The NBA has a new commissioner, Adam Silver, for the first time in 30 years after David Stern’s recent retirement. So what should Silver do?
Here are five steps he should consider at some point:
• Reduce the number of playoff teams and give byes to the top two.
It’s a long regular season that does not really reward the teams that do the best over the long haul. The NFL bestows byes for their top teams, and the NBA should do likewise. This could be done by reducing the number of teams that make the playoffs in each conference from eight to six.
Give the top two teams byes and have the bottom four play best-of-five series. The two winners would then play the two top teams in best-of-seven series.
• Tweak the fan voting process for the All-Star Game.
I’m fine with allowing the fans to vote for starters – it’s an exhibition game that does not have the meaning of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, which determines which league gets the home field advantage in the playoffs. But when fans make an obvious mistake, such as voting in Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who only played in six of the Lakers’ first 43 games, a selection committee of coaches, former players and executives should step in and right the wrong.
It might help if fans are only allowed to vote once and not multiple times through social media sites and other means. Enforcing that might prove difficult, but having fans vote as many times as they want compromises the process.
• Go back to the old slam dunk contest format.
This is a case of the fix being worse than the original version. The slam dunk contest on Feb. 15 featured some great dunk artists, but we did not get to see them do much. At the very least, there should have been a final dunk-off between John Wall, Paul George and Terrence Ross.
The old format was slow at times, but that could be rectified by giving participants only two or three tries to make a dunk, instead of two minutes.
• Lobby for more transparency for Hall of Fame voting.
As it stands now, no one knows who has been keeping Spencer Haywood and other NBA greats out of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame for so many years. We know most voters and how they vote for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Why don’t we know more about who is voting for this important hoops honor, which helps define the legacies of players, coaches and executives?
NBA officials have said the voting is secret to allow voters to be more objective and not be subject to political pressure. But opening up the process would not only improve transparency and accountability, it would spark more interest in the Hall of Fame by fans. Silver could not change the process by himself since the Hall of Fame is not an NBA entity, but he does possess some considerable lobbying power.
• Flash the Vulcan salute at the end of each press conference.
Does anyone else think Silver bears a little resemblance to Star Trek’s Spock, admittedly an aging Leonard Nimoy? He could liven up press conferences and create some goodwill with fans and the media by flashing the Vulcan salute at the end of those sessions and saying, “Live long and prosper.”