NBA Finals, NCAA-style

LeBron and Giannis would need to carry their teams each and every night to play for the ‘chip in a win-or-go-home tournament. (Photo: Bleacher Report) 

As I punched out another solo training session in preparation for season 2020, I relied upon a podcast to get me through as I often do.

The pod of choice was ‘The Steam Room’ – featuring Ernie Johnson and Charles Barkley. They’re two of the four members of  ‘Inside The NBA’ – an award-winning TV program on American television station, TNT.

In this edition, EJ and Chuck invited their Inside The NBA co-workers Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith onto the show and the results were immensely entertaining. It certainly made my 5km run tolerable.

A idea was raised by Kenny Smith on how to attempt to complete the NBA season. With most teams having 15 or so games remaining on the schedule (which would include an enormous amount of travel) his idea was to run a ‘March Madness’ NCAA basketball style tournament with all 30 teams.

I like the concept! Win or go home – to isolation. Talk about motivation.

Of course, it’s nowhere near what we are used to with the NBA. Long, gruelling 7-game series with significant travel in between is the norm for the NBA playoffs but these are incredible times that require incredible versatility and lateral thinking to make the things we love viable again.

NBA journalists have mentioned the possibility of quarantining teams in one location and playing in empty stadiums. The requirements on players is large. Being away from family for at least a month whilst America is still in the midst of significant infection and death rates is atop that list of requirements.

I love the uniqueness and randomness of the tournament style playoffs system.
The top teams are not completely hamstrung by this because they can seed the tournament based off the regular season which has already been completed.

And whoever wins the championship deserves the championship. Don’t give me the asterisk title garbage either. Everyone enters under the same circumstances so no one is disadvantaged.

In the NBA, durability and consistency of performance is the key to success. This one-and-done situation would be foreign to most but add incredible excitement and hype to a season which will likely need to wrap up quickly as to not compromise the following season as well.

A win or go home scenario would certainly see some highly ranked teams exit the ‘playoffs’ earlier than normal and many would argue that’s an unfair situation but the entire COVID situation is unfair – we just have to make the best of what’s left until our new normal resumes.

I for one would love to see double-headers on a nightly basis with the losers heading home for the season and the winners advancing to the next round.
Perhaps, time permitting, you could still play a series for the semi-finals and a traditional NBA Finals format but I love the prospect of seeing teams play for it all on a nightly basis.

What do you think ?



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