March Madness Puts The NBA’s Product To Shame
I know I’ve expressed my thoughts on the poor entertainment quality of the NBA before, but today I’ll provide an even more direct comparison. Hopefully watching March Madness has opened up everyone’s eyes. If you still think the NBA has a better product than college basketball is in terms of entertainment value, then I’m not sure you’re an actual basketball fan.
Maybe I’m being judgy because it really is your choice at the end of the day. Maybe you just enjoy watching these skilled men jog and walk around impassionately, participating in a long distance shooting competition. Maybe you relish the wonderful displays of these freakish athletes’ acting trying to win their “Oscar” from the men in the zebra stripes. Maybe you enjoy the 24/7 switching screen defense NBA teams employ because these millionaires are too lazy to get low in a defensive stance and fight their butt off through a screen. Maybe you just love the reassurance you get from seeing the best team in the league beat up on a mediocre team not once, but four times in supposed “high-stakes” games. And maybe you just enjoy predictability so much so that seeing the better team ensured to ALWAYS win in the playoffs really gets you going.
You see where I’m going with this? There are so many flaws that make the games almost unbearable to watch for me. As someone who’s loved basketball his entire life and is a current high school basketball player, it’s sad to see. Don’t get me wrong, the skills and shot-making we see on a nightly basis in the NBA is incredible. Personally, though, the lack of intensity and effort for the majority of games just makes the game seem like a couple of individuals chucking up shots vs another and whoever does it better wins. And even worse, its usually the same 2-3 players on each team taking almost every SINGLE shot. The essence of team basketball and playing hard just doesn’t seem to be there anymore. Thankfully, there’s an alternative.
College basketball is a completely different animal. Generally for the better. Obviously, they’re not as skilled as NBA players but they make up for it with so much passion, energy, intensity, and effort. They play DEFENSE. Points aren’t handed out like stimulus checks, either by bail-out foul calls by the refs or by abysmal defense. Every single point is hard-earned and fought for. And it actually has a semblance of a team sport. Every single player is locked in at all times whether its offense or defense.
You watch a college basketball game and you can see how badly every single player on the court wants it. Whether they’re on the court or off. Compared to the often disinterested players on the bench in the NBA, college basketball benches are a thing of beauty. Every single one of them standing up and screaming even on a simply layup tells you all you should need to understand the spirit of college basketball. Not to mention that they aren’t the ones getting millions just from being a part of the team. They’re just there for their true love of the game and that’s special.
And of course. The best part about college basketball has to be the special single elimination round system in March and the excitement of filling out your bracket. When you make one game for all the marbles that’s how you incentivize viewership and excitement. And that’s something the NBA can learn from especially when considering they already have such unbelievable talent and brand recognition in place. Right now its at the point when I would almost rather watch a high school playoff game over a random Game 3 in the first round of the NBA playoffs. At least I know those kids are going to put everything they have on the line because that one game means everything to them.
At the end of the day, the NBA fundamentally has to change something to improve their games. Until then I guess we still have March Madness and all of college basketball for those of us that want to see real, high-quality and passionate team basketball.