The pandemic has stripped us of our sports. There are far more significant issues at hand, but you're the one that came to a sports radio station's website for reading material. So, I know the information you seek.
Pandemic or not, when are we going to watch sports again? How will it be done? And what will we watch first?
Let's solve some riddles.
It is my opinion that the team sport with the clearest, most effective path toward not only getting back on the pitch but creating something truly memorable, something truly satisfying for its fanbase and potentially beneficial to the strength of the league in the long-term is the MLS. But more on that in another blog.
With this post, the first in a series, I want to map out the NBA's return, which I rank as the league with potentially the second best/easiest plan. As long as they follow my instructions, that is...
1) AUGUST MADNESS?
The basketball fan missed out on March Madness. The basketball fan also missed out on our normal NBA postseason routine. Adam SIlver has a chance to combine them both. He not only has a way to salvage the 2020 NBA season, he can give us something we've never seen before...
March Madness Meets The NBA Playoffs. August Madness! (or August Awesomeness, maybe?)
2) THE FORMAT
If you're going to bring the league and its members out of quarantine, and then send them to Orlando and/or Vegas for Biodome-like living (more on that in a moment) then you have to make it worth everyone's while. Therefore we pick up the action in the regular season. Five tune up games per team, games held round the clock, televised on various networks, each team trying to improve playoff positioning.
Notice I said EACH team. Cuz in this format, EVERYONE makes the playoffs. A 30-team NCAA tournament-like format complete with winners and losers brackets. Top 2 teams (Milwaukee and the Lakers) getting first round byes. Win and advance. Best 2 of 3 for the first 2 rounds, building up to Best of 5 and eventually Best of 7 to decide a champion--BOTH in the winner's and loser's brackets.
3. LOSER BRACKET
Lose in round one and embark upon a never before tried path. A brand new tournament. No, you can not circle your way back toward the title. That's for winners. But! You will fight for more than a mere consolation prize--like some tired gaudy trophy or dinner for 15 at Bennigan's. Nope, the winner of the Loser's Bracket earns the #1 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft.
Enough with the lottery already; we don't trust it anyway. And frankly, enough with rewarding organizations for being horrible, and for losing on purpose. Give the top pick to someone who actually earns it.
4. SIN CITY & THE MAGICAL KINGDOM. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
If these are to be the locations for our tournament, and I love that they might be. Well, let's create some magic and some sin. Teams eliminated from the Winner's Bracket Tournament can be entered into some fan-friendly cash contests. How about another dunk contest for cash? A 3-point contest? A combined Dunk & 3-point contest. If players are going to give up their lives to enter a basketball quarantine, then let's make the most out of it. Give the fans a little bit more for all that has been stripped of them. And in the process, win a little cash for yourself or maybe some free poker chips or rides at the theme park.
5. BIODOME LIVING
Sorry wives, children, extended friends and family, but Daddy is going to be gone for a while. And where he's going you're not allowed to follow.
I get that MLB players are resistant to conducting their entire season away from family and loved ones, but to conduct a NBA playoff--without the need for travel chipping away at time and energy--you'd probably require six weeks. That's six weeks of controlled living inside an Olympic Village of sorts in Vegas and/or Orlando, where confined hotel space exists in surplus. Think of the number of tests we can save for the general public. Players, coaches, staff members, caterers, cleaning crews, tv crews and select media, etc, they all report for their biodome-like stay. All get tested upon arrival. All get tested upon their exit. Daily temperature checks in the interim. Tests on hand for anyone exhibiting symptoms. But in this controlled, no-outsiders-may-enter, no-insiders-may-leave community, the league should be able to provide a safe haven from the virus.
And if you're a player that doesn't deem playing worth the risk, then don't report. But if you do report, know what you're accepting. Cause once you leave Disney's Bio Dome, there's not getting back in.
Just imagine it. Non-stop basketball for six weeks on four different networks. Charles, Ernie, Shaq and Kenny back in our lives. A champion crowned (without asterisk). A lottery winner earned for the first time in league history. And side attractions that will astound the senses. I mean, what are we waiting for?