way of passing the time while enduring Super Bore match-ups like Ravens-Giants, Colts-Bears and Steelers-Seahawks.
Look, I'm all for realignment in an effort to ensure the best teams face each other in the Finals. But I want the same thing for the NFL, too. Both leagues face the same problem; it's just that nobody says anything about the NFL's issues because it's the most popular league in the land.
So let your call for postseason revolution ring throughout the land, Bill. Just make sure Roger Goodell gets a copy of the memo, too. – Jason Friedman
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