Basketball returns! The altered reality of a post-strike season.

Merry Christmas, NBA fans.  Your season begins on December 25.  It’s time to dismount your moral high horse and get back to cheering for millionaire players and billionaire owners.

They’ll go ahead with a 60-game season instead of the usual 82, but will still subject fans to their 82,000-game playoff tournament in which every team but the Los Angeles Clippers will qualify.

Shortened seasons can leave fans wondering about what could have happened had mommy and daddy not been fighting over money when they could have been fighting over a ball.  I had hoped to blow your mind with a “what if” version of the 2010-11 playoffs with the Golden State Warriors edging out the Pacers in the final.  I figured that the only way for the season to be taken seriously would be to switch to an “NBA Jam” (or “NBA Street”) version of the season where players go 2-on-2, have giant heads and “catch fire” after making 3 consecutive shots.

Unfortunately for my hypothesis, I checked the numbers and learned this: Aside from minor seeding differences, ALL division winners and playoff qualifiers from 2010-11 would be completely unchanged if last year’s season ended at 60 games instead of 82.  This only furthers the “NBA regular season doesn’t matter” argument.

Let’s look at how some other sports have handled their domestic disputes:

FOOTBALL

In 1982 the NFL’s 9-game strike-shortened season ended with a 16-team tournament (there were 27 teams at the time) that ended with the 8-1 Redskins beating the 8-1 Dolphins in Semi-Super Bowl XVII.

This year of course, the NFL players and owners played chicken all summer, then gave fans a big, fat “you’re welcome” for making their lives matter again.  Football “came back” promising more pizzazz and bullshit than ever.

BASEBALL

The 1981 Major League Baseball season was interrupted by a mid-season strike that inspired the interesting decision to divide the season into two halves, with the 1st and 2nd half division leaders qualifying for the playoffs instead of going by overall standings at the end of the season.  This allowed the 50-53 Kansas City Royals in over the 57-48 Texas Rangers, and eventually put 3rd place New York Yankees into the World Series.

MLB’s 1994 season ended with the ultimate “Oopsie Daisy” when the season was cancelled just 2/3 of the way through and we all missed what would likely be another thrilling New York Yankee World Series championship, possibly over the 1st place Montreal Expos.

HOCKEY

Then in 1994, the NHL season was cut in half, followed by the annual Stanley Cup Tournament in which teams actually have to make an effort not to qualify.

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Filed under Everything You Know Is Wrong, Jones

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