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What to make of major changes reportedly proposed by NBA for 2021-2022 season

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What to make of major changes reportedly proposed by NBA for 2021-2022 season

In two seasons, the NBA season might look much different than the one we know.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe reported in November that the NBA and National Basketball Players Association were “engaged in serious discussion” on “sweeping, dramatic changes to the league calendar.”

Friday, Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported details of changes the league proposed for the 2021-2022 season.

Cutting four games from the regular season certainly wouldn’t be a problem, especially given the prevalence of injuries to star players — if anything, it seems the league could further reduce the volume of games. The notion of historical records being affected by the issue of a pre-82 game and post-82 game era shouldn’t be a real concern, especially in a sport that tends to value average statistics over accumulation.

The other proposed changes reported don't look quite as sensible.

Many teams around the NBA — the Sixers included — value being at their best for the playoffs, because that’s what it currently makes sense to do. That said, the rewards of matchups against lesser opponents and home-court advantage for winning in the regular season are significant enough to motivate teams to care about results before the postseason.

It seems unlikely that an in-season tournament would meaningfully shift the incentive structure. Besides the financial reward, is there any reason to treat the tournament games differently from typical regular-season games? The honor of getting to say you won the in-season tournament doesn’t appear especially prestigious, especially when compared to winning the actual NBA championship.

The play-in tournament would involve the seventh through 10th seeds, according to The Associated Press’ Tim Reynolds. No. 7 would play No. 8 for the seventh seed, and the loser of that game would face the winner of the No. 9 vs. No. 10 matchup for the eighth seed.

If the season ended today and this proposal had been implemented, the Nets, Hornets, Magic and Pistons would be the play-in tournament teams in the East, while the Thunder, Blazers, Kings and Spurs would be the teams from the West.

In theory, the existence of that tournament would further extend the playoff “bubble,” as well as encourage mediocre teams to push for a spot instead of tank. However, assuming those games would attract tremendous interest is a stretch. And, while the idea of a No. 10 seed earning its way into the playoffs and either scaring or even beating a No. 1 seed sounds great, that’s much less likely in a seven-game NBA series than in the NCAA Tournament.

Reseeding at the conference semifinals is an unnecessary proposal. It would introduce the possibility of Finals matchups between teams in the same conference for the first time, but that wouldn’t be inherently better just because it would be new. The league is fortunate to have decent balance between the conferences at the moment. There’s just not a pressing need to reseed.

For what it’s worth, Reynolds reports that the NBA claims its proposals are backed by fan support.

He writes, “The NBA told teams that a study it commissioned through a third-party company earlier this year showed that 60% of NBA fans want a shorter regular season, that 68% of fans said they are interested in an in-season tournament and 75% were interested in a play-in tournament to decide the playoff field.”

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Jerry Stackhouse tries to set record straight on scrimmages with 17-year-old Kobe Bryant

Jerry Stackhouse tries to set record straight on scrimmages with 17-year-old Kobe Bryant

At 17 years old, Kobe Bryant was scrimmaging against professional athletes and Philadelphia college stars, about to embark on a 20-year NBA career.

He impressed in those scrimmages with his skill and bravado. But, according to Jerry Stackhouse, Bryant wasn’t big on passing. 

Stackhouse, now the head coach at Vanderbilt, spent the first two-plus years of his career with the Sixers before being traded to the Pistons and matched up with Bryant in those scrimmages.

What happened with Kobe was nobody really wanted to play with Kobe,” he said on The Woj Pod. “[Former La Salle star and NBA player] Lionel Simmons, you used to always see him pulling Kobe to the side, like, ‘Man, you gotta pass the ball! You gotta learn how to do this!' Because the older guys were from Philly. … These stories kind of take on a life of their own. And yes, Kobe had some good days scoring the ball, because he could handle it so well. But he had tunnel vision at that point. You had pickup games, sometimes he didn’t even get picked up. 

“But again, because he’s so been great since this, these stories go back of ‘Oh, he beat Stackhouse one-on-one.’ Come on, man. Me at 20 years old, can you imagine a 17-year-old beating me consistently? I’d have hurt him first, real talk. Just physically, that could never happen to me. Did we play one-on-one? Yes. Did he beat me, did he maybe win a game? Yes. Did he consistently beat Jerry Stackhouse at 20 years old when he was 17? Hell no. I’m putting an end to that story. … Was he super talented and everyone saw great potential in him? Yes, but those scenarios … of Kobe Bryant, they’re a little bit of a different story when you go talk to people that were actually in the gym. 

Stackhouse noted that it took a little time for Bryant to adjust to the NBA game, which is true. The Lower Merion High School graduate played only 15.5 minutes per game as a rookie. Of course, he went on to make 18 All-Star Games, win five NBA championships and become one of the best players of his era. 

Though Stackhouse wanted to set the record straight on those one-on-one games with Bryant, he was still amazed by his ability at such a young age.

“This kid was unbelievable,” he said. “Just his ball handling ability … he grew up, obviously, emulating Michael Jordan.”

However, the members of the Philadelphia basketball community who were in the gym for those scrimmages were apparently ruthless in their critiques.

“I vividly remember the old heads from Philadelphia,” Stackhouse said, “[they're] like, ‘Come on, man, you gotta pass the ball! That ain’t how you gotta play!’” 

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Sixers fans can't stop laughing at Bulls for interviewing Bryan Colangelo

Sixers fans can't stop laughing at Bulls for interviewing Bryan Colangelo

Sixers fans, grasping at any semblance of basketball news, received a cruise ship-sized life line on Wednesday.

The Athletic's Shams Charania reported the Bulls have interviewed former 76ers president Bryan Colangelo for their top basketball ops position:

This is, of course, kind of a mind-boggling decision from the Bulls, considering the way Colangelo's bumpy tenure in Philly ended. 

You know, Burner-gate. Remember that insanity? Remember when the active general manager of the 76ers was linked to Twitter accounts actively disparaging his own players? That really happened!

And yet, despite the public unraveling of his time with the Sixers, and the unsavory nature of his resignation, the Bulls somehow deemed Colangelo worthy of an interview for this position as they try to kickstart their floundering franchise.

Sixers fans couldn't believe it:

Some laughed, and laughed, and laughed:

Some encouraged the insanity, because there's nothing Sixers fans love more than watching a tire fire form in real time:

And then, of course, Sixers Twitter came with the jokes, because they are ruthless and unceasing:

Colangelo actually landing the job is, admittedly, probably a long shot. But the fact that he could even garner an interview at this point in his career, and after his last stop, is both hilarious and confounding.

And Sixers fans are here for it, entirely.

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