NBA commissioner Adam Silver

Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports

Bernstein: Bring On More NBA Prizes

Having studied European soccer, the NBA is considering adding more competition.

Dan Bernstein
May 29, 2019 - 1:47 pm
Categories: 

(670 The Score) NBA commissioner Adam Silver is floating a trial balloon, and it's no small one.

As reported in detail by Marc Stein of the New York Times, Silver is studying "fairly intensely" the possibility of introducing another championship to be won beyond the one in June, inspired by the calendar of the English Premier League that has multiple major trophies at stake.

This idea of a second "cup" is described by Silver as being "in the conceptual phase" at this point, and it could take the shape of either some kind of midseason tournament in lieu of a traditional All-Star weekend or a playoff play-in affair at the conclusion of the regular season that would allow more teams postseason access and, presumably, greater incentive to remain competitive rather than tank for lottery percentage.

"Change is inevitable," Silver told the Times, while still emphasizing that these are just the first stages of an exploratory process, well before the players' union has even been contacted. 

But there's discernible energy in how Silver is discussing the plans, and the fact that an interview this detailed was granted to the paper of record in the league office's home is significant. Silver is putting this out there for a reason.

I'm all for it. There's no downside. In fact, here's to even more creativity.

The title will still be the title, easily the truest one of all the major sports in representing the best team in a given season, almost certainly led by at least one all-time great player. That isn't going to change.

Intrigue surrounding a collegiate, knockout-style play-in would undoubtedly drive television ratings, but it still wouldn't change the sense of inevitability that the same few teams would actually be contending, no matter the increased number of teams with a slim chance at a run: Cinderella just can't happen in that many best-of-sevens.

I'm more partial to a freestanding tournament instead of the old and busted All-Star format, which -- if we're being honest -- has been wheezing already for some time. It's still a valuable promotional tool for the league and now a cultural and fashion happening, but we don't care about any of the outcomes of the various contests or the game itself. There was a time years ago when it felt exotic to have so many star players together on the same floor, but that novelty has dissipated entirely into a yawn.

So incentivize the players with big bags of cash from sponsors and TV networks and have at it to chase something new, in freewheeling single-elimination style. Just because it's less important than later series in June doesn't mean it wouldn't be a helluva lot of fun, with the eyes of the world on it from whatever device. Put the semifinals and finals of this concurrent event on the same weekend to replace the usual All-Star circus, and we're all in. You could even still do skills competitions and rookie showcases if you wanted.

I'm ignoring the inevitable and lame "participation trophy" references in the ensuing discussion and those who insist this would water down the value of the NBA championship or represent some softening of larger societal values. That's garbage.

We all have enough bandwith as fans to know what matters and how, and we can enjoy something new for whatever it may become.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show in middays. You can follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.​​​​

Tags: