NBA lockout brings opportunity for change

Of course, after the most fascinating playoffs and Finals in at least 10 years, including TV and attendance records being broken, NBA fans get to stare down one of the most painful beasts in pro-sports—a lockout. The owners say the players are making too much money, the players say they are making too little. It’s the same story every time.

Now, I certainly have my useless opinion on the actual CBA discussions which comprises heavily of limiting the amount of maximum contracts a team can hand out over a time period. So Joe Johnson, Andrei Kirilenko (he got paid 17.8 million dollars this year!) and Carlos Boozer can’t make Kobe and Lebron money and that one team *cough* Heat *cough* can’t sign numerous top notch players in a short period. Contracts should be shorter and the Mid-Level Exception (the brilliant rule that allowed Jason Kapono to make around 6 million dollars every year) should be dumped faster than Juwan Howard’s corpse.

Besides that? The owners should just be smarter. One second they say they are losing 300 million dollars, the next Elton Brand is making more than Lebron. There’s no discipline but at the same time there have to be rules so that you can be competitive without feeling the need to overpay for an Elton Brand, Corey Maggette or Hedo Turkoglu if you’re a smaller basketball market.

However, this is all fairly boring and obvious. Players definitely need to make less money and it will happen whether it takes one month or eight months. But while we’re reshaping the NBA—can I suggest a few more changes that I would like to see?

1. Fines for floppers

There is a huge difference between ‘selling a call’ and ‘flopping’. Selling a call is when there is contact—but the reaction is embellished. Flopping? Well that’s this.

We need fines or even suspensions for those ridiculous “he-didn’t-even-graze-me’ flops. And I don’t have a problem with players doing it now. If the NBA officials stopped calling out of bounds, the players should use it to their advantage. It ruins momentum of games as well. An offensive foul can ignite the crowd, put foul trouble on other players and—most importantly—take away a possession from the other team.

AK-47 stars in 'I just got shot by an AK-47'

I really think NBA officials get too much hate for the job they do. At the end of the day, a good call is expected and any bad calls are a sign of a mass-conspiracy between David Stern, Tim Donaghy and the Illumati. Blatant flops need serious penalties.

2. No more dunk competition fan voting

The marquee event of All-Star Saturday night, the dunk competition, can never live up to the J-Rich-Carter days. It just hasn’t and never will. The dunk competition will forever be anti-climactic. The guy who dunked on TWO baskets at once lost to the guy who dunked over the hood of a car. Blake Griffin could have done a lay-up and won.

I don’t actually care that much if Griffin won with worse dunks. It doesn’t bother me that much. What bothers me is that with fan voting, the result is all but pre-determined. Unless JaVale McGee dunked blindfolded from the halfcourt line, he was going to lose. Justin Bieber won the celebrity basketball game on the Friday afternoon in this year’s weekend even though Scottie Pippen put up a performance that would make anyone born after 1999 think he might have been better than Jordan. It’s all a popularity contest. If fan voting doesn’t change, Griffin will be there again next year.

3. No more automatic double-technicals

Two guys bump into each other, share a few words (sometimes, well worded sentences) and yap about each other’s moms for four or five seconds. Wait! Here comes Bennett Salvatore! DOUBLE TECHNICAL!

It’s not a bad system for an every once in a while occurrence, but trash talk and verbal fist fighting are fully embedded into the NBA game—especially in the playoffs. Why can’t we let these guys settle their own disputes? I’m not saying to start fighting, but let Kendrick Perkins and Tyson Chandler get a little angry at each other. Once you give them technicals, you risk what happened to Paul Pierce against Miami in Game 1 when he picked up a dumb double-tech with James Jones and then got another one in the 4th quarter which kicked him out of the game.

Here’s the worst part of Pierce’s double-tech with Jones—he didn’t deserve it. James nudged his face into Pierce’s cheek after their discussion got a bit too intimate and it led the officials to punish both of the players. It happened to Chandler this year as well (I forgot against who) when someone bumped him on the shoulder and both guys were T’d up. If I was an NBA scrub, I’d be brushing shoulders with the other team’s star the whole game and hope for a quick double tech.

I’d rather see the guys broken up, separated and calmed down. Heck, send them to the bench until the next whistle. I’m okay with that.

Refs have turned into the guys at parties who run up to every guy talking to a girl and complete kills any momentum the guy had. “Hey! What are you guys talking about? Let me in on this! Oh, I totally love that band too!”. The second we start selling those Harry Potter invisibility cloaks, the NBA should buy one for each ref. We really should never have close-ups of refs during a game—in fact, the best-officiated games are often those in which I don’t know who the officials are.

4. Three Stars

Here’s one thing from hockey that I absolutely love. The three stars after each game is absolutely brilliant. It holds no value long term but gives fans a bunch of immediate benefits:

  • A) The post-game cheer-on. I love it. There’s not enough cheering for individual players after a win outside of the time when the game’s over and the best player gets taken out of a game to a standing ovation. But there’s no recognition during close games when the star players can’t go to the bench early for the crowd’s approval. It boosts player and team morale and makes everyone feel warm inside. Not only that but players can develop a little “star-routine”—John Wall dougies after being first star, Blake Griffin throws down a dunk and Deshawn Stevenson does like five monocle signs.
  • B) The in-game debate. While I’m sitting home towards the end of a game I want to predict who the best three players on the floor were that night. It adds to the in-game discussion. You don’t see anybody asking their buddies who the best three players were.
  • C) I want to give unnecessary credit to hustle bench players. I want Zaza Pachulia and Lou Amundson to get a standing ovation after a 7 and 7 game when they had two hard-tough fouls, played stingy defence, waved a towel down the stretch and did at least one ‘wing-flap’ to motivate the crowd and/or dive into the stands for a loose ball. These people need the love.
  • D) Why the hell not?

5. Release all audio from coach’s being Mic’d Up 

This is essentially WikiLeaks for basketball junkies. I know TNT and ESPN have a guy that filters for the most family friendly, ambiguous and non-threatening audio from the coaches during the game—but he also hears all the coaches completely lost on the sidelines, bad mouthing players with the assistant coaches and, of course, projecting the most profanity littered, insulting, ‘you-wish-I-was-talking-about-your-mom’ rants at incompetent players during the game.

Riley is watching. Do. Not. Turn. Around.

I know, it’s all R rated material—but here’s my plan. Do a massive Inside the NBA hour and a half feature in movie theatres where you just have coaches unfiltered on the sidelines. I would absolutely pay to see that. I would pay just to hear from Erik Spolestra in Game 4 of the Finals.

“What the #$!@ is happening to LeBron?”

“We cannot win a Finals game with Wade, Bosh and Mario Chalmers”

“We need to call Mike Brown at halftime”

“Is Jason Terry better than Derrick Rose? Is that the only logical explanation right now??”

“Rashard Lewis?!?!? ARE YOU SERIOUS??”

Or at least TNT and ESPN needs to hire me to go through all that audio.

(Sidenote. The NHL for sure needs Mic’d Up. I feel like hockey coaches discuss more strategy on the bench—as opposed to just yelling “LET’S PLAY DEFENCE” and “HEY! C’MON! LET’S GET GOING” like in the NBA—and Mic’d Up would 100% allow us to get closer to these coaches. They feel so isolated from us. We don’t hear them and the only time we see them is just pacing behind the bench. We need more emotion)

Bring these five elements into the game next year and I might be able to tolerate unbelievably high player salaries.

By the way, at this point in his career, aren’t we just paying Gilbert Arenas 17 million dollars to run a Twitter account?

My NBA posts are now being syndicated on Beating the Buzzer. You can check out Beating the Buzzer on Twitter @btbsports. Follow Two Guys Sports @2_GSB or my own Twitter @the_REAL_alexb. Tweet. Tweet. Tweet. Tweet.

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