The NBA needs small market teams like the Utah Jazz to be successful
Last Thursday night, the Los Angeles Lakers were eliminated from the playoffs after losing Game 6 of their first-round series to the Phoenix Suns. Earlier in the evening, the Denver Nuggets advanced to the second round, setting up a Western Conference semi-final against the Suns.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the Western Conference bracket, the Utah Jazz will face a second-round Los Angeles Clippers team that trailed 2-0 in their first-round streak and had to force and win. a Game 7 to get past the Dallas Mavericks.
With the LeBron-led Lakers no longer in playoff contention, the likelihood of a small market team making it to the finals has increased. As at the right time, as soon as the final buzzer of this elimination match sounded, several notable people took to social media with their thoughts on the big names and the big markets that are not competing for a championship.
Former Warriors and Lakers player Nick Young was one of the first to voice his feelings.
Weakest playoffs ever, nobody wants to see Utah against the Nets or the Suns against the dollars lol
– Nick Young (@NickSwagyPYoung) June 4, 2021
Max Kellerman, co-host of First Take on ESPN, also stepped in with tongue-in-cheek comments.
So instead of a Lakers-Clippers conference final, are we going to have Denver-Utah? And instead of an NY-LA final, maybe Utah-Milwaukee? The league must rejoice
– Max Kellerman (@maxkellerman) June 4, 2021
I guess as an NBA reporter and analyst and someone has an opinion on the matter, I might as well put my two cents.
Consistency isn’t what makes the NBA fun. Surprises, reshuffles, dramas, stories – that’s why the NBA is the most entertaining professional sports league.
The NBA offseason has become one of the most anticipated times of the year, not because everyone expects the same, but because there is always something explosive going on and shocking.
The NBA is no longer a sport that can only affect those in big cities or that destines a person to become a fan of a team based on geography. A kid in Pittsburg, Kansas, or Leachville, Arkansas, or Paradise, California, can stream games to their phone and track stats in real time. You can be a fan of one team, multiple teams, or just the players and the game in general.
The NBA audience is getting younger and younger, and many of the league’s most exciting players who attract young fans are young players from small market teams.
If the Jazz make it to the final with Donovan Mitchell in the lead or the Suns succeed with Devin Booker scoring at historic levels, there will be lifelong fans forged in these races.
Trae Young just led the Atlanta Hawks to the New York Knicks in the first round of the playoffs, then led the Hawks to a second round victory in Game 1 over the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference. . It’s not bad for the league, it’s good.
The Hawks haven’t made the final since 1961, when they were based in St. Louis. Instilling that fan base with something to encourage, something to excite, is good for the league.
If the Jazz qualify for the final, it will be the first time since John Stockton and Karl Malone took them there only to see Michael Jordan win his sixth Larry O’Brien Trophy. The stories alone are worth some parity in the league, and if you don’t believe me, listen to Rudy Gobert.
“I think the beauty of this game is that you can tell stories,” Gobert said, “and the beauty is always in the journey more than in the profit, and at the end of the day when you tell beautiful stories. stories, it brings benefits. “
As someone working to turn stories into profits, I couldn’t agree more.
It might not be the Jazz that comes out of the West and makes it to the Finals, but if it does, Jazz has a plethora of exciting players from all over the world, and their history is pretty good.
“It’s the story of resilience, it’s a story of overcoming adversity,” Gobert said. “I think it should be inspiring for anyone who pays attention. I mean, with everything that happened, we could have gone our separate ways, and we didn’t. We have become stronger.
The Jazz are a very good team and could very well qualify for the NBA Finals, but even if they don’t, there are other small teams out there that stand a chance, and even if it ends up being Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers against Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, James Harden and the Brooklyn Nets fighting for a championship is something different and exciting.
This year, NBA fans are guaranteed a series of championships between teams that haven’t made the finals for at least 15 seasons. The last final appearance for one of the eight remaining playoff teams came when the Nets (when they were based in New Jersey) faced the San Antonio Spurs in 2003. For the first time ever in 10 years, the final will not take place LeBron James or Stephen Curry.
The defending Lakers champion was knocked out of the playoffs in the first round, and his 2020 Finals opponent, the Miami Heat, was also sent out early. The Golden State Warriors didn’t even make the playoffs.
Just because some of the big markets aren’t competing doesn’t mean the NBA isn’t great or a draw. The Knicks haven’t competed for a title since 1999 and the NBA has always been amazing.
Turner Sports said on Monday that the first round of this year’s playoff games broadcast on TNT produced its largest audience since 2018, up 42% from last year. People love basketball and they just keep looking because the Warriors aren’t playing. They didn’t stop watching when the Knicks were horrible and they won’t stop watching now.
The NBA is recovering from a year of pandemic that threatened to completely ruin the sport. Parity, excitement and rocky things are just what this league needs right now.