Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tell me why you don't like the NBA ~ I'm honestly curious

I have a lot of friends who don't like the NBA.  I always find this interesting, but different strokes for different folks.  We all don't have to like the same things.  However, I am curious.  For those of you that say that you, "Hate the NBA", I was wondering why.  Did you use to like the NBA during the Jordan years and now that he's gone, you don't care anymore?  Do you think the athletes get paid too much and are spoiled?  Do you think that the guys don't play hard?  Do you like college basketball better or are you not a fan of the sport at all?

It's no secret that I love the NBA, so it's not like I'm looking to change anyone's mind or anything.  Just like I said, I was curious...

Any comments would be appreciated since I'm genuinely wondering.



  1. I don't really follow or care about the NBA for many reasons.

    - Image: I'm a middle aged white guy who does not relate to the image that the NBA sells one bit. I can't stand hip/hop music or the "story" it tells, and to me the NBA spends a large amount of time selling itself to this market segment.
    - Demographics; the NBA is somewhere in the range of 76% black, 3% white, 3% hispanic and 17% foreign (mostly european, some south american). I'm White. Sorry, it isn't racist but I can't relate.
    - Salary structure; Pro basketball players are vastly overpaid compared to other sports in America. Lists of the top 20 highest paid sports figures in the USA is usually 50-60% basketball players.
    - Guaranteed contracts, players not efforting 100% and the value of an expiring contract. I hate the fact that there are dozens of players on the final years of their deal that couldn't care less about their performance or the game at large. There is little relationship between someone's salary and their effort on the floor. Gilbert Arenas; $20M/year plus and he's a bench player for Orlando.
    - Demographics: i didn't grow up liking or caring about basketball, didn't go to a school that had big time college basketball, and now have little use for either the college or the pro game.
    - Accessibility. NBA players are physically amongst the upper fractions of 1% in terms of height among the US population. I'm of average height for US males. I don't really relate to a game that I had almost zero chance of playing professionally as a kid. Point guards in the nba are now routinely 6'4" or taller. In that respect it is not an every-man's game nearly as much as a sport like soccer or baseball (which anyone can play no matter how big or small you are).
    - Perceived effort (or lack thereof) of professionals: i've been to NBA games and the players look like they're just going through the motions. The season is far too long and the players coast for long periods of it (see playoff point below).
    - Sleaziness of the amateur game. AAU teams, unaccredited high schools (Montrose Christian in our own area), shoe sponsorships for 12-yr olds, coaches getting "jobs" so their kids will attend schools (see OJ Mayo), one-and-done rules in the college game.
    - Cost: NBA games are prohibitively expensive as compared to professional baseball or soccer. (I have a similar complaint about Hockey too).
    - Game atmosphere; why do they play music snippets at FULL BLAST in the arena during the games?? Why is the assumption that my attention span is so small that I need to have music played while players dribble the ball up the court? Its loud, annoying, distracting and cannot possibly be endorsed by players trying to concentrate on their game.
    - Playoff Structure; You play 82 games over the course of six and a half months just to eliminate less than half your teams, then play for another two months of playoff series? Come on. You want a good playoff system, make it a 4-team playoff in each conference. Today the 8th seed in the eastern conference is TEN games under .500. That's patently ridiculous.

    (continued in next comment)

  2. But perhaps my biggest problem with the NBA is something that nothing really can be done about.

    - Teams' Over-reliance on Individual players for team success. Lebron Leaves Cleveland and they're going to go from a 60win team to possibly a 70 loss team. One player. Yeah he's the best out there but its indicative of what most teams go through. Washington hasn't had a marquee player at the Lebron level since Wes Unseld and it is no coincidence that they have barely made a playoff push since the early 80s.

    What this basically means is that a team has NO chance of winning unless you have a super star. Zero. Why people continue to buy season tickets for teams like Cleveland, Washington, Toronto, Minnesota, Sacramento or New Jersey is absolutely beyond me.

    And, to take things to the next level, Teams have ZERO chance of winning an NBA title without at least TWO and in the modern game possibly THREE hall-of-fame quality players. Go back through every champion since 1980 and you'll see a distinct pattern. You can name at least two future hall of famers on every team. the lone exception is probably the 2004 Pistons, who won more because the Lakers famously fell apart versus the Pistons having superior quality players.

    So, now to have any chance of winning a world championship you need two hall of fame class players. But there's only so many to go around and lately these guys are essentially naming where they'll play. Lebron and Bosh-> Miami, Carmello-> New York. I'm sure Chris Paul will suddenly name his team soon too.

    And, there's so little room to improve in the draft that teams can't really improve themselves, even when they go 22-60. The draft lottery means you're not guaranteed the top pick even if you're clearly the worst team in the league. And once you get outside the top 15 picks in the draft you're literally drafting ROLE PLAYERS. that's right. There's so little talent draft to draft that teams benches are filled with first and second rounders who barely can play in the league.

    Its so amazingly rare to find an all-star quality player outside the top 5 picks, that you have to essentially be god-awful for years on end to have a shot at getting your two superstars to become relevant. The best young players in the league right now are probably Griffith, Westbrook, Love, Rose, Durant and Horford. Draft positions: 1,4,5,1,2,3. Perhaps the best player in the league who wasn't a first round player is either Ginobli or Monta Ellis, and I can't quite say either is a hall of famer. (I can share a spreadsheet I made to support some of these statements).

    So the Wizards got John Wall. Great. they're still 1-29 away from home and on pace for the lottery again. When will they be a 55-win team so that I can possibly care again?

  3. thanks, todd. this is exactly the feedback i was curious about. while i don't agree with some of your points, i can respect where you're coming from. personally, initially i enjoyed basketball when i was younger since my dad was strict and kept me home on weekends. i used to bond with my dad, while we watching games on tv, and ultimately i just got hooked.

    the nba is notorious for the "wait until the last 2 mins are left before you turn on the game" mentality and even kareem made fun of himself for not running back to play defense in the movie, airplane.

    i'm not touching your amateur game comments. i've never watched an aau game in my life and don't plan to start :-P

    as for the draft, i think if there's garbage on the board, teams should be allowed to "pass". could you imagine? it'd be awesome.

    i've bought plenty of tickets and i still think football is more expensive, but i pick my games a la carte and utilize different methods to get my tickets (e.g. stub hub, scalp, ticketmaster, comps) so it's not as if i actually looked at the data or did my own study. it's no secret watching professional sports live is getting cost prohibitive, unless you like upper deck tickets... i don't.

    the playoff structure is flawed in football too. i think it's crazy that teams with below .500 records can compete for a title.

    some players are overpaid, but let's just put it out there. if the market couldn't and/or wouldn't bear it, then those guys wouldn't get it ~ regardless of the cba. problem is, some teams are too scared or unwilling to tell a mediocre player to "take a walk". agree - some of the guys that are sitting on the bench and haven't contributed in years or are lazy (i don't have the strength to name names) should be wearing ski masks and carrying a gun since they're basically "stealing". i'd like to take credit for that point of view, but that's not even my metaphor. i stole it from a 7' lithuanian who was in his prime back in the day.

    i agree you need 2 superstars to make a go of it, but i think teams are unwilling to take the time to gel. kevin love and beasley could be fanatastic in minnesota if/when they learn to close out games ~ but i doubt they'll have the patience to gut it out.

    everyone wants to win and they want to win right away. it's an immature mentality, and i don't like or believe in shortcuts. a truly great player can make the players around him better (i.e. your lebron example) but even then teamwork and success is not just the sum of its parts (i.e. lebron and bosh to miami).

    great comments. thanks again!

  4. An additional comment on player salaries. I've read several items over the years related to the money these guys earn and the lives they live and it just amazes me how completely out of touch with reality (not to mention vast portions of middle america) these athletes are.

    Latrelle Sprewell turning down a $12M contract, saying he had to "feed his family." I'll never forget that line and the utter ridiculousness of it. The median family income in this country is, what, $50k/year, so 12M represents 240 years of average income in this country. The unbelievable audacity of that statement still gets me today.

    Another anecdotal comment came from an NBA beat writer, who was discussing some finance issues with a player who said something along the lines of, "Man, i don't know how you guys get by on $300k a year." The multi-millionare NBA player actually thought that a) nba beat writers made $300k and b) thought that was a pittance of salary.

    Just a few weeks ago Gilbert Arenas' personal finances were leaked in divorce proceedings, showing that he was spending hundreds and thousands of dollars on a shark tank and its upkeep in his NoVa home.

    I suppose it sounds judgmental to read these things; the blatant opulence that these players live in. And certainly it isn't just limited to basketball. Baseball players are incredibly well compensated as well. But it does show one of the big problems in modern sports and pay in general ... the massive gap/dearth between the fans and the athletes.

  5. On costs per game: I sat nearly in the last row at a hockey game a few weeks back and those seats were $80/game face. I couldn't believe it. I've been to one NBA game in the past 5 years and paid somewhere north of that to get into the 100s.

    Yes, of course you can play the stubhub game or network among friends who have season tickets (something I certainly do with frequency for baseball games) but my point was related generally to the face value of seats. Why? Because thats basically what season ticket holders pay, and in this town season ticket holders represent a massive percentage of ticket sales for all the sports.

    Football? I will *never* go to Fedex field again if I can help it. Horrible stadium, price gauging at all points, $50 to park a mile and a half away, an owner with a Napoleon complex banning tailgating in the parking lot? At some point I hope he manages to kill that golden goose and watch him have to actually cater to the fans at some point.

  6. ok ~ but stupidity isn't exclusive to basketball. there's an even bigger disparity between people who make a lot and people who make "nothing" in football, and that is one point of leverage for the owners in the ongoing cba negotiations.

    personally i don't know how people live on $50K/year in the DC/VA/MD area if they have a family. i actually don't know how they do it if they only have to support themselves (i.e. without roommates and living on a tight budget etc.). cost of living is a factor. $1.2 million in cleveland will get you a 4 bedroom, 4 full and 2 half bath, mansion on the water ~ but $400K will get you my old 1 bedroom/1 bathroom unit that went condo a few years ago...

    it's no secret the more money you make the more money you spend.

    the issue is an individual issue (possibly and probably correlated w/the demographics issue you mentioned previously) regarding money management. not sure if you know the old chris rock joke about rich v wealthy. shaquille o'neal is rich, but the man who signs his checks (i.e. back in the day) jerry buss is wealthy.

    there are numerous athletes who don't understand that their career can't last forever (i.e. don't tell juwan howard i said that ~ he's been playing forever). plus, they might make foolish investments and/or trust the wrong people. look at tiki barber coming back to play football. my guess is that his is more of a personal issue and not a "for love of the game" scenario.

    as for gil, if he wants a shark tank, he can have a shark tank. i really don't care. plus, he's got bigger fish to fry. he's not married to laura and that relationship is a whole other issue. i'm not sure about the context as to why his finances were leaked. if she did it, it's probably to show the absurdity and win public opinion. if he did it, it's probably to show a financial burden. who cares? as a purist, i'm only concerned as to whether or not he plays AND can make his shots ~ but i gave up on his basketball skills years ago.

    i remember when the goal was to make $100K. now of course, $100K isn't what it used to be. it's all relative i guess...

  7. I'm right there with you on the hockey prices. Wow. For a not so great seat you're right, you will have to pay. Lowers run about 100-300 depending on team and location. Season ticket prices I can't comment on, bc I have no idea.

    Regarding FedEx field, I know media people who cover the games who'd rather drive to Philly then negotiate traffic and parking at FedEx. I'm not a Redskins fan, but if I was I'd be angry with the entire game day experience there.