For decades, the NBA has been one of America’s powerhouse sports leagues, producing some of the biggest names in sports history. Players such as Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan were able to get the professional league on the map and pave the way for future stars. Many fans consider the 1980s and 90s the “golden age” of the NBA. Even though players today are much more talented, the players of the 80s played with heart and fundamentals of basketball.
But today, the NBA regular season has experienced a lot more criticism than the years past. Many say that the modern day NBA stars have lost all integrity for the game in the regular season, and are just waiting for the playoffs. Others say that the players are just playing for the money, and do not bring a lot of passion to the game in the regular season.
When discussing the topic, many analysts have blamed the recent addition of the NBA play-in tournament, and the NBA playoff seedings in general. During the play-in, the seventh and eighth seed play one game and the winner gets in the playoffs. The loser of this game plays the winner of a game between the ninth and tenth seed, in which the winner of that game claims the eighth and last spot in the playoffs. Ten out of the fifteen teams in a conference have a chance to make the playoffs, compared to only the eight times that could make it prior. The criticism comes from the fact that it is simply too easy for teams to make the playoffs with the play-in, so teams are not so worried about their seeding in the regular season. Senior Vichu Selvaraju, “it’s a great way to keep hype up for the playoffs and give teams an opportunity to enter the playoffs”.
Another critical point to bring up is quite simply that the NBA season is a long season, and individual games do not matter as much until later in the season. To compare two popular sports, everybody speaks so much higher of the NFL regular season because every single game matters for a team’s season. An NBA team plays 82 games a season while an NFL team plays 17. So, an NBA team plays 4.8 games for every one game an NFL team plays. Since five NBA games are an NFL game, it would make sense that players are not worried about one regular season game in October as much as they would be in a game seven playoff game.
This is unattractive to fans because viewers want to be watching games with high stakes and high intensity, which most of the NBA regular season does not bring.
Senior Sid Pamulapati said, “I watch the good games that are on TV from time to time. I also watch the second half of the Knicks games when I can because I am a fan.”
Since the season is so long and it is possible to make the playoffs as a tenth seed, players are far more concerned about their long term health in today’s game. Because of this, star players may sit out due to minor injuries in regular season games that they may play through in the playoffs. Instead of making an injury worse over one mid-season game, a player could heal back to 100 percent and remain healthy. The downside is that star players are not playing as much in the regular season which obviously makes the game less entertaining.
Since a lot of players are sitting out for minor injuries, fans, especially older ones, tend to label those star players as “divas” because they care more about the money they are making than actually playing.
Senior Ryan Monaco says, “I think that players do not care about winning in the regular season and players take too much time off in the regular season, and they would much rather make the money than win.”
Although today’s NBA season has not been as popular as other sports, it is still good basketball that any fan of the sport would enjoy. The NBA is still the highest level of basketball talent in the world no matter who is playing. Contrary to popular belief, if you watch a game, you would see that players put in a lot of effort and actually do play defense. And with the playoffs starting soon, the regular season sure is heating up.