I already love the new NBA commissioner more than the old one.
David Stern saved the NBA just as much as Magic and Larry did. He can never be underestimated for what he did for the game. Unfortunately for all basketball fans, Stern's ego was out of control over the last 10 years and he was no longer good for the game.
We've been in the Adam Silver era for two months now. We rarely hear from Adam Silver. Amazingly, Adam Silver doesn't appear to believe the league is about him. He doesn't possess the self-righteousness of a man who saved a league and thinks he's owed something for it.
It's time for Adam Silver to put his stamp on the league. He needs to do something that's good for the game and ignore the TV networks. Make basketball better even if it makes the New York Knicks even less relevant.
ELIMINATE THE EASTERN CONFERENCE.
OK, I don't really mean throw away 16 teams east of the Mississippi. It's time to revamp the playoffs. Take the top 16 teams in the NBA and put them in the playoffs. Leave the other 14 at home. The networks will go crazy. It scares them to death to lose out on a chance the Knicks or 76ers are ever an eight-seed again.
Mr. Silver, your league is better than that. Of course it's not the NFL where a Tennessee and a Green Bay could meet in a Super Bowl and put up a monster number, but you have stars. People will watch the NBA if the league provides a good product. No matter how big the market is, Atlanta at Miami is not a good product. Seed the teams 1-16 and let's play it out.
Need to be sold on how bad the East is?
It's been nearly 10 years since an Eastern Conference No. 8 seed played 82 games and finished above .500. In 2005, the New Jersey Nets were the 8-seed with a 42-40 record.
From 2003 to 2014 (although the year is not over), every 82-game season had a Western Conference team miss the playoffs that would have earned a bid in the East because their record was better than the No. 8 seed in the East. To further the point, twice an "11-seed" in the West was better than the 8 in the East (this year the 11 is 1.5 games back of the 8) and in 2004, the "12-seed" in the West would have made the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The biggest kicker: the Eastern Conference 8-seed has never had a better record than the Western Conference 8-seed this century.
This will be the 15th straight June where a majority of Eastern Conference teams will draft ahead of Western Conference teams, yet the East still hasn't closed the gap. The Atlanta Hawks should not be rewarded for their geography. Fans should be rewarded with better basketball.
As this is written, Minnesota is 7.5 games out of the playoffs. They're only one-half game behind Charlotte for what should be the 16-seed. Minnesota is hopelessly out of the playoffs being in 10th place in the West, but they're four games better than Atlanta and six games above New York. The Wolves play a majority of their games in the West so their schedule is tougher, yet they've got more wins. The league can't justify putting the Hawks in and leaving the Wolves out.
If you're not sold, check out how much better the first round would be:
#16) Charlotte vs. #1) San Antonio
#15) Washington vs. #2) Oklahoma City
#14) Brooklyn vs. #3) LA Clippers
#13) Chicago vs. #4) Miami
#12) Toronto vs. #5) Indiana
#11) Memphis vs. #6) Houston
#10) Phoenix vs. #7) Portland
#9) Dallas vs. #8) Golden State
Did you notice that Miami is only a 4-seed? They'd have to play Tom Thibodeau and the Bulls before hitting Indy in the second round. A huge series against San Antonio is just the semifinals.
I'm certainly not rooting for the Spurs, but the best team in basketball should be playing Charlotte in the first round. The fourth-best Miami Heat shouldn't get that "honor."
Congrats on your 1-seed in the West, Pops! Now you get Dirk Nowitzki, the athletic Suns or Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph as your opponent.
That's not a true 1-seed. Playing Charlotte is.
There's been a growing contingent calling for a 16-team tournament. It would take a terribly secure and strong leader to stand up and do what's right for the game and its fans. Prove yourself worthy to take that stand, Mr. Silver.
It's not a revolutionary idea, Commissioner. It's the logical one.