Speaking with the Associated Press' Jon Krawczynski on Thursday, Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star Kevin Love offered this up:
No. No. No. Nooooo. NO. No. NOOOOO. No, and no. And we're upset about this enough to "ratchet up the intensity" here at Ball Don't Lie and take Kevin out of consideration for the first-team All-NBA selection he has clearly earned so far in 2011-12. The NBA All-Star Game decides who gets home-court advantage in the Finals? The only group that could possibly be in favor of that are sports writers who often have to figure out if they have to pack for Miami or Chicago, or Boston and Orlando, in the last second after a conference final ends and the Finals start a couple of days later. Everyone else? That's a big fat "BOO."
Sorry, Kevin. And I say this coming from a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, who utilized a late-season run last summer to sneak in the backdoor of the postseason, and a nice home-field turn a few weeks later on their way to a World Series win. Did the loss of home-field advantage destroy the Texas Rangers' chances in the World Series? Probably not. Did it hurt them, especially when it came down to a Game 7 in Missouri? Perhaps. I'm sure they would have preferred to play the deciding game in Texas.
In basketball? Where the best team usually ends up winning it all? Things are different. Let's not mess with that to make a Sunday night game on TNT a little more interesting. As if Bud Selig's 2004 ruling about home-field advantage has made his All-Star game any more compelling.
Baseball, and we love it for this, is a fluke sport even in the postseason. Football and college hoops, with their single-elimination playoffs, aren't far off. The NBA takes in its fair share of upsets from time to time, and the playoffs are an engaging watch in spite of the chalk approach, but the best team usually finds a way to pull it out within seven games unless something (an injury, a suspension, or an odd matchup) has gone pear-shaped.
I can't recall many plays from the MLB All-Star Games in the years since 2004 despite (probably) watching them, but I recall about as many from the NBA All-Star Game in recent years. I love the NBA's version, and welcome what it is worth, but players do take it easy and if the alley-oops aren't connecting there isn't much to chew on.
Not to slam the relative athleticism of baseball players, but they can sit through an All-Star game and not have it take much toll on their tired bodies. The NBA? It's closer to the NFL's Pro Bowl, which the NFL runs following the season, because who would force players through an exhibition like that midseason?
The NBA isn't wrong to hold its All-Star game midseason, but the players aren't wrong to go through the motions (mindful of the NBA's stretch run) in their version of this sometimes-forgettable exhibition game. The result, as we should all be happy with, is a lighthearted affair featuring the NBA's best players filled with all the pomp and silliness that a pointless game held in a February month with nothing else going on in sports should offer. It's a trifle. We can't wait to watch it, but it's forgettable.
And the NBA certainly doesn't need to adopt what might be (BCS aside) the least-popular ruling in sports in order to make things more competitive. Baseball players aren't exactly barreling into catchers or taking the extra base in their All-Star game these days, smartly, even if their teams have an outside or even pretty good shot at the home-field advantage three months later in the World Series. Even the most dogged of NBA competitors, with a shot at the Finals (a far tougher shot than baseball teams have) won't be thinking "home court" while they consider taking a charge in late February.
This is fish in a barrel. And as much as the NBA has screwed up over the last year or so, they're not going to be ridiculous enough to listen to the otherwise well-meaning Love's suggestion.
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