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Commish For a Day: The Sensible and the Absurd

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If you were commissioner for a day, what would you do?

No more! Send him to the Senior NBA!
No more! Send him to the Senior NBA!

Over the summer, the SB Nation NBA network bands together every week to do "theme days". Basically, all 30 team blogs write about a certain topic, and compare results. This week's topic is, "Commissioner for a Day."

If you were commissioner for a day, what would you do?

This is the question that I asked all the guys and gals that write for Welcome to Loud City. Here's some of the responses they came up with, along with a little bit of my own commentary. The responses are separated into three categories: The Sensible, The Not Sensible, and the Absurd. Sensible ideas are easy and could be implemented immediately. Not Sensible ideas are still good ideas, but they would take a long time to implement and would come with their own share of controversy. Absurd ideas are just silly.

The Sensible:

"Flopping is a huge pet peeve of mine and I'd want the fines for that to be huge so players would stop." -Sarah Rogers

"What if you also count them like techs and after so many you suspend a player for a game?" -Ramona H

This idea is basically an extension of a rule that's already in place. The rule fines players for absolutely blatant flops, and even publicly shames them by putting video up on the net for everybody to see. Sarah and Ramona want to take this a step further, and make it so that flopping is a strict no-no. Not that many flops were called out last year, so I don't think this would effect too many players. Still, it would go a long way to make games more physical and entertaining, because offensive players would get more gutsy, and defensive players would focus on actual defense rather than exploiting the rules.

"I would make a rule that does not allow the NBPA President to be an active player and void his existing contract." -Dara Mirzaie

Obviously, this reasoning has nothing to do with a recent signing of a certain point guard. But seriously, this rule has merit. I would take it even further, mandating that all teams should pick a former roster player to represent them in negotiations. Too often the players are screwed over when negotiating with the owners because of infighting and incompetent management. As long as the players would mandate that the representatives were former players, I think that it would go a long way towards slicing a fair deal and avoiding lockouts.

"You must play college ball for 2 seasons before you enter the draft." -Sarah Rogers

This rule would increase the appeal of college basketball, and decrease the appeal of the D-League. How much you want this to happen depends on your perspective. If you're a huge college basketball fan and want it to have some meaning beyond March Madness, then this rule makes a lot of sense. Or, maybe if you who want the NBA Draft to have more of an immediate impact, this rule makes a lot of sense. But there's also a case to be made against it, since a lot of small market teams depend on D-League development. The rule would also cause a lot of bigger names to head to Europe for a couple of years, so they could grab an immediate paycheck. Personally, I think the college basketball requirement should be abolished altogether, since players should be paid for their talents as soon as possible, but I'll agree to disagree on this one.

"The oldest player on the USA team would be 27. The older guys bring with them experience, but with the injuries, the egos and their age, I don't think they show enthusiasm as say the younger players would. For me, the younger guys would care about winning as a team whereas for example Kobe sees it as another paycheck." -Sarah Rogers

This rule is almost already in place on a defacto basis. LeBron James won't play in the 2014 World Championsip, and other older stars are likely to drop out as well. Putting in a rule would make it more official, but why? Kobe Bryant delivered valuable minutes for the team last year, and if a guy really wants to go for it at an older age, I don't think some rule should be in place to stop him. Still, Sarah's sentiment is in the right place, because we all remember the disastrous early 2000s. Older players would still play like it was an All-Star game and were defeated by inferior teams on four separate occasions.

"Set a mandate that there can be ZERO advertisements on the court itself and on team jerseys. Also, there can be no moving video ads visible on the TV broadcast of the arena." -Me

This might not seem like something that makes sense financially at first. But it accomplishes a lot. First of all, it protects the brand of the team. Teams can get a lot of money for selling jersey or floor space, but fans more passionately identify with teams that don't have a connection to a certain product. They're also more likely to buy jerseys without ads on them. Furthermore, banning ads from the court itself keeps the game much less distracting. Watching European basketball almost overloads your senses sometimes, because there's 3D logos on the freethrow lines, moving video ads in the background, and ads on the jerseys. It's harder for the viewer to pay attention to the game, and makes them more likely to turn off the TV and stop watching. Furthermore, ads on the court are sometimes stickered on, and that could be a potential danger to the players. At the end of the day, if ads become too invasive, the NBA only becomes a feeder for other brands that buy advertising space. It ceases to become a brand itself, and fans are less likely to buy jerseys, tickets, TV packages, and et cetera.

The Not Sensible:

"I would implement a relegation style league and subsequent expansion to make it feasible. It would put an end to tanking in the draft." -William Bennett Berry

I like this idea, because it would eliminate the joke known as college basketball, and it would give fans in places like Bismarck or Cheyenne a reason to cheer. There would also be a great deal of intrigue at the bottom of the standings, and give fans more of a reason to show up. Sadly, this would never happen in reality. TV Deals are a huge part of the NBA's financial structure, and if the South Dakota Mount Rushmores and the Idaho Potatoes were promoted into the NBA while the Lakers and Knicks were relegated, it would represent a tremendous financial hit. It would also be a mess in terms of stadiums, especially when bad former NBA teams are playing in lower leagues and have tons of empty seats. Furthermore, teams from the lower division would find it hard to stay competitive, because bigger teams would have a huge financial edge. The system works in smaller European countries, but I think the scale of the USA is too grand. Alas, for the next few decades, the most we can hope for is a more competitive D-League.

"If a ref or a team of refs are continuing to make bad calls (the number of ball calls would have to be established), a designated head Ref could replace that ref or refs right there in the on-going game with standbys. Horrible refs would be in jeopardy of being suspended for a stretch of games also." -Ramona H

This rule is interesting, but I think that in order to establish it, NBA rules would have to be very clearly defined. As the rulebook stands, the refs are given a pretty wide berth as to what the right call is. Thus, what's perceived as good or bad officiating really depends on who you ask. Personally, I know that different referees call it in different ways, so I'm satisfied as long as the calls are consistent throughout the game. But I really wouldn't mind Ramona's change, because even if it had little effect or was rarely used, it would probably put the minds of a lot of fans at ease. It would also give people grounds to complain when a call wasn't judged correctly.

"Archive all historic games and make them purchasable on an individual basis for private viewing." -Me

This idea would take a lot of work, archiving, and uploading to implement. But, still. Why the heck not? What right does the NBA have to hide all of the games in a vault somewhere? Why are they hiding all of the games in a vault somewhere? Who has the keys to that vault? As it stands, fans can only get current games on TV, and recent games via a League Pass service. Broadcasts of old games on NBATV or ESPN Classic are selective and rare. Even if you wanted to get older games through shady means on the internet, the likelihood that someone has a game that you want on YouTube or a torrenting site is very low.

In fact, just about the only legal way to own a copy of an old game is to have recorded it at the time, find somebody who has an old DVD or VHS of the game and trade with them, or scour your local Goodwill for unmarked VHS tapes and hope they contain come classic sports gold. Really, the NBA is gaining nothing by keeping these games from the general public. Just put them online, let someone purchase a lifetime viewing pass at 3 dollars per game, or pay a subscription, and the NBA has instantly made millions. (By the way, they did something similar with google a few years ago, though I think it was only for the 2007 season.)

"Create a international "champions league" where the four teams that reach the conference finals face various champions from other countries. Give the players and coaches extra incentive to win." -Me

This is a pipe dream of mine that I hope will be accomplished at some point in my lifetime. I know, there's a whole slew of arguments you could make against this. Some might say that NBA players have enough wear on their bodies. Others would call it pointless, because NBA teams are way better than their international counterparts. The above two reasons are valid, but I would argue that the game is becoming more global as time goes on, and this is a perfect way to spark interest in other countries and take steps towards a more competitive atmopshere.

Also, I will note that this has been done before, during a 90's experiment called the McDonald's Championship. The NBA team won every tournament that has ever been held, BUT it did get really close on two occasions. Furthermore, the tournament is returning this year as the Intercontinental Cup. Currently it only features the European and South American champions, but previous reports claimed that the NBA Champion could be invited within a few years. I know that the prospect doesn't sound too exciting to the average NBA fan, but it does give fans worldwide a shot at beating the best of the best. Any YouTube search of the McDonald's Championship will find tons of videos in different languages, all with spirited discussion. After all, your team can't be a world champion until they defeat the world, can they?

The Absurd:

"I would demand that every game JaVale McGee plays in to be on national TV and have a camera crew follow him around 24/7 for a new show on NBA TV." -Craig Brenner

Not much to say about this one, but can Hasheem Thabeet be in it too?

"I would create a Senior NBA. kinda like golf. Once you hit 40 you can no longer play in the Nba and must enter the Senior NBA draft. Imagine watching Bird and Jordan going out it at age 60 in the Senior NBA finals." -Dara Mirzaie

As crazy as it sounds, I really like this idea. I doubt a lot of players would desire to continue the 82 game grind, but I'm willing to bet that a lot of them would like to play in a short league over the Summer. Of course, you'll have to come into it with the knowledge that the game will look rather ugly. Back in the late 80s and early 90s, the NBA held a game called the "Legends Classic" during half-time of the All-Star game. The game was interesting, to say the least, but it got discontinued due to frequent injuries (according to Wikipedia). Nowadays, the closest thing we have are the few legends let into the Celebrity All-Star Game and Haier Shooting Stars challenge. Honestly, it might be better just to contain this kind of thing to All-Star Weekend, but in all seriousness, something similar to the Legends Classic needs to make a comeback.

"Schedule a "late night" game for each team, to be played from Midnight to 2AM local time. During this game, key players would be miced up and encouraged to trash talk. Nothing would be censored." -Me

I know that the NBA is all about being politically correct and maintaining a good public image. But, just for one time a year, I'd love to see a real game. One where we get to see the sheer competitiveness and drive of players in action. I shudder to think of some of the things that Kevin Garnett might say, but it would be really entertaining to watch.

"Mandate that "Roundball Rock" must be played as intro music for all NBA games on national TV." -Me

I really hate the boring music that they play on ABC/ESPN, and the bad licensed music that they play on TNT. Just bring it back to the upbeat classic already, and let me feel the intensity!

Is there anything that you would do if you were commissioner for a day? What do you think of our rule changes? Let us know in the comments!