Random Thought: Relegation My Dear Watson

Let’s be honest for a second, America has never minded taking things from the British *insert burn emoji here*. I personally believe that the time has come again. In a minimum of one sport, but possibly more, I think America should take a page from the British Premier League (soccer) and introduce a big fat dose of motivation to its teams. The Brits call it relegation. You see, the 3 worst teams in the Premier League each season get kicked out of the league to a lower level league. In turn, three teams from the lower league get promoted each season. What’s really fun is that you also can get relegated from the lower league to an even lower league after that. Those of us who are weird Americans (Will, Danny, Daniel…) have been familiar with this for a long time, but more of the general populous became a bit more familiar with it this year. That’s because Leicester City won the Premier League this year. 2 years ago they were a level down from the Premier League. 7 years ago they played two levels down from the Premier League. This is probably the most shocking champion in major sports ever. (This article isn’t about that, I just wanted to provide you with some context). What this article is about the fact that the NBA (a.k.a. the Association) would benefit greatly from putting this system in place.

There are 162 games in a baseball season. There are 162 games in two NBA seasons. The most losses in a major league baseball season since 1900 is 120. In the last 162 games, the Philadelphia 76ers lost 134. The most problematic part of this is that there are many indications that stinking was completely by design. In basketball, you may only need 7 good players to compete for a championship. Stinking for a few years could help you get really good players quickly because bad teams are rewarded with high draft picks and it takes so few players to turn around a bad team. So while this is a potentially successful strategy, it is both bad for the game and bad for the city. Now imagine if the 18 win season dropped them out of the NBA to the D-League (which I would recommend renaming to the ABA for nostalgic and PR reasons). That would be a great motivator to keep teams from tanking. But avoiding tanking is only the first benefit of this system.tankadelphia-02

The D-League is a minor league for the NBA but it draws very few fans and there’s not exactly any pride that goes with being a D-League city. There are also a small number of teams, so while some prospects that missed the Association But what happens when each of those cities has a VERY legitimate chance to have an NBA team next year? That is a completely different story. There are cities that have never been viewed as an NBA city by the current ownership, but they suddenly could have a chance to have a professional team…in very little time! That means jobs, city pride, revenue, etc. for the community. You would see people that have a desire to be a team owner that just don’t have a chance that would now have that chance. You would see assistant coaches that just can’t seem to get that head coaching opportunity get that chance. You would see more teams, so more players that might have been just on the fringe of making the league would get a chance to grow and mature and possibly they could blossom into legitimate stars.  Who knows, perhaps Jaron Rush would have ended up taking Omaha to the NBA playoffs for the Ricketts family.

There are simply too many positives that I see when I analyze this, so clearly it’s unlikely to happen. But just imagine if it did…

(I could go on, but I’d lose half of the 8 of you reading this…)

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Categories: Basketball

Tags: , , ,

2 replies

  1. While I’m a proponent of relegation/promotion (especially in the B1G), the problem with the NBA/ABA outlined by the Swami is the D-League/ABA teams are owned by the Association. No owner is willing to let Des Moines (Energy) take Memphis’ spot in the League. The same ownership structure exists within MLB with MLB teams owning the lower league teams (KC Royals, Omaha Stormchasers, NW Arkansas, Wilimington DE, etc). The moment the lower league team has the talent to be promoted, said talent is absorbed by the next team up the ladder.

    Soccer/Futbol, with it’s varied ownership between MLS/USL/NASL could work in the USA.

  2. I was attempting to avoid some minutia but was trying to imply exactly that. The current ownership structure would have to be blown up and allow stand-alone ownership of the new organizations without any player rights ties between the two leagues.

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