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There’s too great a disparity in NBA conferences

Casper's Corner
Jeff Caspersen
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

The Denver Nuggets and Golden State Warriors are both parked well above .500 as far as winning percentage goes, and each are nearing the 40-win mark with well over a month remaining in the NBA season.

Surely, both appear capable of winning 50 games, widely considered the pro basketball benchmark for an excellent season.

So both clubs will be no doubt still be around come playoff time, right?



Think again.

With disparity between the Western and Eastern conferences at perhaps an all-time high, it’s growing more and more likely that a 50-win team might sit the playoffs.



And what a travesty that would be.

Sure, with talent bursting at the seams, the Nuggets should probably be a little better than their 35-24 record. But that 35-24 record should have them slotted higher than ninth place in the Western Conference.

At 36-22, the Warriors are in eighth place and, if the season ended today, would nab the West’s final playoff spot.

Now look at the East. Through Sunday, the New Jersey Nets sit in eighth place at a whopping 26-33. That’s right. They’re seven games under .500 and are a full game and a half up on the ninth-place team.

That’s just sad and, quite frankly, shouldn’t be allowed to happen as much. If you’re listening, David Stern, I have a solution. Well, an idea or two, anyway.

The English Premier League ” that’s soccer (er, football), folks ” runs with a system of promotion and relegation in shaping its league.

Teams are rewarded with promotion to upper-tier divisions for performing well and relegated to lower-tier divisions for being among the league’s worst squads.

Now, I’m not sure that’d work so well in the NBA, but why not scrap the regional conference makeup and realign teams in a balanced fashion on a yearly basis?

Instead of an East and West, you’d have a, say, American and National League/Conference, a la baseball. Based on each of the NBA’s 30 teams’ previous-season performance, 15 would be assigned to each conference in a balanced fashion ” with an equal number of bad and good teams.

Once the conferences are set, then region-based divisions could be slotted.

Sure, that might complicate travel depending on who ends up where, but the NBA’s players play basketball for a living and play an average of every three days. And think about how much money is tossed around in pro sports as it is.

I, for one, wouldn’t feel sorry for teams opening the travel purse strings a little wider, or that an extra hour or two might be added to flights.

And, on top of eliminating the sickening conference disparity that could relegate a 50-win team to the bench come playoff time, think about the marketing aspect of this whole thing.

Depending on who winds up in what division/conference, you could have elite teams like the Celtics and Lakers clashing three or four times a season instead of twice as they do now.

It’s an ADD world. Why not do a little target marketing?

If nothing else, the table would be set for a more exciting ” and far fairer ” playoff season.

And I don’t see how that could possibly be a bad thing.

Contact Jeff Caspersen: 384-9123

jcaspersen@postindependent.com


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