Face it: last season's NBA Finals was a dud. The only thing weaker than the ratings (a record-low 6.2) was the suspense (zero). Maybe Lakers vs. Celtics will change that. Maybe not. How could we spice it up, though?
How do you make 'em better?
1. VLADIMIR RADMANOVIC, LAKERS
"First of all, we should start with how we choose the playoff teams. It shouldn't be East vs. Wes; I'd just let in the best 16 teams, wherever they're from. That would improve the quality of play in the postseason in general and the Finals in particular. This year, a 48-win team in the West didn't make the playoffs, while a 37-win team in the East did. You work hard, you finally build a great team, and you have to sit out? What the hell?"
2. DELONTE WEST, CAVALIERS
"Good point. But, you could also scatter around the top teams, regardless of division. You know, like the NCAA Tournament. I think we could work it out. That would make the Finals more competitive and more interesting."
3. DEREK FISHER, LAKERS
"And maybe we should make the Finals single elimination. In recent years, I think people have gotten tired of watching the same matchup five to seven times. I think there's a cachet, an intrigue, to one and done. The Final Four, the Super Bowl, the Masters - they happen over ONE weekend and that's it.
4. ANDREI KIRILENKO, JAZZ
"Derek's right: Forget the seven-game Finals format; you need to make it only one game. A seven-game series favors the stronger team, but in one game, anything can happen. That's exciting."
5. RON ARTEST, KINGS
"One game? Wow, that would be intense. But why stop there? Maybe we need to focus more on a great halftime to liven it up. The Super Bowl has big-name performers. We can too. Or they can just have me perform at halftime. Yea, that'd be the best thing to do."
6. MATT HARPRING, JAZZ
"Our halftimes aren't as long as the one they have at the Super Bowl. But we could lengthen halftime so we could add different acts, like light shows and fireworks. James Cameron would be a great choice to direct it."
7. LAMAR ODOM, LAKERS
"Yea, having a high-profile artistic adviser would work. But, what about having the game someplace cool every year? Miami, New York, LA, even Vegas - it'd be a heck of a party."
8. P.J. BROWN, CELTICS
"I don't know about Vegas, but a neutral site would be interesting. It would make the Finals huge, and it would definitely make this time of year interesting."
9. QUENTIN RICHARDSON, KNICKS
"Nah, I don't think you should lose the home-court advantage; that's what you play the season for. The fans of the teams that get to the Finals deserve to see it. The only thing I'd change is the schedule. Games should be played every other day, not with two or three days in between."
10. DEREK FISHER, LAKERS
"Now that I think about it, all this talk about neutral sites and a one-game Finals is NOT where it's at. Think about the NBA's rich history, like the great series in the 1980s between the Lakers and Celtics. It's hard to turn away from that. Those were seven-game series, and that's some of the best basketball ever played. It's hard to argue that you don't want to see Kurt Rambis and Kevin McHale knocking each other around for seven straight games. Today, it'd be great to see Kobe and LeBron, or Shaq and Rasheed give it their best for seven games. That would be must-see TV."
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