The detestable NBA, a letter to David Stern

Mike Ashcraft

Dave, I am here to whine about what I absolutely cannot stand about your league.

Sometimes, I honestly wonder if you really have a clue. I often think you put the car on cruise control during the “Golden Years” of the ’80s and ’90s. Your league did not have a reputation problem when guys with last names such as Jordan, Bird, Erving and Abdul-Jabbar were the headliners of the show.

Now, your game has big-time public relations disasters, and you have no one to blame for that other than yourself. Instead of solving problems, I honestly see you curled up in the fetal position, wearing your Wilt Chamberlain PJ’s and crying yourself to sleep every night.

But have no fear, Mr. Stern. I am here to spell out a couple of the biggest problems concerning the NBA right now, and I’ll provide wonderful solutions. Maybe then you will get it through your thick skull that you need to worry about important things instead of designing a new, synthetic basketball that your players hated.

82 games

Is it really necessary, David? I know all 30 owners would freak if the season were shortened. Fewer games means less money, right? Not necessarily.

Look at college hoops. Teams only play about 25 games during the regular season. And what’s the result? It makes virtually every game a must-win. Just imagine what the NBA might be like if only 25-30 regular season games were played.

Every game would have meaning. The good teams would be forced to show up every night, and the divisional battles would leave fans on the edges of their seats. Make the schedule like Major League Baseball’s, which focuses on divisional match-ups.

It would increase the magnitude of games within the Eastern and Western Conferences and put a novelty on games outside the conference. Fans would be climbing over one another for tickets, which would allow you to jack up your prices a little and make about the same amount of money.

International play = bad

David, you have an obsession with going global. You heavily promote the idea of your players competing in the International Basketball Federation during the offseason. Did you hear that, Dave? OFFSEASON. This quest for more money is wearing on the players.

Take Pau Gasol, starting center of the Memphis Grizzlies. Gasol helped lead Spain, his native country, to the FIBA world championship game prior to the start of the 2006-07 NBA season. In doing so, he partially fractured his left foot. After three months of recovery, Gasol returned, but it was too late for the Grizzlies. Memphis was already mired in last-place in the Southwest Division and head coach Mike Fratello was dismissed. A season of postseason promise had gone up in smoke for the Griz.

The bottom line: Some of the players competing in international competition are simply worn down by the time the next NBA season begins. They are playing regular season ball for about seven months, and possibly two more should their respective team reach the playoffs and continue to advance.

That leaves maybe a month off before it is right back to practicing and competing with the international teams, and before these players know it, training camp with the NBA clubs has begun. It is too much. These men may be amazing athletes, but they are just that: men. Either forget international play or shorten your season. Your grassroots fans, the ones who really matter to your wallet, are suffering.

So, David, the basketball, which is leather again, is in your court. Take my advice. Take a stand. Do some good for your game. Make diehards, like I used to be, just that again, instead of tongue-in-cheek fans. You can thank me later.

Or, just send me some tickets to the Finals.

Mike Ashcraft is the NBA blogger for Contact him at [email protected].