Posted on: February 8, 2012 12:37 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 1:21 pm

So what if the NBA play is bad this year?

Turns out people care more about stars than quality of play as league popularity soars. (Getty Images)

By Matt Moore

Oh, the agony.

The torture.

The basketball.

We've become accustomed to a certain level of play in the NBA. What's worse, NBA scribes, bloggers, and hardcore fans are constantly comparing everything to prior moments and finding fault. There were some last year who found the playoffs disappointing because there were no truly great teams. You know, despite it being arguably the most entertaining playoffs of all time. Some would prefer the era of Jordan's dominance, even when that meant that the playoffs were about as unpredictable as a Fresh Prince of Bel Air episode.

The point is, we're ready as fans of the game to find fault with it at every turn. This season? Not hard to locate. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com points out all the agonizing ways this season's play has been reduced to rubble. Shooting percentages are in the basement. Scoring totals are in the basement. It's sloppy. There are injuries. It's gotten so bad that the age-old debate of whether a great college team, in this case, Kentucky, can beat an NBA team missing its best player, in this case, the Raptors without Andrea Bargnani, has returned to haunt us. And we all know it's insane. Size and strength matters, and the kiddos would be beaten to a pulp. What's more, it doesn't take much time to notice the gap between baseline jumpers at the college and pro level.

But the bigger point is that the game has been irreparably harmed. David Stern and his League of Extra-Stingy Gentlemen have forced this 66-game schedule down the fan's throats and the result is that they have turned away fans forever.

One problem.

They haven't.

Attendance is up, considerably. Ratings on TNT for games and NBA on TNT are up double-digit percentage points. NBA TV is through the roof, when for years most people haven't known the channel exists. Teams are raising ticket prices. Fans are paying. The reality is that the game is becoming more popular headed towards its annual zenith of the playoffs. But how can this be, with the play this bad? With turnovers and bad conditioning and injuries and clang after clang after clang?


The hardcore fans are going to watch anyway. And the casual fans, the golden goose for any sports league? They don't care about how the play is.

They care about storylines. LeBron failing in the clutch. Derrick Rose trying to will his way past Miami(and missing free throws in the clutch). Kobe Bryant's last stand. The Celtics trying to prove they're not dead yet. The Orlando drama. The Knicks disaster with Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire. Linsanity. The Denver Nuggets flourishing (until the last six games) without Melo. Lob City. The Mavericks put themselves back on the map. The Chris Paul veto and its various effects. Kyrie Irving. Ricky Rubio.

The 76ers! ... OK, still no one cares about the 76ers, sadly.

The Thunder, destroying everything in their path as the new favorites. Blake Griffin over Perkins.

And again, as always, LeBron.

And what's more, the game is actually pulling in more viewers, even with terrible play. Know why?

No one can hold a lead.

The conditioning and schedule has created absolute chaos in the second half of games. Teams are racing out to 15-20-25 point leads and then blowing them, consistently, because they lack the energy and personnel to keep the foot to the pedal. The Magic blowing a 28-point lead, at home, to the team that has tortured them the past two seasons? Fascinating, like a train wreck. The Heat blowing leads to Golden State and the Clippers on back-to-back nights? Must-watch!

No lead is safe in this new, worse, NBA, and that makes it all the more watchable. It's part, oddly, of what makes college fun. Their players aren't good enough to close the door and so huge leads evaporate. Now the same thing is happening at the NBA level with teams burning themselves out in the first half and then trying desperately just to get back to the hotel and go to bed.

So yeah, the play is terrible. No one can shoot. Everyone's injured. The players are exhausted, already slightly miserable, and unable to give us the grace and precision that makes the NBA the best basketball product in the world.

And people haven't liked it this much in years.

Part of the issue is that there are always injuries. There are always terrible teams. For years we've heard the argument that there are so many bad teams. That's a product of there being great teams. Not everyone's going to go four-games-under-.500 or better. Yeah, the shooting's bad, but no one seems to focus on that when Blake Griffin is dunking the ball down Kendrick Perkins' throat and Monta Ellis is scoring 48 points.

Turns out you can lock out the fans, lock out the players, compact the schedule, shorten the season, torture the percentages, burn out the talent, and still have a product that sells.

Because drama? Drama transcends buckets.
Category: NBA
Posted on: February 1, 2012 12:04 pm
Edited on: February 1, 2012 12:18 pm

New NBA commercials go 'BIG' and are awesome

By Matt Moore

The NBA had a huge amount of success four years ago with the "Where Amazing Happens" commercials. They were dramatic, subtle, and just overall cool. Since then, however, they've struggled with an effective marketing approach for commercials. The big heads series last year comprised a particular disaster. Funny for a second but overall, they fail to excite fans or provide a sense of drama.

But earlier this month, the NBA debuted the following commercial which was much more in line with what the NBA needs to be using as their approach. And I swear, I'm not just saying that because it uses a Primus riff. 


Not bad, right? I pleaded on Twitter for the NBA to make more of these types of commercials. And they listened. OK, that's not true at all, they were doing it anyway, but it makes me feel special. The point is that the newest commercials hit yesterday (via IAmAGM.com) and they're pretty awesome. Here's one on Kevin Durant being a phenom. 

 And a goosebump-causing, chill-creating, downright mystical one on Dirk Nowitzki and rising to the occasion. Suspiciously absent: LeBron James


Now that's more like it.
Posted on: January 15, 2012 6:59 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2012 6:12 am

Paul (hamstring) day to day, MRI results negative

Posted by Eye on Basketball staff

Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul is listed as day to day with a hamstring injury after an MRI Sunday revealed no major results. Officially the injury is being called a strained hamstring.

Paul suffered the injury during the fourth quarter of Saturday's 102-94 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

The injury comes at a particularly inopportune time, with the Clippers embarking on a back-to-back-to-back with games Monday afternoon at New Jersey, Tuesday night at Utah before returning home Wednesday against the Mavericks.

The Clipppers started the season with four point guards: Paul, Chauncey Billups, Mo Williams and Eric Bledsoe. They may be down to only Billups by next week. Williams (foot) sat out Saturday's game and Bledsoe (knee) is still 2-3 weeks away from returning.

Posted on: December 15, 2011 3:42 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2011 4:05 pm

NBA discusses League Pass pricing

By Matt Moore

When the NBA announced its agreement with the players to end the 2011 five-month lockout, talk turned immediately to where things were going forward. How would a 66-game schedule affect teams and players? What about free agency? And hey, when can I order League Pass? The league's television distribution package for out-of-market locally televised games is a staple for hardcore fans and those living in cities away from their teams' broadcasts. 

The league waited quite a while to release the package with many speculating that there would be a significant price drop based on the loss of 16 games per-team due to the lockout-shortened schedule. Instead, earlier this week, the NBA finally launched its website for the 2011-2012 season with a price of $169 for the full television package. 



Cats and dogs, living together, mass hysteria.

But there's more to the package this year than meets the eye, and it's on account of where technology has progressed to in terms of sports media.  Christina Miller, Senior Vice President and General Manager of NBA Digital told CBSSports.com that the package's price was determined based off the decision to combine NBA's television package, along with League Pass Broadband which is available online, and League Pass mobile which streams on ... well, mobile devices. 

"The price this season is $169," Miller says. "Last year was $189, but this year the difference is we've created an all-inclusive package for $169. Any-time anywhere, on any screen, you can get the game on. Last year, mobile would have been a $50 standalone. That puts you at $239 vs. $169."

Miller said the decision to include the products together, while many fans may only use one of the options, was not made based on data indicating a trend in mobile users specifically of league pass, but market trends across NBA digital towards mobile users in particular. 

The $19 price tag represents 89 percent of the cost for 2010-2011, while the season has actually been cut to just 80 percent of the usual 82 games. However, there are mitigating factors like the increased percentage of nationally televised games still available outside of the package. The league is also extending the free period for those who want to judge whether to purchase the package, extending it from the usual week to two weeks.

But the big push here is clearly with regards to the mobile properties with the explosion of tablets and smartphones on the market. 

So if you're someone who travels often or is glued to your mobile phone or tablet, it's probably a great deal, provided you also watch games on your television. NBA League Pass Broadband streaming online will cost $29.95 a month for the discounted option of selecting 5 teams instead of getting all 30. 

There will continue to be questions as to why the league didn't do more to offer a give back after taking away 16 games per team in the lockout, but at least those who do use the service across the board on all three platforms will be given a discount.

Posted on: December 12, 2011 2:40 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 2:50 pm

NBA adds new concussion policy, program

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-concussion

The NBA game might not be as ferocious as the NFL or as bloodthirsty as the NHL, but it's still incredibly physical and head injuries do occur. 

With that in mind, the NBA instituted a new concussion policy to begin the 2011-2012 season, one that includes greater centralization and additional safety checks that must be satisfied before a player returns to the court. Here is a summary of the pertinent details in a release from the NBA.
The National Basketball Association today announced the institution of a concussion management program designed to safeguard the neurological health of NBA players through a comprehensive framework of education, clinical management and data collection and analysis. The program went into effect at the start of training camp.

Among the highlights of the new program:
  • The hiring of Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher as the Director of the NBA Concussion Program. Dr. Kutcher, Associate Professor of Neurology at University of Michigan, is a leading authority in the field of sports neurology and the Chair of the Section of Sports Neurology for the American Academy of Neurology.
  • Providing annual training and education to players, coaches, and team medical personnel, tailored to their specific role and consistent with the evolving science of concussion management.
  • Annual baseline testing of players, including both a neurological exam and a computerized cognitive assessment tool.
  • A customized post-injury concussion assessment tool and multi-stage return to play protocol. In order to maximize the consistency of care throughout the league, all return to play decisions will be discussed with Dr. Kutcher before the player returns to competition.
  • The documentation and aggregation of all data related to a concussion, and its diagnosis, management and outcome.
While concussions aren't the hot button debate topic in professional basketball because there are no quarterbacks taking helmet-to-helmet hits and no forwards taking slashing hockey sticks to the temple, they do occur in the NBA. The relative rarity of concussions actually creates a potentially dangerous climate: When one occurs, players, first responders, coaches and management figures are all less experienced in properly dealing with both the short-term and long-term decisions that need to be made.

By adding Dr. Kutcher -- as both an accessible, experienced expert and as a centralized league-level reviewer of team behavior -- the NBA has seemingly taken an important step to protecting its players. Head injuries are tricky situations. Players feel an immense internal pressure to "shake offf the cobwebs" and help their teams, particularly late in games or down the playoff stretch. By rule, coaches always prefer players that can play to players who can't. Medical staffs are thus stuck in the middle, forced to make split-second decisions that balance the short-term need to win a contest versus the longer-term need to preserve the player's health. A league-level reviewer that oversees a player's "return to play protocol" is just extra insurance against a player pushing too hard to help his team or a coach that might be tempted to look the other way if the player says he is good to go.  

We won't know exactly how this program will play out, unfortunately, until someone goes through the process. But it's good to know it's there, and it's nice to see the league get out in front of a controversial topic with a sensible plan, for a change.

Category: NBA
Tags: Ben Golliver, NBA
Posted on: November 29, 2011 6:44 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2011 6:53 pm

Reports: Players begin vote on union reformation

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

The next major step towards recovering the 2011-2012 NBA season is reportedly under way.

On Nov. 14, the National Basketball Players Association filed a disclaimer of interest, formally disbanding as a union so that the players could file an antitrust lawsuit against the NBA. On Saturday morning, representatives of the NBA and its players reached a tentative agreement to settle the litigation, end the ongoing NBA lockout and salvage a 66-game regular season.

Both sides must formally approve of the deal, though, and there's an extra hurdle on the players' side because of the antitrust lawsuit. To formally approve of the new collective bargaining agreement, the union must re-form and conduct a vote of its members.

SI.com reports on Tuesday that the NBPA "sent out authorization forms to its players requiring signatures to reinstate the union."

NBA.com reported soon after that the voting process to re-form is currently under way. 
NBA players have been mailed cards that will begin the process of re-forming their union, according to a source.

Players must indicate their preference to either re-form the National Basketball Players Association as their representative for collective bargaining purposes, or to reject the re-formation of the union. After they indicate their preference and sign the card, they are to scan the card and e-mail it to a neutral observer from the American Arbitration Association, who is acting as an election monitor and overseeing the process. The original card is to be mailed back to the offices of what was (and will likely be again) the Players Association in New York. A simple majority of voting players, those who return the cards with the "yes" vote, would allow the union to re-form.
Once the union is put back together, the players will then vote to approve the tentative agreement that has been recommended to them by NBPA executive director Billy Hunter. 

In a letter to all players sent on Monday, obtained by SI.com, Hunter wrote: "We support this settlement of the antitrust case. We appreciate your trust and solidarity and look forward to working through the process described above in the very near future so we can get back to doing what we all want to do: play basketball. We expect the authorization, recognition, and negotiation process will wrap up in the next several days so we can present you a new CBA for player ratification."
Posted on: November 28, 2011 5:41 pm
Edited on: November 28, 2011 6:38 pm

Report: NBA schedule to be released next week

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-xmas

The 2011-2012 NBA schedule is expected to begin on Christmas. After that, it's pretty much anybody's guess for now.

The New York Times reported Monday that NBA owners and players will not complete the vote to formally approve the "tentative" collective bargaining agreement that was reached early Saturday morning until "probably next week."

In turn, the Times also reported that the NBA's full 2011-2012 schedule will not be released until "maybe next week."

Some details of the schedule have emerged already.

The NBA announced on Sunday that the league will play a 66-game season, beginning on Dec. 25, 2011 and running through April 26, 2012. The Christmas Day slate is expected to include a triple-header: the Boston Celtics will visit the New York Knicks, the Miami Heat will visit the Dallas Mavericks, and the Chicago Bulls will visit the LOs Angeles Lakers.

Each NBA team will play 48 games in conference and 18 games out of conference, meaning that each team will not visit every opposing team like usual.

At least one, and up to three, sets of back-to-back-to-back games, usually avoided during a standard 82-game schedule, will be played by every team. 

Each NBA team will reportedly also play just two preseason games, a home-and-home series against a single opponent.
Category: NBA
Tags: Ben Golliver, NBA
Posted on: November 23, 2011 1:25 pm
Edited on: November 23, 2011 5:44 pm

Report: NBA, Players reopen labor talks

Posted by Ben Gollivernba-lockout

Someone finally picked up the phone.

After multiple days spent wondering which side would make the first move to reopen ongoing labor negotiations, Yahoo Sports reports that the NBA and its players have reportedly commenced communicating again for the first time in more than a week.
NBA and players resumed talks on Tuesday to try and end the lockout before the cancellation of Christmas games, two sources told Y! Sports. Talks were expected to continue today, sources said, and one league source tells Y!: "We should know more by later this evening." Derek Fisher isn't a part of the talks now, sources say. 
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com has confirmed the talks.

Newsday reported that NBA spokesperson Tim Frank would not confirm or deny that talks were taking place, stating only that the league "remains in favor of a negotiated resolution."

The New York Times reported that a 66-game regular season schedule, with games beginning on Christmas, is still feasible. 

The last talks between the two sides occurred on Nov. 11, when the NBA submitted a proposal to the players that would have allowed for a 72-game season. Since then, talks stalled completely after the players responded to the proposal by disbanding the National Basketball Players Association and filed an antitrust lawsuit against the league. As the NBPA no longer exists, talks between representatives of the NBA and its players are now an antitrust lawsuit settlement discussion rather than collective bargaining negotiations.

As recently as on Monday, players attorney David Boies said that calling the NBA would be a "waste of time" because he felt the league has "no interest in talking," statements the NBA immediately disputed through a spokesperson.

But Berger reported on Tuesday that Jim Quinn, a deal-maker with ties to both NBA commissioner David Stern and the league, had offered to help get the dialogue going. Also on Tuesday, former NBPA executive director Billy Hunter said that a judge could appoint a mediator to oversee negotiations as early as next week.

Salvaging the NBA's showcase Christmas Day games would likely require a deal to be agreed in principle by Friday, as the NBA has said it needs a full month of preparation time to launch a season. On Nov. 15, the NBA officially cancelled all games through Dec. 15.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com