It’s difficult to imagine that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has needed this many years to finally do his job properly, or that David Stern never did it, but it has finally happened.
Both conference finals have gone seven games, which means it has been 39 years since the league so many people believe fixes its results has finally succeeded in the delicate art of stretching series to seven games.
For the first time since 1979, when the Seattle SuperSonics, Phoenix Suns, Washington Bullets and San Antonio Spurs contrived to throw the maximum number of games (according to research from ProBasketballReference.com and the AALPSC; Amalgamated American Lunatics, Paranoids and Shadow-Chasers), we have what so many people in Internetvania is the league’s true mandate – to extend series to their maximum number of games so to get the most money for themselves and their media partners.
And hey, these days, why wouldn’t you trust an army of the laziest thinkers, the reflexively suspicious and the certifiably deranged?
Between those glorious days when the NBA last understood how to make more games, there have been 585 playoff series, of which 146 went the maximum number of games, whether they be best-of five (the first round until 2003) or best-of-seven. This is not even a 25 percent success rate, worse than James Harden’s three-point shooting percentage in the Western Conference Finals, and even worse than Process megahero Sam Hinkie’s winning percentage as general manager in Philadelphia.
This is, in short, shoddy work of the first magnitude – if you think maxing out series is the driving goal so many people believe it is.
And since convincing people who believe this that they might be wrong is akin to licking Kilauea clean, we have decided instead to ask the question, “Why hasn’t Silver done something about this?” His seven-game percentage is worse than Stern’s, and worse than Stern predecessor Larry O’Brien’s. What is he playing at?
And worse still, how will this record of GLOT (games left on the table; under Silver alone, 105 of 518 potential playoff games have gone unplayed) play with his 30 employers if the league’s proposed integrity fee on legalized gambling is approved?
This is the kind of gross inefficiency that modern math-made magnates would find inexcusable; hell, it is the kind of gross inefficiency that Arnold Rothstein would have found inexcusable.
So the conference finals maxing out may be a sign that Silver and the NBA is finally understanding that the real key to long-term success is inventory management.
Either that, or the league is just teasing its one-head-multiple-voices constituency with what is actually just a competitive anomaly created through the confluence of four excellent but flawed teams. The Warriors have had a difficult time navigating their own boredom, the Rockets have been trying too hard to turn back the clock a decade, the Celtics are too young for the rigors of road uniforms, and the Cavaliers are too LeBroniac.
But they have done seven games, and everyone remembers with horror the metronomic excellence of last year’s Golden State team, which played only one game more than the minimum and banished 11 potential games to the theoretical realm.
Still, nobody respects a small sample size quite like a conspiracy nut, and these conference finals have been like Christmas with a side of Mardi Gras and Free Liquor Fridays.
In short, we fully expect a sweep in the Finals, because the league doesn’t fully get it yet. But once they get that integrity fee, it probably will. I mean, what else are convenience charges for if you can’t slap them on everything in sight -- including all those unplayed games the game-fix aficionados seem to be braying for so loudly?
||Warriors 119, Rockets 106
||Rockets 127, Warriors 105
||Warriors 126, Rockets 85
||Rockets 95, Warriors 92
||Rockets 98, Warriors 94
||Warriors 115, Rockets 86
||Houston -- Monday, May 28th at 6pm
The National Basketball Association got only one real lift from All-Star Weekend, and that is that LeBron James got to summarily dismiss Laura Ingraham.
Other than that, the big announcement after a largely uninspiring weekend was that Commissioner Adam Silver is going to televise more of the only thing the All-Star Game is actually good for – the assembling of the teams.
I suppose that isn’t exactly the bounce the league was hoping for from its first experiment in a format the National Hockey League abandoned as dated and the National Football League couldn’t make people care about their Pro Bowl, but the league’s bounce is the league’s problem.
So are the introductions, which one supposes will be sped up next year in Charlotte so as not to allow folks to remember why the game was in Charlotte two years after it was supposed to be in Charlotte.
But the only real production values the league ought to care about are the identities of the players on the two teams, if only because of our obsession with what we erroneously call “snubs.” If the idea is to see players irked by not being named, or elated by being named, then that is where the league’s focus ought to be.
That point was made fairly clear when Chris Haynes of ESPN was given the identities of the last two players drafted on this year’s teams – Boston’s Al Horford and San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge. That was supposed to be a closely guarded secret apparently at the behest of Stephen Curry (who had a tough weekend himself), and yet it tumbled out like so many others – because it was one of the few curiosities about this event.
So if the idea is that the selection of the teams is the only real value other than the weekend price-gouging, then Silver’s job is to finish the job that begins by televising the draft – specifically, to televise the selections of the backups from which the draft emanates.
I mean, why do the players have to show their work while the coaches do not? Why is secrecy allowed for the suits but not for the sweats? What sort of anti-egalitarian message is being sent here? Fight the power! Rage against the machine!
And then when that’s done, the league should cozy up to Las Vegas again to undo some of the damage caused by its ridiculous “integrity fee” fiasco. After all, one of the undertold stories of the weekend was the way the betting line for the total plummeted once the smart guys figured out the two teams would not try to break 200, and everyone loves a betting coup. Thus, keeping up to date on betting trends, one of Silver’s ongoing initiatives, would seem to be an imperative in the years to come.
Well, that, and coaxing some fringe political yammerhead to insult one of the players for no decipherable reason. That one never fails to stick the landing.
The NBA finally put together its proposal to get a piece of the burgeoning gambling market, and the highlight is its rake.
Namely, one percent of all of it.
Adam Silver has been the one commissioner of a major North American sport to embrace the concept of legalized gambling, on the very sensible theory that it’s already happening. The only question was what their piece would be for advocating its legitimacy, and it was answered Wednesday by league attorney Dan Spillane, testifying before a New York State Senate committee.
A penny of every bet. Every money line bet, every bet against the line, every over/under, every teaser, every prop bet. If The Logo is on it, the NBA gets a kickback.
It will be the same, with varying percentages, for the NFL, Major League Baseball, the NHL (yes, there is lots more action now that there’s a team in Las Vegas that has the best record in the sport and looks like a lock for the Stanley Cup playoffs), the PGA, the USTA, the USOC and even Major League Soccer. They’ll all opt in for a piece.
But the trick is in what Silver and his 30 overlords decide to do with that one percent. If it’s just a windfall they get for doing nothing but nodding, it will be of no value except to them. If it is part of the revenue split with the players, we may see LeBron James as the game’s first $50 million-a-year player. If it goes to charitable and/or regulatory causes to keep the games on the square while putting some additional muscle behind the league’s talk about social justice, then one percent might not be enough.
After all, the only thing better than getting paid to no longer be a hypocrite is to help somebody else with the money. Between that and the fines accrued for technical fouls and ejections this year, the NBA might be flush forever.
And I think the league would certainly agree to that.