Wednesday, May 18, 2005Rhoden: Fix the NBA Lottery
Bill Rhoden of the New York Times thinks the NBA has a serious image problem and its possible that revisiting the "frozen envelope" theory of the 1984 lottery might not be a bad idea.
[Joe] Dumars and Isiah Thomas were stars of the Detroit teams in the 1980's that had to go through star-studded Boston and Los Angeles. That was a large part of the N.B.A. drama. "For guys in Detroit to go beat teams like L.A., Boston, that was special," Dumars said. "That you beat Los Angeles in the finals, or that you beat Boston in the conference finals to get there, that was an added bonus."
Now things are flipped: the large market teams are chasing the small and medium market teams. Detroit crushing Indiana's little engine doesn't have the same resonance as the Pistons going after the Lakers or the Celtics. Look at the Pistons' next likely series. Miami, suddenly energized by the presence of Shaquille O'Neal and the rise of the phenomenal Dwyane Wade, is compelling.
The trade that sent O'Neal from Los Angeles to Miami instantly changed the Heat from a veritable little engine into a diesel. The N.B.A. is enhanced by having Shaq in Miami, just as the league was tremendously enhanced in 1996 when Shaq decided, or was persuaded, to leave Orlando and play for the Lakers.
Would it be so bad for the league to have LeBron James in New York rather than his wasting away in Cleveland? Of course not.
There is some danger in this thinking, but let's be honest, the league is definitely missing the star factor right now. Kobe's Lakers died, T-Mac's Rockets were eliminated. I think we all are loving Dwyane Wade but Shaq is still Miami's draw.
I don't see the "frozen envelope" coming into play with this draft. But let's monitor the free agent movement over the next few years. Where will guys like LeBron, Carmelo, Chris Bosh and others play during the prime of their careers. I don't think Cleveland, Denver and Toronto will be the right answer.
NBA Needs Another Frozen Envelope [NYT]