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June 16 - CSI Beats the NBA

Have you gotten a look at the ratings for this year's NBA Finals?

To call them brutal would be an insult to the word brutal. Let's just put it this way.........Game One's
ratings were lower than that of a rerun of "CSI" on at the same time. Game One!!!

The NBA Finals are no longer must see TV. The marquee event of one of the major sports leagues is
not getting even a sniff from the casual fan this year. And with the NBA in a new labor battle with its
players, this is real bad news.

The players want to keep a status quo with contracts and salaries, but the owners see the writing on the
wall. The NBA is on its way down. It has peaked an now is suffering a downslide that may end up being
monumental. The previous low ratings for a Finals was in 2003, when the Spurs and Nets drew a 6.5,
but that number is being threatened this year.

No spin can change these numbers, as much as David Stern tries to put a positive glow on things. He
recently countered these numbers by saying that the numbers are up significantly overseas. Well, who
cares! Americans don't. American broadcasters don't. American advertisers certainly don't. And since
the game is based in America, shouldn't that be the league's priority? I guess not. I guess in the
league's eyes, America is no longer a priority. I guess that the league has said, "Well, the casual fan in
the US doesn't care about us anymore, so we won't bother trying to get them to watch us."

So why is this the case? Why has the American public apparently tuned out the NBA? I think it goes well
beyond the NBA player image that turns off so many Americans. Yes, the American public has grown
sick of the tattoos, the gangsta image, the posses and the rebel, "me-first", whine when it doesn't go my
way attitude. But there are a few things intrinsically wrong with the NBA game.

Basically, it stinks to watch. It is boring and uninteresting these days. Gone are the "Showtime" days of
running up and down the court, slam dunks and fun, transitional ball. In their stead are half-court,
slowdown tactics focusing on defense. No longer is the goal to outscore your opponent. Now, the goal
is to hold your opponent to fewer points. And is that really the purpose of teams sports like this? I know
a few teams, such as Phoenix and Dallas, play they "old-fashioned" way and are entertaining to watch.
But this Finals, with the top two defensive teams in the league in Detroit and San Antonio, is painful. I
am writing this while suffering from back spasms that have been more fun that watching these games.

There are a few reasons why the NBA game stinks right now. And while the league continues to scratch
its head as to what to do to make the game more interesting, there are two things they should do, but
never will. No one at the league would ever admit to these being right, but I defy you to find any holes in
the logic:

1 - Eliminate the three point shot. I know what you are saying right now. Huh? It is one of the most
exciting parts of the game right now. How can this help? Well, here is a fact.....As the number of three
point shots attempted has risen over time, the number of total shots taken in the game has decreased.
Look it up. This is an indisputable fact. I know there are those out there that say stats can be spun
however you want them to be, but this one is a black and white fact. Offenses have become stagnant as
teams stand around, waiting for a three point shot to become available. The original intent of the three
pointer was to create excitement late in the game for comebacks. Instead, it has become a large part of
many team's offenses. A last resort has become a primary option and has contributed largely to the
boring action today.

2 - Don't expand, contract. I know your response is to laugh at this, too. But why do you think coaches
preach defense so much these days? The talent level on most teams is well below what it used to be
and, because of that, many coaches are faced with the fact that the only way they can compete on a
regular basis is to take the air out of the ball and slow things down to the extent that they don't get run off
the court. And what we are faced with, as viewers of the game, is teams walking the ball up the court
rather than running it up and teams taking as much time off the 24 second clock as they can before
shooting, rather than trying to create shots as quickly as they can. Again, a fact. Every time there has
been an expansion in the league, scoring throughout the league has dropped significantly within two
seasons, if not faster. This is exactly what has ailed the NHL over the last ten years and is why hockey
became tedious to watch before their lockout began. You can try and change the rules all you want, but
as long as coaches, whose first and only priority is to win and win now (or get fired), slow the game
down, the rule changes really won't mean a damn thing.

When I worked for the NBA, I raised both of these issues, which might be one of the reasons I no longer
work there. The league's primary goal these days is to make money, which, as a business, it should be.
But the game itself has suffered so extremely that the casual fan is just about gone.

They are watching "CSI" instead.