When ESPN.com’s Zach Lowe reported last month that “two specific proposals are circulating at the highest levels within [NBA] teams and the league office” that would create a play-in tournament to decide the final two playoff teams in each of the NBA’s conferences, the news generated some arched eyebrows and questions over how plausible, effective or even interesting such a tournament would actually be should it ever come to pass. To be clear: Lowe reported that “it would be a shock if the NBA adopted it in time for 2020 or even 2021,” and that “it may never happen” — just that it’s being considered, as the league works toward “reducing the incentive for teams to tank, and maintaining peak fan interest across the full NBA calendar.”
Well, you know who thinks the league should stop considering it? LeBron Raymone James, that’s who.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 21, 2018
“No, no, no,” James said Wednesday. “That’s wack. That’s wack. Why? You got to earn your spot to be in the postseason. No consolation for finishing last. That’s corny. That’s corny. That’s wack. To play for what? What are they playing for?”
James said the eight teams in each conference that have the best record at the end of the 82-game regular season should be guaranteed a playoff spot, without needing any further qualification.
According to Lowe, the lead proposal would include two four-team tournaments featuring the seventh, eighth, ninth, and 10th seeds in the East and West. No. 8 would visit No. 7 for a win-and-you’re in game that slots you in seventh place in your conference. No. 9 would host No. 10, with the winner moving on to play the loser of 7-vs.-8; the winner of that game would be the No. 8 seed. The general idea: give would-be tankers more of an incentive to try until the end of the season, rather than all but giving up the ghost more than a month out, and giving fans in down-the-standings markets more of a reason to tune in during what can be a circling-the-drain period for otherwise uncompetitive squads.
Noble as those goals might be, though, James has established himself as a postseason traditionalist. Call him Old Fashioned, but he seems to think that if you’re going to have a regular season, you might as well make it mean something.
“[Make the playoffs by winning the tournament], even if my record is better than yours?” James said, according to McMenamin. “Nah, that’s wack.”
The question now: does Commissioner Adam Silver want to be about the wackness, or is he more about the dopeness? Inquiring minds want to know.
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