How Adam Silver blew it with the in-season tournament

NBA commissioner Adam Silver during Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
NBA commissioner Adam Silver during Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Pistons and the rest of the NBA will play in the inaugural in-season tournament next year, which was the brainchild of commissioner Adam Silver.

The announcement was met with a “meh” reaction from fans, especially when they saw that the winner of the tournament is just rewarded in extra money. This will be great for all of those NBA players who are struggling to put food on the table with the generational wealth represented by their salaries.

Silver has long said that he wants the NBA to be more like English and European football, which have in-season tournaments that are very popular and have long been high points of the season for some fans.

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It’s a great idea in theory, as the NBA regular season could use some extra spice, reasons for teams to try hard and reasons for fans to watch.

Unfortunately, Silver missed the things about the English and European tournaments that make them fun and special, which is why this NBA in-season tournament idea is going to need some changes if it ever wants that kind of hype.

Detroit Pistons: The NBA in-season tournament is boring

The big problem with the NBA in-season tournament is that there is literally nothing at stake except for extra money for the players. These are essentially just regular season games, though Silver did say that teams might wear different uniforms (Ooh boy!) and play on different courts, which just sounds like a way to sell more merchandise than anything fans will care about:

Other than the fans that obsess over uniforms, why would anyone care about this? It’s just more money for the league with little to offer the fans.

The two big tournaments on this side of the pond (I live in Europe) are the FA Cup and the Champions League, both which have huge differences that make them more interesting.

The FA Cup is an in-season tournament for the English football league and includes teams from the Premier League through level nine, so you might see Liverpool or Manchester United taking on teams like Morpeth Town, whose stadium holds 1,000 fans.

What makes it fun is that these lower level teams have a chance to be “giant killers” and just about every year one or more teams from the lower leagues gets a win. It’s a knockout format, so much like the NCAA tournament, an underdog can get hot and go on a run.

The NBA could have adopted this format by adding G-League teams, Overtime Elite and other lower-level basketball leagues from around the States. Who wouldn’t want to see the Lakers take on the Motor City Cruise? It adds an element that is missing from the current format.

The Champions League includes the national champions from all of the major leagues around Europe, so once again, has an element that the NBA tournament is lacking. This is another idea they could have adopted by making a tournament featuring the winners of some of the top European leagues, which now happen to be very good.

This would give fans a chance to see some of the top European players (many of whom end up in the NBA) and would be far more entertaining than just some regular season games in new uniforms that you are calling a tournament.

The idea was a good one in theory but it lacks the elements that make the FA Cup and Champions League interesting, which is why you don’t see fans getting hyped about it. At least it will give teams like the Detroit Pistons a chance to win something outside of the playoffs, but other than that, there isn’t much to get excited about.

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