Friday, July 09, 2010

Remaking the NBA

Now that Lebron and his Superfriends have joined the team that used to be known as the Heat, the NBA might as well go all the way and re-organize. Specifically, the NBA should divide itself into two leagues and follow the soccer example of relegating the worst teams from the top tier league and promoting the best from the bottom tier.

Dividing the league up is pretty easy.

The NBA should set up an "A" Divison that includes all playoff teams with a slight adjustment for Western Conference superiority. Current teams from the Western Conference would be the Lakers, Nuggets, Mavs, Jazz, Blazers, Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, and Memphis Grizzlies. Representatives from the East would include the Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic, Cleveland Cavaliers, Atlanta Hawks, Miami Heat, and Milwaukee Bucks. The Charlotte Bobcats and Chicago Bulls of the Eastern Conference made the playoffs, but the Rockets or the Grizzlies. So, it's Rockets and Grizzlies in "A" Division, Bobcats and Bulls in "B" division.

The key to the "A" division is that it would have teams with the managerial acumen and financial muscle needed to be competitive with the Lakers, Celtics, and Heat/Superfriends. The only teams that have questionable management/coaching in this whole group are the Atlanta Hawks and they've been pretty successful building through the draft. Now that the Heat have upped the ante, one would expect other well-managed teams to develop counter-strategies to Lebron and his Superfriends. The Lakers are already well-positioned because they have Kobe Bryant, Paul Gasol, Andrew Bynum, and Lamar Odom. The Celtics might have enough left in their tank for another run as well. Most of the other teams from the West are capable of stepping it up as well. If not, the bottom two get relegated every year.

The "B" division would be the "Can't Keep Up" League--a major league entity that would be less major than the "A" division. Through a combination of struggling ownership, dim-witted management, poor draft decisions, lousy free agent decisions, bad luck, or all of the above, these teams have fallen behind the rest of the league and fell further behind when Lebron and his Superfriends signed with Miami. In the East, that means the Bobcats, Bulls, Toronto Raptors, Philadelphia 76'ers, New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets, Indiana Pacers, Washington Wizards, and Detroit Pistons. For the West, it's the Golden State Warriors, LA Clippers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Sacromento Kings, and New Orleans Hornets.

Of course, all of these teams aren't the same. The Bobcats and Bulls are already primed to challenge for advancement, but the Warriors, Wizards, T-Wolves, Nets, and Knicks are all dead end organizations that rely heavily on sports socialism to maintain their franchises at all. They shouldn't be playing the Lakers or the Superfriends any more than the Pirates should be playing the Yankees. The Sixers and Pacers look like they're sinking toward dead-end status as well. To the contrary, the Kings, Clippers, Hornets, Pistons, and Raptors all have some of the pieces and could challenge for advancement if everything falls into place.

One question that could be asked about this way of looking at the NBA is whether the weakest teams would still draft first. Personally, I think not. It would be better to eliminate the draft altogether and let the basketball talent be distributed over some other principles of distribution. Given that there is no apparent benefit to having an organization like the Wizards draft first, it might be that the best bet is to give the Lakers and the Heat first crack at the best talent.

Need to keep thinking about that.

The First Step in Dealing with the Tea-Party Crowd

Former Bush spechwriter Michael Gerson emphasizes that the right-wing extremism of Sharon Angle, Rand Paul, and Glenn Beck "are not merely excesses; they are arguments."

Of course, what Gerson wants is the Republican leadership to develop counter-arguments before the whole GOP is defined by the worst aspects of the Tea Party movement.

It's probably too late for the GOP. The party of Dick Cheney, Tom DeLay, and Dick Armey was never that far from the Tea Party movement to start with.

And it isn't like Glenn Beck came from nowhere either.

Still, the Democrats can learn something from Gerson here. Instead of mocking the Tea Party people as extremists, racists, hypocrites, and an on-going freak show, the Democrats should focus on developing counter-arguments to Tea Party claims.

By taking the Tea Party people seriously, we can hit them at their weakest point.