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Shane Battier Offers Up Some Ideas On How To Improve The NBA


Shane Battier’s basketball I.Q. is well-documented. He’s often referenced as an example of someone who’s figured out how to have a long, successful NBA career without being a one-of-a-kind physical specimen. He studies his opponents’ micro-tendencies, situational statistical likelihoods, and prepares for every game hours before hand — the same way, every night, without fail. He also attended Duke University where he was a two-time Academic All-American.

Ya, he’s a smart dude.

So when it comes to troubleshooting the status quo of the National Basketball Association, he’s the first person to turn to. ESPN’s Truehoop TV did just that — and Battier was not shy about how he’d fix a league that could allow five teams make the playoffs from the Eastern Conference with losing records this season.

1) Eliminate divisions. That means the top 16 teams make the playoffs, plain and simple. Citing the English Premier League, Battier claims that divisions water down the postseason and devalue winning an NBA Championship. We agree.

2) Eliminate the instant replay. Human error is a part of the game, and with the expansion of instant replay, the game becomes slow and boring. (Or just add a fourth official who corrects calls quickly and remotely.) Also, pay him $25,000 a year (millionaires love saving cash). That part was weird. We’re not sure eliminating instant replay makes as much sense as fixing the logistics of instant replay. We disagree.

3) Allow advertisements on jerseys. The sport is a business, first and foremost, and it’s only a matter of time before “Oracle” or “Ford” sponsor the Warriors or Pistons. He says get used to it. We say get used to instant replay (we also hate the idea of ads on jerseys).

4) Tanking isn’t inherently a bad thing (he actually calls it “win/loss manipulation”). Battier says that depending on what the league’s goal is, tanking could actually be a good thing. If the object is to provide the best possible product every night — then tanking is bad (because the games are less exciting). If the goal is to win championships — then tanking is good (because you’ll only get better through the draft). If David Stern’s objective is for the league to make the most money possible — then tanking is a combination of bad and good, because a bad team will improve and rejuvenate it’s fan base with a younger, more talented roster, via sucking.

That last one isn’t much of a solution as it is an explanation of how to approach the problem of tanking. We think the league should fully adopt the European soccer model, and relegate teams who finish with the three worst records in the league. Those teams should have to play D-League opponents until they’re good enough to play with the big boys again (and be promoted by finishing in the top three of the D-League). It’s both a financial incentive to win (you lose money if you have to play in a small gym in North Dakota instead of Chicago) and a way to keep your season competitive even if your team isn’t going to make the playoffs (a race to the finish to stay in the NBA).

What are your thoughts on tanking? How would you fix it? Sound off below…


  • Jake

    The NBA would never want the D-League to be a larger part of its brand because the market would become over-inflated with smaller markets fighting for larger players. There isn’t enough talent to go around. Sure, the idea sounds splendid, but Battier and this author are living in a fantasy world. At the same time, tanking is inherently bad. It’s hard to make an argument that it’s good. Even if a bad team finds talent, there will be a handful of other teams that will lose talent and fill that void. Sure, Battier may be smart, but this just isn’t going to get us anywhere. Owners would never approve a system in which the league doesn’t have divisions because that would make it HARDER for most teams to make it to the playoffs. The NBA is a business, and as dreamy as a simplistic, exciting league sounds, it’s just not a realistically viable in the competitive market that has already been established.

  • Jake O’Donnell

    Totally agree none of this will happen.


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