Backtracking his recent comments of contraction in the NBA, the words of Miami superstar Lebron James should be heard. Clarifying his words on Monday, he made headlines last week speaking of the "water-downed" talent level of the NBA.
James said "Imagine if you could take Kevin Love off Minnesota and add him to another team and you shrink the [league],"
He also added, "Looking at some of the teams that aren't that great, you take Brook Lopez or you take Devin Harris off these teams that aren't that good right now and you add him to a team that could be really good. Not saying let's take New Jersey and let's take Minnesota out of the league. But hey, you guys are not stupid, I'm not stupid, it would be great for the league."
After days of critical reaction from Derek Fisher, the players union, fans and owners James was forced to explain his words. "That's crazy, because I had no idea what the word 'contraction' meant before I saw it on the Internet,"
James said after the Miami Heat's practice Monday. "I never even mentioned that. That word never even came out of my mouth. I was just saying how the league was back in the '80s and how it could be good again. I never said, 'Let's take some of the teams out.' "
When the leagues most powerful player speaks, the NBA should listen. Unlike the NFL, professional basketball is very inconsistent in providing competitive games, and the separation of talent between the elite and bad teams is evident.
Many franchises boast poor attendance, un-entertaining play, and young rosters primed to be plucked by league powers.
The questionable additions of Vancouver, Charlotte and Toronto has brought the league to the current total of thirty NBA teams. In contrast to other professional leagues, sixteen of thirty teams qualify for the playoffs.
The concept of contraction and a reduction of playoff squads would suit the league best in the long run.
Possibly reducing the league size to twenty-six teams and only allowing twelve squads to qualify for the post-season. Reward the league's best teams with first-round byes.
Piggy-backing off James' original words, remove the NBA from Memphis, New Orleans, Minnesota, and Toronto.
Both the Grizzlies and Raptors have failed to make an impact since arriving in the NBA.
Other then the Kevin Garnett era, the Timberwolves could be considered a franchise bust.
Originally playing in Charlotte, the Hornets are broke and have long been rumored to be on the move.
Cases for contraction could also be made for the Los Angeles Clippers, New Jersey Nets, Charlotte Bobcats and Sacramento Kings.
Take a look at the talented players from these four franchises.
Point guard Chris Paul is widely considered the best point guard in the NBA.
In his seventh year out of Xavier, forward David West has career averages of 16.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.
All under the age of 25, the Grizzlies young talent includes Rudy Gay, O.J. Mayo, and Mike Conley.
It is certain that James' believes the play of Kevin Love often goes unnoticed. Love, power forward Michael Beasley, and Corey Brewer are all under the age of 25 playing in Minnesota.
The last of a bad Canadian experiment, it's hard to find players that want to play in Toronto. A former first overall selection, Andrea Bargnani is finally blossoming into a respected NBA player.
Others include Emeka Okufar, Zach Randolph, Jose Calderon, and Reggie Evans.
It seems that many franchises only provide a stage for young talent to develop until they leave following their rookie contracts.
Unlike major league baseball, the presence of a salary cap would provide balance and parity rather then New York Yankee type spending sprees.
Other then Boston, Miami, and Los Angeles, no other team can currently claim to the services of three or more superstars.
Already quality teams, imagine if San Antonio, Chicago or Dallas could add the services of Love, Paul or Beasley?
The process of contraction would be a painful event. Cities, communities, and fan bases would be devastated. People would lose their jobs, and stadiums would become empty.
The long-term results would be beautiful. Better games on national television, more competitive games, and entertaining playoff races during the end of the season.
While James has been forced to eat his words, the concept of his thoughts should be noticed.
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