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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Six Reasons the NBA Playoffs are Better than the NCAA Tournament

The NBA playoffs will begin in a little more than a month. I realize that the whole country is in the throes of "March Madness"--which can only be cured by engaging in "bracketology"--but here are six reasons that the NBA playoffs are better than the NCAA Tournament:

1) A seven game series is a strategic chess match packed with adjustments and momentum swings.

2) The NBA has the sport's best athletes and coaches by far. As the great Hubie Brown explains, "...this is a game played a foot above the rim, at the top of the box above the rim--because we have the greatest athletes playing at this level (the NBA). Things are erased because of athleticism, shot blocking, defensive quickness and rotation. I want you to understand that. This is not college basketball. This is not FIBA basketball. This is a game called roller ball. It’s played by the greatest athletes and it’s played under complete duress and duress is the key. Now, are you a man enough to play at this level and, more important, to stay at this level? You’ve got to be a tough person and you must have a lot of courage."

3) Teams earn their way into the NBA playoffs by winning; there is no mysterious "committee," no dubious "selection process" and no mythical "bubble."

4) Amazing individual performances: "63 points and you're looking at an all-time record."

5) Great duels: "You are watching what greatness is all about."

6) As Kenny Smith once said, "The regular season is where you make your name. The postseason is where you make your fame." That was true for NBA Pantheon members Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Earvin Johnson, Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elgin Baylor, Jerry West and Julius Erving and it will continue to be true as long as the game is played.

Do you prefer to watch the NBA playoffs or the NCAA Tournament? Post a comment explaining your choice. Also, be sure to click here and read my "Five Reasons the NCAA Tournament is Better than the NBA Playoffs."

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posted by David Friedman @ 1:50 AM



At Sunday, March 16, 2008 1:29:00 PM, Blogger awopbopaloobopalopbamboom said...

I love both of them ! That's just basketball for me. The ballgame is far better during nba playoffs but each competition has his own drama, his own peak.

For all of players who never have such opportunity to play pro basketball, fighting for their final run, that's sounds marvellous to me. 'Cause it could be me ahahah i dream about it ! Each game is a game 7 "win or go home"... except the low shooting percentage. But what a tremendous battle !

At Monday, March 17, 2008 2:16:00 AM, Blogger vednam said...

I prefer the NBA playoffs due to the fun of watching teams adjust over 7-game series. Plus the players are just better.

MJ's 63 points has to be one of the most overrated moments in playoff history. If he didn't go on to have the career he had, people wouldn't like at that game the way they do. It's status is also a product of raw numbers being given too much weight. I wonder how many people know that the Bulls lost that game and got swept in that series, and how little impact that game had on the 1986 playoffs. Honestly, that 63-point game doesn't crack MJ's Top 10 playoff games IMO (and maybe not even Top 20).

Note how Stockton and Heinsohn maintain their cool throughout the performance. That was what was great about the NBA on CBS. The game spoke for itself, without the excessive hype and propping up of individual stars which characterized the NBA on NBC and basically everything that has come after.

At Monday, March 17, 2008 2:18:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey dave, what college did you go to? 'Coz i'm just wondering, being in a college that boasts a basketball team will make one understand better why college ball has its own beauty outside of pro ball. I study in one of the most prestigious universities here in my country and our school competes at the highest college athletic tournament here, and we won the championship last year! And oh, the spirit, the drama-- it was great! I know the competition is better in pro ball, the athletes are better and such-and-such. In short, basketball is better. Even here, I prefer watching our pro local league (the second oldest pro league in the world, next to the NBA) over college ball, but being in my school and being that basketball is my favorite sport, I really get into supporting my college team in the tourney many times.

I even play for my college major's basketball team, and the spirit and the drama of competition there is prevalent, even in that smaller stage.

Basketball is better in the pros (NBA, PBA here), but the spirit of competition in college (NCAA, UAAP and NCAA here) is something different and can't be found anywahere else...

At Monday, March 17, 2008 6:45:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


My college does not have a basketball team but I have long rooted for local college teams like UD and Ohio State; that said, I have always found the pro game to be more interesting and compelling than the college game.

I do understand why some people prefer the college game, which is why I had some fun with the whole issue by taking both sides in these two companion posts; the hint about my true feelings, of course, is that I listed six reasons in favor of the NBA and only five in favor of the NCAA. I could have listed more reasons in both categories but I just wanted to revive some fond memories with the old clips and promote some discussion about this subject.

Also, I had more interest in the NCAA game when players tended to stick around for at least three years. We went through a period when the best players skipped college altogether and even now it is pretty much a one and done scenario. I think that has hurt the college and the pro game but it has hurt the college game more. The pro game received some players who are raw but if they are too raw they just don't play, so fans don't really see them--well, other than Kevin Durant, who is playing simply because his team traded away two All-Stars and is terrible. On the other hand, in college great teams are broken up so there is little continuity from one season to the next, with Florida being the obvious recent exception to that rule. I'd have much rather seen Oden, Conley and Cook in college than the NBA this season and not just because I like Ohio State.

At Monday, March 17, 2008 6:53:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


The Bulls lost that game in double overtime in Boston Garden to the eventual champions; the Celtics were virtually unbeatable in the Garden that season. DJ was a great defensive guard, albeit close to the end of the line by that point. You also have to keep in mind that MJ was coming off of a broken foot and there were questions about whether or not he should even have come back at all that season. He had 49 points in the first game, so to top that with 63 is pretty amazing. Jordan's performance was truly remarkable, even if his team did lose. He set an all-time record, so his performance would have been remembered even if he had not won six titles. In fact, if he had not done so many other things it may have been remembered even more prominently because, as you suggest, MJ later did some other things that may be considered to be even more significant.

What you wrote reminds me of when Pat Riley was an NBC analyst and he wondered why the network kept showing MJ's shot over Craig Ehlo. The Bulls did not even win the championship that season, Riley griped. I understand what Riley and you are saying but I disagree with both of you in these instances.

At Tuesday, March 18, 2008 1:23:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous reggie

everybody know college is not as good as nba basketball so yale arent saying anything there. march madness is better than nba playoffs becasue of the suspense a team like george mason go to final four gonzaga getting to the sweet 16 all those years bucknell beating kansas hampton beating iowa state stuff like that.the gators 06 run when they didnt have a great regualr season. in the nba either shaq or tim duncan will win the ring every year in college you never know the number one seed doest always win.

At Tuesday, March 18, 2008 6:59:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I think that most people who watch the NBA understand that the quality of basketball is higher there than in the NCAA but you'd be surprised how many people will insist with a straight face that the college game is better and that the coaching at that level is more sophisticated.

Upsets in the NCAA Tournament are largely the province of the first two rounds. By the time you get to the Elite Eight and Final Four it is mostly chalk. Each year there might be one "mystery guest" but those rounds are generally populated by teams that were ranked in the top 15-20. One reason that there are more upsets in college is that the best players keep going to the NBA after one season so there is always a lot of turnover. When coaches could build a program over 2-3-4 years that kind of stability made it less likely that a "name" team would lose to a "no-name" team. Now all of the teams are on much more equal footing. Other than a 1 or 2 seed losing in the first round could anything that happens in this year's NCAA Tournament really be considered that shocking? Like I said, it will be largely chalk by the end of the tournament and if you really look at the teams that are seeded between 3-14 most of them have their share of good wins and "bad" losses.


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