By JP Graham | Reporter
If you have ever met someone that plans their day around a sporting event or sneaks a glance at their phone to check the score of a game at the dinner table, you know someone like me. While the National Football League and Major League Baseball take precedent for most of the sports fans I know, my first stop in checking scores is the National Basketball Association.
A frequent response I get to sharing this unpopular opinion is that the NBA doesn’t get interesting until the playoffs start. With certain teams resting star players periodically throughout the season in preparation for the playoffs, I can see where the occasional NBA-viewer can get frustrated. But regardless of one’s personal opinions on the games themselves, it is clear the NBA is the most progressive and responsive sports organization around today.
Each sports organization faces different challenges than the rest, but the NBA has proven to be the most intentional in resolving these challenges.
For example, the NFL just finished one of the most controversial seasons in recent history with the National Anthem protests. On top of responses nationwide that range from the president of the United States to sponsors of the league to white supremacy groups, even I felt a sigh of relief that the season was over.
In the MLB, the New York Yankees don’t allow their players to have facial hair, while the Atlanta Braves had an issue with the way that top-prospect Robert Acuna wore his hat in spring training interviews, sitting further back on his head to accommodate his hair.
Braves hitting coach Andruw Jones shared that in the MLB, “[Being] cocky is a good thing. But respecting the game is also very important,” according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com.
With respect to the NBA, reoccurring issues around the playoff format and All-Star Game gained enough attention to bring up changes this year. Instead of having the teams divided by conference, the two players with the most All-Star votes picked teams “pick-up style,” alternating picks from the entire pool of All-Stars.
In terms of the playoff format, NBA commissioner Adam Silver is looking into changing the current system of two conferences with the top eight teams from each. The Eastern Conference has been weaker than the Western Conference in recent years, and Silver likes the idea of having one, 16 team bracket with the seeding based on record to help even out the playing field, per .
The NBA is the only professional league in the world that is not allowed to draft players out of high school, which was a rule that was incorporated in 2005. With current NCAA and FBI investigations into universities across the country paying players to attend their school, Silver has been forced to look into alternate avenues for bringing players into the NBA.
Silver wants to develop the G League, the minor league basketball organization to the NBA, as an alternative to players going to college and an opportunity to “get paid” immediately and eliminating the one and done rule, which he discussed in his NBA All-Star Weekend press conference.
Lastly, the NBA has done the best job in giving athletes platforms to address meaningful topics. In 2014, players across the league wore “I Can’t Breathe” warm-up shirts in reference to the last words spoken by Eric Garner before being choked to death by a police officer, per Nolan Feeney of TIME Magazine.
This past February, Fox News host Laura Ingraham responded to a video of LeBron James criticizing President Trump by said he needs to “shut up and dribble.” Not only was the public response overwhelming in support of James, Kobe Bryant was even able to show his support as well through his acceptance speech at the Oscars last Sunday for winning in the animated short category with “Dear Basketball.”
You may not enjoy every game of the season as myself and other avid basketball fans do, but it is hard to not respect the effort that is being put forth to offer a better entertainment product for consumers. While the NFL seems to be discussing problems, the NBA is finding solutions.