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Saturday, February 01, 2014

MLB has greater parity than NFL

So that’s the exception, you say? The Same Teams Win Every Year in baseball, you say? Really? Actually, baseball hasn’t had a season in which more than half of its playoff teams repeated since 2005. The NFL is working on a streak of five straight seasons in which at least half of its playoff teams were repeaters. Who knew!

Clearly, the NFL needs to get rid of the salary cap so it can have as much parity as baseball.

Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: February 01, 2014 at 06:44 PM | 63 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. cardsfanboy Posted: February 01, 2014 at 08:30 PM (#4649941)
Love the article. Sure it's cherry picked numbers and all, and is a superficial examination of the two sports, but it's still fun to poke holes in the supposed myth of "salary cap creates parity."

As so many people around here like to point out, Nothing beats a smart front office. And the NFL is proof of that. I prefer baseball, where money can make up ground for a bad front office, but it's not a guarantee. Just a way to cover up mistakes or accidents. Of course I also like to tweak the Texans and claim that the NFL is communism in action, while MLB is capitalism in action.



   2. Lars6788 Posted: February 01, 2014 at 08:37 PM (#4649942)
Not the same teams win in baseball but the same types of teams with a healthy payroll and can occasionally swallow 'bad' contracts.
   3. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: February 01, 2014 at 08:42 PM (#4649943)
the supposed myth of "salary cap creates parity."

Eight franchises have won the last 30 NBA championships. Three teams account for 18 of those 30.

Lakers 8
Bulls 6
Spurs 4
Celtics 3
Pistons 3
Heat 3
Rockets 2
Mavericks 1
   4. SteveF Posted: February 01, 2014 at 08:53 PM (#4649946)
The nature of baseball promotes parity. Coaching is basically irrelevant and there's no position analogous to quarterback. The only thing keeping football from being like basketball is the randomness fostered by injuries and short seasons/one game playoffs.

Basketball has a real problem which it essentially solves by trying to nationalize the sport. You can't rely on local teams alone to maintain interest in your product because at any given time you have 10-15 teams/markets that have sucked/had no chance of winning a championship for nearly a generation at a time. The only alternative (for basketball) would be rule changes to minimize the impact any one player can realistically have on the outcomes of games, which would cause the entertainment value of the product to suffer mightily.
   5. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: February 01, 2014 at 09:46 PM (#4649960)
[4] Alternately the NBA could have the top players change teams more often and conglomerate less often. Of course, people like rooting for the same players on the same teams (I'm a huge Kobe/Lakers fan myself) which is why the salary rules are set up so that superstars stay on the same team more often.
   6. Dr. Vaux Posted: February 01, 2014 at 09:53 PM (#4649963)
It would almost make more sense for professional basketball to be organized around top players who freely aggregated with each other, either with or without other corporate partnership, to play tournaments at various local sites, instead of teams tethered to particular cities.
   7. Knock on any Iorg Posted: February 01, 2014 at 09:55 PM (#4649964)
I thought the headline read "MLB has greater PARTY than NFL" but I think Super Bowl weekend gives the lie to that.
   8. Random Transaction Generator Posted: February 01, 2014 at 10:16 PM (#4649969)
15 franchises have won the last 30 NHL Stanley Cups:

Edmonton 5
Detroit 4
Pittsburgh 3
New Jersey 3
Montreal 2
Colorado 2
Chicago 2
Los Angeles 1
Boston 1
Anaheim 1
Carolina 1
Tampa Bay 1
Dallas 1
New York (Rangers) 1
Calgary 1

Of course, there was almost no parity to speak of between 1968 (post-expansion) and 1990 (pre-Soviet breakup). Of the 23 championships, 18 of them were won by three teams (Montreal (9), Edmonton (5), New York (4)), and there was only one singleton champion of the group (Calgary, with Philly and Boston winning 2 each)

Even worse, between 1983 and 1990, there were only six teams that even made the finals:

1983 - Islanders beat Oilers
1984 - Oilers beat Islanders
1985 - Oilers beat Flyers
1986 - Canadiens beat Flames
1987 - Oilers beat Flyers
1988 - Oilers beat Bruins
1989 - Flames beat Canadiens
1990 - Oilers beat Bruins

You had the same four matchups, repeated.

   9. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 01, 2014 at 10:31 PM (#4649974)
I think the NFL and NBA have less parity simply because if you have one great player, it can make a big difference for a long time. I don't think you'll ever see a similar impact in baseball.
   10. SoSH U at work Posted: February 01, 2014 at 10:37 PM (#4649975)
I think the NFL and NBA have less parity simply because if you have one great player, it can make a big difference for a long time. I don't think you'll ever see a similar impact in baseball.


That's true, but I think it's more than just that. Put simply, the better team is more likely to win a football or basketball game than the better baseball or hockey team is. That's just the nature of the sports.

   11. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: February 01, 2014 at 11:14 PM (#4649985)
[10] That is certainly true, but I think that's balanced by the NFL season having 16 games compared to 162 by MLB. The point holds for the NBA, though.
   12. SoSH U at work Posted: February 01, 2014 at 11:21 PM (#4649987)
[10] That is certainly true, but I think that's balanced by the NFL season having 16 games compared to 162 by MLB. The point holds for the NBA, though.


I'd say football falls somewhere in between baseball and basketball in terms of true talent converting to wins at the game level. And yes, a lot of the true talent -> winning is recovered in baseball compared to football due to baseball's supremely long regular season (though that's given back during baseball's short series playoff format).

In a single game, there's no such thing as a true baseball upset in MLB.

   13. Buck Coats Posted: February 02, 2014 at 12:23 AM (#4649999)
Really? Actually, baseball hasn’t had a season in which more than half of its playoff teams repeated since 2005. The NFL is working on a streak of five straight seasons in which at least half of its playoff teams were repeaters


Kind of weird to use a slightly different measure of comparison there
   14. AndrewJ Posted: February 02, 2014 at 12:37 AM (#4650004)
Baseball had great parity even before the three-division/wild-card setup: From 1980-92 I think 23 of the 26 franchises had a division title and there were no back-to-back World Series winners.
   15. BDC Posted: February 02, 2014 at 10:31 AM (#4650036)
As with so many general assertions, it depends what question you're asking. MLB hasn't had a repeat champion since 1998-2000. The NFL had one in 2003-04, and that's the last time the NFL had even a repeat Super Bowl participant. The World Series has seen some repeat participants lately, and several teams back in the Series after one year away. The impression that the NFL currently produces a steady churn of new championship contenders compared to MLB is somewhat valid.

Both leagues feature strong franchises, but although certain ones always seem to be in the playoff hunt, the system doesn't allow any of them a monopoly on rings in either case. It may seem like the Patriots and Yankees are dominant clubs, but neither one has won a bunch of titles recently.

Seen from the bottom up, there are a number of NFL franchises that can't seem to break through (Jacksonville, Houston, Kansas City despite some success in '13, Cleveland, Detroit), just as there are some that can't get much traction in MLB (Seattle, Kansas City, Pittsburgh despite some success in '13, Miami recently, San Diego). Honestly I don't know if there's a huge difference. MLB has no salary cap, but between the floor and the luxury threshold, they've engineered about as much competitiveness as the more admittedly socialist NFL. I don't think there's much to choose.
   16. cardsfanboy Posted: February 02, 2014 at 11:33 AM (#4650050)
Seen from the bottom up, there are a number of NFL franchises that can't seem to break through (Jacksonville, Houston, Kansas City despite some success in '13, Cleveland, Detroit), just as there are some that can't get much traction in MLB (Seattle, Kansas City, Pittsburgh despite some success in '13, Miami recently, San Diego). Honestly I don't know if there's a huge difference. MLB has no salary cap, but between the floor and the luxury threshold, they've engineered about as much competitiveness as the more admittedly socialist NFL. I don't think there's much to choose.


Good assessment. I oppose a salary cap on principle, although I like the voluntary salary cap that baseball has, it's significantly high enough that it's not really a hindrance, versus the other sports who's salary cap is way too low(in my opinion) and forces teams to do creative book keeping or trading.

Good organizations are going to find a way to succeed, and poor ones will find a way to not. The structure of the system isn't going to figure into it. Personally I'll take the system that at least encourages the advantage to the players (guaranteed contracts, nothing realistically blocking the owners from signing a player at an outrageous amount, etc.)
   17. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: February 02, 2014 at 03:28 PM (#4650114)
I'm a huge Kobe/Lakers fan myself


Gross.
   18. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 02, 2014 at 04:07 PM (#4650124)

Both leagues feature strong franchises, but although certain ones always seem to be in the playoff hunt, the system doesn't allow any of them a monopoly on rings in either case. It may seem like the Patriots and Yankees are dominant clubs, but neither one has won a bunch of titles recently.


I don't think the metric should be if any one club is winning titles, but if the circle of teams that are serious contenders is the same group of clubs every year for a long period. Up until a few years ago, I felt like this was the NFL. If you weren't the Patriots/Colts/Steelers/Ravens/Packers/Saints, it didn't seem like you had much of a shot.

In MLB, I feel like the last 10-13 years has given us a lot of different groups of contenders.
   19. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: February 02, 2014 at 04:30 PM (#4650130)
If you weren't the Patriots/Colts/Steelers/Ravens/Packers/Saints, it didn't seem like you had much of a shot.

In MLB, I feel like the last 10-13 years has given us a lot of different groups of contenders.

And yet, since 2000, by my count, a team that was not the Patriots/Colts/Steelers/Ravens/Packers/Saints has made the SB 16 times (counting today's teams).
   20. Greg K Posted: February 02, 2014 at 04:53 PM (#4650133)
I haven't paid attention in a long time, but I recall in the late 90s-early 2000s it seemed like the Stanley Cup final was always a great team vs. some Cinderella that had gone on a run.

96: Colorado over Florida
97: Detroit over Philly
98: Detroit over Washington
99: Dallas over Buffalo
00: New Jersey over Dallas
01: Colorado over New Jersey
02: Detroit over Carolina
03: New Jersey over Anaheim
04: Tampa Bay over Calgary

Seemed like the same teams in the final a lot, but only actually faced each other in 2000 and 2001. I guess Philly counts as a team that was pretty good throughout the period in a St. Louis or Toronto kind of way. Tampa Bay and Calgary changed the score though. Set the stage for a trio of Canadian teams making the finals and losing.
   21. Rough Carrigan Posted: February 02, 2014 at 05:09 PM (#4650137)
One thing the NBA does to try to overcome its lack of parity is to promote individual stars as the focus for fans. This seems harmless but one wonders if it didn't contribute to the diminishment of the Bird/Magic style passing game and if it didn't help move the game to the dumb and ugly isolate your star in half the frontcourt offense.

And this is just one fan's impression but I've always thought the NBA is the worst officiated of the four major sports. Again, this is one fan's impression but star players in MLB don't get special treatment like they do in the NBA. Star players in the NFL don't get special treatment like they do in the NBA. Star players in the NHL don't get special treatment like they do in the NBA. Officiating in the other sports is far from perfect but the NBA seems worst for things like Michael Jordan's comically obvious push off of a Utah defender to get open for his last game winning shot as a Bull.
   22. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 02, 2014 at 05:17 PM (#4650144)

And yet, since 2000, by my count, a team that was not the Patriots/Colts/Steelers/Ravens/Packers/Saints has made the SB 16 times (counting today's teams).


That's barely over 1 per year!
   23. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: February 02, 2014 at 05:30 PM (#4650149)
I feel like MLB has had a lot more teams make the World Series that were seen as non-contenders in the preseason than any other sport. The 2008 Rays, 2007 Rockies, 2006 Tigers, 2005 White Sox, 2003 Marlins, 2002 Angels. Ok, I guess that hasn't been the case the last few years but it certainly was throughout the aughts.
   24. Dr. Vaux Posted: February 02, 2014 at 05:48 PM (#4650156)
The 2013 Red Sox.
   25. Bunny Vincennes Posted: February 02, 2014 at 05:58 PM (#4650160)
80 some odd win Cards team?
   26. cardsfanboy Posted: February 02, 2014 at 07:02 PM (#4650175)
And this is just one fan's impression but I've always thought the NBA is the worst officiated of the four major sports. Again, this is one fan's impression but star players in MLB don't get special treatment like they do in the NBA. Star players in the NFL don't get special treatment like they do in the NBA. Star players in the NHL don't get special treatment like they do in the NBA. Officiating in the other sports is far from perfect but the NBA seems worst for things like Michael Jordan's comically obvious push off of a Utah defender to get open for his last game winning shot as a Bull.


I have a running joke, that in the NBA, you are allowed an extra step in travelling for every 3 all star game appearances you have.

80 some odd win Cards team?

The Cardinals were perceived as a favorite going into the season, and led the division for most of the year(May 10th to the rest of the season) , losing something like 10 out of the last 14 games of the season to make their record look worse than the way they played for most of the year. Add in that in the the two previous seasons they won 100, and 105 games...and I'm not really sure that the Cardinals is a good example.
   27. The Yankee Clapper Posted: February 02, 2014 at 07:57 PM (#4650230)
I have a running joke, that in the NBA, you are allowed an extra step in travelling for every 3 all star game appearances you have.

The current players are very good, but might be challenged a bit if they still called traveling and palming the way they did when Oscar Robertson played.
   28. OsunaSakata Posted: February 03, 2014 at 07:46 AM (#4650588)
I think that in the NBA and such a small roster, players are all that matter. The position also seems to require the least amount of previous experience to be hired, such as Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. On the other side, football has a huge roster that organization matters more than players. Players don't go from retirement to a head coaching job. Baseball is somewhere in between. A team is not doomed by being unable to draft superstars or or by not having a great organization.
   29. The Pequod Posted: February 03, 2014 at 10:43 AM (#4650617)
Alternately the NBA could have the top players ... conglomerate less often.


I never hear anyone talking about how the salary cap contributes to this problem. When every team can offer just about the same $/years, why wouldn't you team up with your buddies in the most glamorous city available?

Dan Gilbert was not allowed to offer Lebron the stupid crazy money it would've taken to get him to stay in Cleveland. Heck, his franchise lost more value (probably several times over) the day Lebron left than they were able to offer.
   30. villageidiom Posted: February 03, 2014 at 10:47 AM (#4650620)
The NBA fans with the best view at a game have whistles.
   31. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: February 03, 2014 at 10:48 AM (#4650622)
One thing the NBA does to try to overcome its lack of parity is to promote individual stars as the focus for fans. This seems harmless but one wonders if it didn't contribute to the diminishment of the Bird/Magic style passing game and if it didn't help move the game to the dumb and ugly isolate your star in half the frontcourt offense.


For what it's worth I think the problem of these isolation-based offenses probably peaked in the late-90s, a period during which the NBA was damn-near unwatchable, and isn't as much of a blight on the league these days. I don't follow the NBA much but when I do watch the occasional game on TV I don't see the type of shameless ballhogging that sapped my interest in the game back then.
   32. Crosseyed and Painless Posted: February 03, 2014 at 11:02 AM (#4650632)
The max individual contract in the NBA skews everything. LeBron is probably worth 50% of a team's salary cap. Maybe more. Instead he makes a few million more than Josh Smith.
   33. ASmitty Posted: February 03, 2014 at 11:03 AM (#4650633)
I don't follow the NBA much but when I do watch the occasional game on TV I don't see the type of shameless ballhogging that sapped my interest in the game back then.


Indeed. The style of play in the NBA has changed pretty radically with the introduction of legal pseudo-zone defenses and the proliferation of statistical analysis. Today's offenses are built around being able to beat the new defenses, and to generate the field goal attempts that analysis has shown to be the best.

In fact, there's a segment of hardcore NBA junkies who have started to complain that the game has gotten stale due to the fact that offensive strategy has been "solved" by analytics, similar to the way many baseball fans complain about take and rake snooze-fests. I'm not sure I agree, but the notion is out there.

The other night I watched a Pistons/Sixers game, and Philly did not score a single point that was not inside the paint, beyond the three-point line, or at the free-throw line.
   34. villageidiom Posted: February 03, 2014 at 11:15 AM (#4650646)
I don't follow the NBA much but when I do watch the occasional game on TV I don't see the type of shameless ballhogging that sapped my interest in the game back then.
Now instead of ball-hogging there's a lot of passing and other ball movement, leading up to the point when there's 7 left on the shot clock. At that point they get the ball to the leading scorer and he either launches a shot from wherever he is or takes seven steps on one dribble to the hoop.

The Harlem Globetrotters have less superfluous ball movement, fewer acrobatics, and better officiating than the NBA.

EDIT: My apologies on this. There's already an NBA OT thread. I didn't mean to exacerbate a thread hijack.
   35. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: February 03, 2014 at 11:17 AM (#4650647)
Dan Gilbert was not allowed to offer Lebron the stupid crazy money it would've taken to get him to stay in Cleveland. Heck, his franchise lost more value (probably several times over) the day Lebron left than they were able to offer.

Of course, if they hadn't been able to force LeBron into a contract in the first place, the franchise value would never have risen to the point where it could fall so much by LeBron leaving. So my sympathy for Dan Gilbert is fairly minimal. Especially since he is such an asshole.

But I will take this opportunity, to once again laugh at the pathetic letter he wrote, after LeBron left... how did that guarantee work out again?
   36. AROM Posted: February 03, 2014 at 11:33 AM (#4650659)
As so many people around here like to point out, Nothing beats a smart front office. And the NFL is proof of that.


Can't deny that, but it seems the real deciding factor for the NFL is having an elite QB. You can build a great team without one, such as building an elite defense. But it's harder to maintain a team that way than it is to just keep one QB around.
   37. BDC Posted: February 03, 2014 at 11:45 AM (#4650672)
the real deciding factor for the NFL is having an elite QB

The more so these days, with the much-criticized (by purists) open style of play that makes the NFL sometimes look like touch football with concussions. The elite running back is hardly an extinct species, of course, but I sense that the league and its fans see much less glamour in that role than years ago.

I'm not really a purist. The Cowboys pass a lot, and it's a lot of fun to watch; Tony Romo, for all his faults, is extremely good at it. But the last champion we had here was built around Emmitt Smith (and his offensive line), and Smith was certainly a marketable superstar. I'd like to see his likes again.
   38. ASmitty Posted: February 03, 2014 at 11:48 AM (#4650675)
Can't deny that, but it seems the real deciding factor for the NFL is having an elite QB. You can build a great team without one, such as building an elite defense.


If this year's playoff teams are any indication, winning in the NFL requires either an elite QB or a good QB who's still under his rookie contract.

Seattle: Solid QB on a dirt cheap rookie deal
Denver: Elite QB
San Francisco: Solid QB on a dirt cheap rookie deal
New England: Elite QB
Carolina: Solid QB on a cheap rookie deal
New Orleans: Elite QB
San Diego: Once-elite QB who is sort of back to being elite
Indianapolis: Solid QB on a cheap rookie deal

And so on. I think you'll see teams like St. Louis, Detroit, and now Baltimore continue to struggle in the future, as they have massively expensive contracts for non-elite QBs. To some extent that can't be avoided, but it's a major inefficiency and competitive disadvantage.

EDIT: I'm actually not sure Kaepernick is on his rookie deal anymore, but he is still quite cheap.
   39. villageidiom Posted: February 03, 2014 at 12:11 PM (#4650704)
The elite running back is hardly an extinct species, of course, but I sense that the league and its fans see much less glamour in that role than years ago.
It's easier to develop personnel and plays to stop a pass rush than it is to develop them to enable a running game. Emmitt Smith was a great running back, but a significant part of his elite status came from what the Cowboys' offensive line was able to accomplish for him.
   40. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: February 03, 2014 at 12:20 PM (#4650714)
And this is just one fan's impression but I've always thought the NBA is the worst officiated of the four major sports.


I'm pretty sure that NBA officiating is not only bad, but corrupt.
   41. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 03, 2014 at 12:31 PM (#4650732)
And this is just one fan's impression but I've always thought the NBA is the worst officiated of the four major sports.


College basketball is up there now.
   42. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: February 03, 2014 at 12:44 PM (#4650752)
And college football officiating is ####### awful.
   43. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 03, 2014 at 12:45 PM (#4650754)
I'm pretty sure that NBA officiating is not only bad, but corrupt.

Pretty sure? They convicted a ref for fixing games. Do you really think he's the only one?

I also wouldn't be at all shocked if the refs are under explicit or implicit instructions to even-up some playoffs series, especially when the favorite falls behind.

If a #1 or #2 seed ever goes down 2-1 or 2-0 in an early playoff series, the next game they always go to the free-throw line a bazillion times. I don't find that coincidental.
   44. just plain joe Posted: February 03, 2014 at 12:53 PM (#4650766)
College basketball is up there now.


College basketball has always been poorly officiated; some conferences might have better officials than others but the refs in all of them are maddeningly inconsistent. The refs will call a touch foul on a play 40 feet from the basket and then 30 seconds later just stand there watching as someone drives the lane and gets undressed. The Southeastern Conference used to have an official named John Clougherty (sp) who was guaranteed to get 5-6 calls wrong per game. You just had to hope that they would somehow even out for your team and that the game wouldn't be decided by one of his blown calls. I understand that basketball is very difficult to officiate but that doesn't mean we have to accept incompetence.
   45. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: February 03, 2014 at 01:04 PM (#4650784)
I also wouldn't be at all shocked if the refs are under explicit or implicit instructions to even-up some playoffs series, especially when the favorite falls behind.


It's very clear that someone, somewhere, let them know that marketable stars need favorable officiating. That's been going on for a long time. But in the last fifteen years or so it has become obvious that the playoffs are basically fixed. I no more follow the NBA than I do pro wrestling, anymore.
   46. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 03, 2014 at 01:12 PM (#4650791)
It's very clear that someone, somewhere, let them know that marketable stars need favorable officiating. That's been going on for a long time. But in the last fifteen years or so it has become obvious that the playoffs are basically fixed. I no more follow the NBA than I do pro wrestling, anymore.

I haven't intentionally watched one minute of an NBA game in 15 years. I agree with you. It's basically fixed.
   47. jmurph Posted: February 03, 2014 at 01:18 PM (#4650800)
Yes, yes, the NBA has contrived to get the wildly popular San Antonio Spurs into the Finals 5 times in 11 (12?) seasons. That's obviously the simplest explanation.

EDIT: 5 in 15 years? Who knows these things. Math is a tricky mistress.
   48. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: February 03, 2014 at 01:33 PM (#4650810)
Yes, yes, the NBA has contrived to get the wildly popular San Antonio Spurs into the Finals 5 times in 11 (12?) seasons.


Stars, not markets.
   49. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: February 03, 2014 at 01:40 PM (#4650819)
I also wouldn't be at all shocked if the refs are under explicit or implicit instructions to even-up some playoffs series, especially when the favorite falls behind.


Actually this was supposed to have been specifically discussed in disgraced former NBA referee Tim Donaghy's book. Unfortunately it was never published. Here's an excerpt:

In the pregame meeting prior to Game 6, the league office sent down word that certain calls — calls that would have benefitted the Lakers — were being missed by the referees. This was the type of not-so-subtle information that I and other referees were left to interpret. After receiving the dispatch, [NBA Referee Dick] Bavetta openly talked about the fact that the league wanted a Game 7.

"If we give the benefit of the calls to the team that's down in the series, nobody's going to complain. The series will be even at three apiece, and then the better team can win Game 7," Bavetta stated.


Also:

Bavetta went on to inform me that it wasn't the first time the NBA assigned him to a game for a specific purpose. He cited examples, including the 1993 playoff series when he put New Jersey guard Drazen Petrovic on the bench with quick fouls to help Cleveland beat the Nets. He also spoke openly about the 2002 Los Angeles–Sacramento series and called himself the NBA's "go-to guy."
   50. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: February 03, 2014 at 01:53 PM (#4650837)
2002 Los Angeles–Sacramento series


That's the one. That's when I quit watching the NBA.
   51. BDC Posted: February 03, 2014 at 02:11 PM (#4650855)
Indeed, I too followed the NBA very closely up until that Lakers/Kings series; but it seemed "off" to me and I drifted away from the sport. I'm surprised it hasn't become the NBA's "1919."

But even before that, I was struck by the way that a great talent in the NBA, though surely traceable to athleticism and effort, was cultivated by the officiating. Dennis Rodman was a phenomenal rebounder, but of course he would stand right under the basket making no pretense of guarding anybody, until the league eliminated the concept of "illegal defense" out of embarrassment. Shaquille O'Neal was a marvel of offensive force, till you realized that it was not charging for him to knock anybody else over, but blocking if anybody resisted.

I reckon the famous "Braves strike zone" is akin, but though one got the sense that the zone was wider for Glavine, he still had to hit it. With Rodman or O'Neal or Jordan or others, their moves defined what was legal, at least for them. No wonder they looked so transcendent.
   52. Random Transaction Generator Posted: February 03, 2014 at 05:06 PM (#4650970)
Yes, yes, the NBA has contrived to get the wildly popular San Antonio Spurs into the Finals 5 times in 11 (12?) seasons.


Stars, not markets.


Who is the "star" on the Spurs?
One of the "furriners" or the dull-as-dishwater Duncan?
   53. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: February 03, 2014 at 05:20 PM (#4650980)
Who is the "star" on the Spurs?
One of the "furriners" or the dull-as-dishwater Duncan?


Duncan and Robinson, then Duncan and Tony Parker. They were huge stars in the NBA in an era dominated by big men. So yes, the Spurs got the "star treatment" by the NBA powers that be when they had the star power.
   54. Jim Wisinski Posted: February 03, 2014 at 05:34 PM (#4650990)
The NBA stuff seems like it should be ripe for OTL* or something investigative team to do a serious analysis and report on.

*ESPN has a significant NBA broadcast contract, right? So I doubt OTL would ever end up doing anything, just like ESPN pulled out of that documentary or whatever is was on concussions in the NFL.
   55. Yardape Posted: February 03, 2014 at 05:37 PM (#4650992)
Duncan and Tony Parker


I like the conspiracy that the '07 series between the Spurs and Suns was fixed. Phoenix is a) a bigger market b) had bigger stars and c) played a more aesthetically pleasing (and ratings-producing) style than the Spurs. Obviously the NBA wanted to fix that one for San Antonio.
   56. AROM Posted: February 03, 2014 at 05:37 PM (#4650993)
Dennis Rodman was a phenomenal rebounder, but of course he would stand right under the basket making no pretense of guarding anybody, until the league eliminated the concept of "illegal defense" out of embarrassment.


Rodman did that sometimes, but he got just as many rebounds when he was guarding people. He played defense when playing for a coach who could handle him, which basically means Chuck Daly or Phil Jackson. In the 1996 playoffs, Rodman actually spent some time guarding Shaq, and doing a decent job at it despite giving up 6+ inches and at least 100 pounds.
   57. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: February 03, 2014 at 05:38 PM (#4650994)
ESPN has a significant NBA broadcast contract, right? So I doubt OTL would ever end up doing anything, just like ESPN pulled out of that documentary or whatever is was on concussions in the NFL.


Yep. I'm sure there will be an in depth I-team piece on game fixing in the NBA right around the time the NBA stops paying the major sports networks billions per year. (I'm not sure why HBO Sports wouldn't take a look at it.)
   58. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: February 03, 2014 at 05:40 PM (#4650996)
Rodman did that sometimes, but he got just as many rebounds when he was guarding people. He played defense when playing for a coach who could handle him, which basically means Chuck Daly or Phil Jackson. In the 1996 playoffs, Rodman actually spent some time guarding Shaq, and doing a decent job at it despite giving up 6+ inches and at least 100 pounds.


Yes. Dennis Rodman was a crazy person who has only gotten crazier as time has passed. But in his prime, he was as dominant a defensive presence as the league has ever known. He earned that "Worm" nickname by being an athletic freak who could cover more or less anyone and take rebounds away from guys who had 6-8 inches on him.
   59. Eddo Posted: February 03, 2014 at 06:46 PM (#4651037)
Yes. Dennis Rodman was a crazy person who has only gotten crazier as time has passed. But in his prime, he was as dominant a defensive presence as the league has ever known. He earned that "Worm" nickname by being an athletic freak who could cover more or less anyone and take rebounds away from guys who had 6-8 inches on him.

Yeah. Lost in the Jordan greatness narrative in the second set of three championships is that the Bulls had four great defenders in their starting lineup, all of whom could guard at least two or three positions. Pippen is arguably the best wind defender off all time, and could acquit himself well against power forwards. Jordan might be a touch overrated, but was still a good on-the-ball defender. Harper transitioned from a high-volume scorer to a role player who contributed a lot on the defensive end. And Rodman could guard just about any position when motivated.
   60. Manny Coon Posted: February 03, 2014 at 07:18 PM (#4651049)
Yeah. Lost in the Jordan greatness narrative in the second set of three championships is that the Bulls had four great defenders in their starting lineup, all of whom could guard at least two or three positions. Pippen is arguably the best wind defender off all time, and could acquit himself well against power forwards. Jordan might be a touch overrated, but was still a good on-the-ball defender. Harper transitioned from a high-volume scorer to a role player who contributed a lot on the defensive end. And Rodman could guard just about any position when motivated.


And Luc Longley was really tall. Bulls never did win another title after Longley left.
   61. vivaelpujols Posted: February 04, 2014 at 02:15 AM (#4651212)
Love the article. Sure it's cherry picked numbers and all, and is a superficial examination of the two sports, but it's still fun to poke holes in the supposed myth of "salary cap creates parity."


NFL has far less luck involved in day to day play. Basketball even less.

If MLB had a salary cap, damn right there would be more parity.
   62. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: February 04, 2014 at 06:45 PM (#4651700)
I haven't intentionally watched one minute of an NBA game in 15 years. I agree with you. It's basically fixed.

Whenever I want the true truth of what is happening in a sport, I go to the guy who hasn't watched in 15 years.
   63. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: February 04, 2014 at 07:14 PM (#4651722)
MLB has great parity if you consider only who wins the World Series, as the MLB playoffs are almost entirely random. Not quite as much if you look at regular season records.

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