The NBA season has a problem with teams needing to rest players because the wear and tear of the season is too much and it is better for teams, long term, to lose a couple game and keep their best players ready for the post season. This is a problem because the league markets its stars and people are paying more and more money to see them in person.
The best solution to this is to turn the all-star break into a 3 week break with the addition of a Champions Tournament. There would need to be significant prize money and it would need to be incentivized so that winners got paid significantly more, so that everyone plays. I’m talking a prize level like the winners receive an amount equal to their annual salary, runners up get half their annual salary, third and fourth place, one quarter and everyone else one tenth. The all-star break would start with a few days off and then launch into a single elimination tournament with 16 teams. This means the most that would be added would be 4, and the possible reward would be significant.
The tournament, then, would be played out in Las Vegas, taking about 10 days, giving another week long break before the all-star weekend (and during which time the NBA can structure some kind of trade and free-agent frenzy to stay in the news). It becomes a destination event, with fans coming in from all over and players (and coaches) looking to double their annual income.
The teams would be the first 16 selected from a list of the most recent past play-off champions and regular season east and west conference champions. It would suddenly make winning the regular season relevant again. They could then be seeded according to their current regular season standings, making the first half of the season relevant for players also. This also gives fans who have recently experienced glory but whose teams are now in the dumps a chance to revel in the good old days. And NBA TV would be able to program a bunch of ‘looking back’ shows that people love so much.
Just for fun, that means the 2015 tournament would have looked something like this:
- Oklahoma City
Tell me you wouldn’t watch that on TV?