Team USA won a game! After losing two exhibition games in a row - the first time since 1992 and NBA players joining Team USA - Argentina had the misfortune of being next on the schedule. KD swished a three on the first possession, announcing the team came out with serious intentions. 40 minutes of game time later, the scoreboard showed 108 - 80.
Despite the fact the infamous "losing streak" has been stopped, a bigger problem remains. The physicality of the international game is on a different level, or more precisely, the refs don't treat players like divas. And they're acting like it.
Throughout the games, multiple players, from Jayson Tatum to Bradley Beal, have been staring down the officials following no-calls as they’re accustomed to receiving touch fouls or star-treatment officiating in the NBA. ... In the first half on Monday, Tatum was called for an offensive foul on a drive when he slightly nudged the defender aside with his right hand to create separation. It was a move that’s consistently ignored in the NBA.
The NBA product has been deteriorating for years, proven by the consistent drop in TV ratings. In addition to the fact a 48-minute game takes over 2 hours and has an ungodly amount of unnecessary stoppages in play, the league has gone soft. I'm not talking about the machismo aspect of guys not willing to slug it out. After the boring 2000s and 79 -74 games, the NBA started to open the game up and protect the offense. As always, unintended consequences happened, and more problematically, they have not been addressed.
This created a generation of players that aren't only used to getting treated like an ancient porcelain vase in the Louvre, but the constant praise of the "whatever it takes to win" mentality empowered players to develop the worst of foul baiting habits. (See James Harden, Chris Paul, Trae Young.) They stopped playing basketball and started hurting the analytical darling - the free throw.
If you ask the NBA about the horrible rating drop, they will counter with the strength the NBA has on social media. Reddit, Twitter, Instagram; one would think that if they're so in tune with social media, the folks at the League Office would scroll down and read a few comments. They may even find their own players openly calling out the league.
Props to Dudley for speaking the truth. We all see it, we all know what the solutions are, but the NBA isn't doing anything about it. For all the praise Adam Silver deservedly got in the first few years of his tenure, that social credit is almost spent. Listen to any NBA podcast hosted by respected insiders and reporters long enough, and you'll hear comments about the power of the NBA PR department - they are very sensitive about their public image.
So maybe, and I'm spitballing here, instead of wasting energy on spinning facts, do something to change the cause of the criticism? The NBA needs to wake up and smell the roses. The ratings aren't dropping just because people are watching Netflix and playing Fortnite. Start working with refs, put your foot down and tell players they won't get every call and for the love of God, stop cramming in commercials in every available moment and free area of the screen. Improving the referee review system wouldn't hurt as well.
The NBA still has all the best players, but I find myself enjoying Euroleague games more - from the broadcast to the game itself. It shouldn't be like that. As Dudley said it, change "has to start from the Top."
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