Welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Five! This is a feature that I post every Friday in which I give my thoughts on a topic that’s related to basketball video games, the real NBA or another area of interest to our community, either as a list of five items or in the form of a Top 5 countdown.
More often than not, I’m writing about basketball video games in the Friday Five, which only stands to reason; the NLSC is a website dedicated to basketball gaming, after all. However, I like to write about the real NBA as well, and I haven’t done that for a few weeks now. As such, I figured it was about time for another NBA related article.
For this week’s Five, I’ve decided to take five topics related to the NBA that I’ve been thinking about recently, and pose them as questions. For each question, I’ve provided a short answer, along with a few of my thoughts on the matter. So, without any further ado, here are My Answers to 5 NBA Questions.
1. Should fans stop using “We” when referring to their favourite team?
My answer: No. It’s kind of silly, but…no.
This one applies to team sports in general, but this is a basketball gaming website and we’re basketball fans, so I’ll count it as an NBA question. I’m sure that most of you are familiar with this verbal tic that afflicts sports fans everywhere: the tendency to use words like “We” and “Us” when talking about one’s favourite team. “So and so is hurting us with his turnovers”, “We’ll get ‘em next time”, “We’re the champions”, and so on.
People who are especially annoyed by it will be moved to post scathing responses on message boards and in comment threads (“I didn’t know you played for them”, or perhaps “What, you’re the coach/general manager now?”). I understand the annoyance, of course; it’s kind of an obsessive way to refer to your favourite team, not to mention terminology that’s usually favoured by the most obnoxious members of a fanbase. It’s a pet peeve for a lot of people, but to be honest, the fact that it’s a pet peeve has become something of a pet peeve of mine.
Fans may not be a part of a team in any official capacity, but the relationship between NBA teams and their fanbases does invite “We” familiarity. There’s a sense of community and belonging, even if you’re not on the payroll. Yes, the “We” and “Us” stuff gets a bit obnoxious, but so do the people who want to feel smart by sneering at it. At the end of the day, it’s harmless shorthand amongst fans that are reacting to something involving their favourite team.
2. Should Cavs fans (and everyone else, for that matter) get over The Decision?
My answer: Yes…but…
The way that LeBron James handled his departure from the Cleveland Cavaliers rubbed a lot of people the wrong way – Cavs fans most of all, obviously – and it drew a lot of very valid criticism. Still, it’s been almost four years since The Decision and while LeBron could’ve handled the situation a lot better, he made a choice that he was fully entitled to make and frankly, what’s done is done. You can’t keep beating that dead horse so many years after the fact.
That said…anyone’s free to dislike the guy. I mean, intense hatred for someone you don’t know personally is a step too far, but you can certainly dislike the way he carries himself, be critical of some of the things he does as an NBA player, and refuse to cheer for him. If you’re a Cavaliers fan, then you’re definitely entitled to boo him at the Quicken Loans Arena and cheer against him, the same way you would with any team or player that becomes a notable rival. You’re passionate about your team like any other fan, so there’s no obligation to give him a warm reception.
After all, if it’s all fine and dandy for Raptors fans to boo Vince Carter in Toronto ten years after his departure, Cavs fans can stay mad at LeBron for a little while longer yet. Of course, even if you don’t much care for LeBron, it would be ridiculous to deny his greatness as a basketball player. You may dislike his character and some of his actions, but one has to respect his game and his accomplishments.
3. Should we all get over the Supersonics becoming the Thunder?
My answer: Same as above.
To me, the answer to this question is closely linked to the previous issue. You can’t fairly say that everyone who dislikes LeBron James needs to get over it, yet at the same time hold a burning, perpetual grudge over the Seattle Supersonics becoming the Oklahoma City Thunder. Granted, there are some key differences between the two issues, but it still comes down to holding a grudge and making things personal.
Perhaps some fans are more sympathetic towards LeBron as players are often treated like commodities, and as I mentioned above, he made a decision that he was entitled to make. Technically speaking, Clay Bennett and the Thunder’s ownership were entitled to their decision as well, but it’s fair to say that they didn’t act in good faith and David Stern didn’t handle the situation particularly well either. In any event, you can criticise the league and the team’s ownership, but the desire to see the Thunder fail – a desire that particularly outraged fans have not been shy in expressing – unfairly victimises hardworking and talented people who had no say in the move: the players and the coaching staff, who have shown more class than the people signing their cheques.
Bottom line: when it comes to issues like these, our point of view boils down to how strongly we feel about them…and, how personally affected. If the issue particularly bothers us, complaints from our fellow fans will come across as righteous outrage. If we don’t particularly care, we categorise the complainers as whiners and declare that they need to get over it. Fairness and truth probably lie somewhere in between; there are several legitimate complaints when it comes to these issues, but some people are far too whiny about them.
4. Should the NBA change the format of the Draft Lottery & Playoffs?
My answer: No.
I’ve decided to talk about these two issues together, partly so that I can squeeze in an extra question, but also because my answer and reasoning is the same for each of them. Basically, I don’t think either system is as broken as they’re often made out to be.
Yes, the idea of rewarding a team for losing as much as possible does seem a little backwards (at least when you put it like that). However, there’s a rather fine prize for winning as much as possible: it’s called the Larry O’Brien trophy. I still think the issue of tanking is somewhat overblown and I believe that it’s perfectly above board for a team that’s going nowhere to cut their losses, give up on investments they don’t feel will benefit them in the long term, and start over from scratch. Besides, it’s not as though the team with the worst record always wins the lottery, and there’s yet to be any proven examples of teams intentionally losing games through on-court tactics.
Speaking of the competition for the Larry O’Brien trophy, I feel that the current format for the Playoffs is just fine. In a lopsided season such as the 2014 campaign, with the West being so competitive and the East being particularly weak, it admittedly doesn’t look as good. Still, even with that disparity, 15 of the 16 teams that qualified for the 2014 Playoffs would still be in the postseason if the format changed to the top 16 teams, regardless of Conference. Consider an alternative that’s been proposed: top 16 records in the league, seeding decided by geographic proximity. In other words, basically what we have now. There’s no harm in considering changes to the format of both the Lottery and the Playoffs, but ultimately I think they’re both working out fine and as such, I don’t think that change is urgently required.
5. Should the NBA expand its use of instant replay?
My answer: Yes.
Jeff Van Gundy frequently rails against the use of instant replay during NBA on ESPN broadcasts, and I understand his concerns about it slowing the game down. However, I have to believe that if he ever returns to the sidelines, The Notorious J.V.G. will quickly soften his stance once instant replay rulings begin benefiting his team. Incidentally, if Van Gundy does get an NBA head coaching gig in the near future, his presence alongside Mike Breen will be sorely missed.
The NBA should be careful in its expansion of instant replay usage, remaining mindful of its ability to bring the action to a grinding halt. I don’t think there’s any disputing its benefits to the game though, nor the importance of making a correct ruling on difficult calls. I for one would like to see referees be able to make a wider variety of calls upon a review.
For example, if the replay shows that the ball went out of bounds off a certain player, but they were also fouled in the process, then the foul should be called after reviewing the play. That currently isn’t possible and can result in an overturned out of bounds call with someone getting away with a foul, which means there’s still controversy. Adding a fourth official who’s watching the game on a monitor and can make rulings when called upon wouldn’t be a bad idea either.
That’s going to do it for this week. What are your answers to these questions? What are some of the other NBA related questions that you’re pondering? Let me know in the comments below, as I might cover some more questions in a future article. As always, please feel free to take the discussion to the NLSC Forum as well. Thanks for checking in this week, please join me again next Friday for another Five.