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American basketball is broken. I know how to fix it.
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American basketball is broken. I know how to fix it.

The modern, noncompetitive, woke NBA is a byproduct of globalism. Now more than ever, pro basketball needs a revolutionary war.

Adam Silver can’t save the NBA or men’s basketball. It’s dead.

Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game was just the latest in a decades-long series of obituaries detailing the tragic passing of American hoops. Despite a promise to deliver a more competitive All-Star Game, Sunday’s contest may have been the worst in history. In a game that featured 168 three-point attempts, the East beat the West 211-186.

Twenty years ago, the NHL locked out its players for an entire season and radically changed its pay system. The NBA needs a similar fix.

No one tried. No one competed. The players sauntered up and down the court, jacked up threes, and moved out of the way as players dunked. The fans in the stands spent more time gossiping than cheering. One of the players said the highlight of the night was a group of entertainers dunking with the help of trampolines between the third and fourth quarters.

The truth is, NBA All-Star Weekend peaked on Thursday, when football legend turned podcaster Shannon Sharpe and comedian Mike Epps settled their beef.

An anti-American culture

Men’s basketball is dead. Silver cannot resuscitate what his predecessor, Commissioner David Stern, killed.

Yes, David Stern killed American basketball. At the behest of Nike, Stern focused the game on international growth in general and pleasing China in particular.

The modern, noncompetitive, woke NBA is a byproduct of globalism. In pursuit of more and more money, the NBA scrapped its American identity and values. It turned itself into a platform for the expression of anti-American sentiment, entitlement, victimhood, and narrative over authenticity.

The NBA’s marketing strategy the past two decades has been: “Tune in to watch LeBron James and other tall black men overcome racism they never experienced.”

The marketing is not just a turn-off to conservative sports fans. No. It’s much worse than that. It convinces the players they’re victims. It creates a sense of entitlement among the alleged competitors.

How do you go from Michael Jordan playing all 82 regular-season games in nine of his 15 seasons to having to beg players to play 65? You create an anti-American culture that seduces multimillionaires into believing they’re victims of racist capitalists.

Contempt for fans

The NBA’s desire to be popular in China baited the league into embracing messaging that denigrates American culture. The Chinese Communist Party, no different from Cold War communism, loves to promote that America is a bastion for anti-black racism.

Every time LeBron James claims American black men are hunted like animals, his popularity in China soars and his attitude toward American sports fans diminishes. No American sports league has a more hostile relationship with its fan base than the NBA.

The players routinely beef with fans. The players instruct security to toss fans from the arena. Michael Jordan felt a duty to serve and entertain fans. Modern players struggle to tolerate fans.

The players are elites. They look down on the very people who love them. The players believe the fans owe them.

Adam Silver can’t fix this. His best efforts are failing. The in-season tournament to start the basketball calendar failed. It was a gimmick. The Lakers won it. They’re the ninth-best team in the West.

The expanded playoffs and play-in games have rendered the regular season pointless. Seven-game series make it nearly impossible for a lower seed to pull off an upset.

Pay for victories

The NBA is a gossip and narrative league. The greatest competition is among individual-player groupies for Jordan, LeBron, and Kobe and a never-ending argument about their standing in the all-time great debate.

The only way to fix American basketball is to shut down the NBA for a year or two and force a new system and pay structure on the players. Twenty years ago, the NHL locked out its players for an entire season and radically changed its pay system. The NBA needs a similar fix.

The league needs to work toward attaching a significant portion of pay to wins and losses. To avoid players stacking rosters, each roster spot would have a specific value of one to 15, and the highest-valued player would earn more per win than the players ranked below him on the roster.

For example: LeBron might be ranked No. 1 on the Lakers and Anthony Davis No. 2. LeBron might earn $200,000 per victory. And Davis would earn $175,000.

The other major adjustment the league should make is raising players’ minimum age to 21. Because of name, image, and likeness, college players can now earn significant money. It would be much better for professional basketball if the players stayed in college three or four years and brought established brands to the NBA.

The NBA needs a revolutionary war and makeover. Adam Silver is not the right leader for this war. He’s a peacetime consigliere. He’s not built for the kind of upheaval necessary to fix the NBA.

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Jason Whitlock

Jason Whitlock

BlazeTV Host

Jason Whitlock is the host of “Fearless with Jason Whitlock” and a columnist for Blaze News. As an award-winning journalist, he is proud to challenge the groupthink mandated by elites and explores conversations at the crossroads of culture, faith, sports, and comedy.
@WhitlockJason →