This past Sunday morning English Premier League soccer captured our attention as Manchester City scored two goals in extra time to beat Queens Park Rangers and win the championship. QPR was possibly playing for their Premiership lives. Had they lost and Bolton won they would have been relegated to the second division.
In case you don’t know, and judging by some twitter inquiries I received, a lot of people didn’t know, the bottom three teams from a higher division go to a lower division. This is relegation. The top three teams from the lower division replace them. This happens through most of Europe. Many countries also have more than two divisions or leagues so the system goes on from top to bottom.
I would love to do this with the NBA.
Right now there are 30 teams in the NBA. I would add 10 teams and create a first and second division. There are more than 10 cities who have pro teams in other sports that might support a team, like San Diego, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Kansas City, St. Louis, Montreal, Vancouver, San Francisco, and Cincinnati. Las Vegas would be a natural. Sleeper cities like Albuquerque, Little Rock, Louisville, Omaha, or Boise might be able to support a team, also. Who would have thought Oklahoma City would be one of the league’s best cities? It doesn’t really matter, I’m just dreaming in case there is a constitutional amendment to add a sports czar and I somehow get named to the position.
The top division would be a simple 20 team league, no conferences. They would play a balanced schedule, each team playing every other team 4 times, 2 home, 2 away. That would be a 76 game schedule. Which would be slightly less than now, but each team would be guaranteed at least 2 home playoff games. The top 16 teams would be seeded 1 through 16 for a championship playoff similar to what we have now.
Here’s where the fun begins. The bottom 4 teams would have their own tourney. Seventeen would play 20, 18 would play 19. Winners play each other. The winner of the tourney gets to stay in the top division, the other three go down. While the first two rounds of the championship tourney was going on, the survival tourney would be played as well. These games would be much more competitive and intense than teams playing for a chance at a championship. Viewership and attendance would reflect that. That means more revenue.
In the lower division, the top two regular season teams would automatically qualify to go up. The next eight would have their own tournament with the winner joining the top two teams in being promoted. I would have the second division end earlier than the top division so these playoffs could culminate just as the first division playoffs began. Attendance and television ratings would be much higher than a Sacramento-Charlotte game in late March.
For the draft:
a) I would give the number one choice to the upper division team that wins the tourney and stays up
b) The second and third picks go to the teams from the lower division that move up via regular season record
c) The fourth pick goes to the lower division team that won the tourney to move up
d) The first division teams would get picks 5-20 based on the reverse order of their regular season finish
e) Have a 20 year old minimum for the upper division, but no age limit for the lower division. That would enable the lower division teams to have first crack at players who wanted to skip college and go to the NBA right out of high school.
To add another twist I would have more skin in the game for players, more of an incentive to win. I would make salaries a percentage of the cap, not a hard number, with the upper division teams having a higher salary cap. Your motivation would be to play on a winning team and stay in the upper division, thus increasing your salary. You might be willing to sacrifice some personal stats for the benefit of the team if you saw an immediate impact on your paycheck. Also, if you were on a team that was being sent down, you would be forced to play in the lower division for a full year rather than being able to sign with one of the first division teams. So key players couldn’t tank to sign with an upper division team. The regular season would take on much more importance. The motivation would properly be placed on winning, not stats.
So much of the NBA season now is unwatchable. Teams like Charlotte, Sacramento, New Orleans, Golden State, Washington, Minnesota, etc. had nothing to play for after a month or so into the season. The fans quit going to the games because they were meaningless. The players knew most of those coaches wouldn’t be there the next season, so they probably didn’t put out a full effort. Meanwhile most of those players won’t be affected in their wallets at all.
Under my proposal most of the teams who now are involved in the most meaningless games would be in the games that meant the most to them personally. Right now there is a lot of ambivalence on the part of fans whose teams can’t win a championship. Those same fans would be extremely passionate for their borderline teams to either stay in the first division or move up.
Tell me this plan isn’t so much better than the crap they’re feeding us now.
Chris Andrews - Nevada Bookmaker for 30 years!Writing Exclusively for Pregame.comFollow on Twitter: @AndrewsSports
I think they should raise the rim a foot or 2....they make it look too easy to stuff it....sick of seeing highlights of 6'8" players, being proud to stuff it....so what!