ESPN host Michael Wilbon isn’t a fan of the NBA’s maiden In-Season tournament and has given his candid thoughts on it.
The host of Pardon the Interruption said on Friday’s show that players shouldn’t need the extra motivation to compete early on in the regular season.
“I’ll give you a couple of reasons,” Wilbon told co-host Frank Isola. “It’s already supposed to count, Frank. It’s a game on the schedule. These aren’t separate games. It’s a game on the schedule you’re paying good money to see. Players are being paid to play these, and now you’re telling me, ‘I’m gonna assign something else.’
“Speaking of our obsession with analytical junk, so I’m gonna assign something phony to it, let the marketing people run my league. The marketing people are gonna say to you, ‘Go watch this game, we’re gonna assign it an extra value, so then we can give people orange slices and trophies at the end of it.’
“If it’s supposed to matter, Frank, let it matter… Let’s convince all you dopes that these games are special. No, it’s a Wednesday night in Milwaukee. That’s what it is.”
The host also noted that the great Michael Jordan didn’t need added motivation to compete at the highest level during the regular season.
“He didn’t need a phony cup,” Wilbon said. “He didn’t need a theft from soccer. This is to satisfy all the under-40 soccer heads…Frank, I know it’s gonna work. I didn’t say it wasn’t smart. It is smart. It’s a straight lift, so it can get a whole generation of kids that might go, ‘Ehh, I don’t know, I’m watching [the] Champions League.’ They’re gonna pull some of those kids away. It’ll work.
“It’s a marketing ploy. That’s all it is. It may be genius. I’m cynical. I’m like, stop it. Don’t try to tell me it means something additional, ’cause it doesn’t.”
Wilbon isn’t alone in his view, with many fans not quite understanding the point of the In-Season Tournament, except as a marketing move by the league.
Many teams have got wildly colourful and (frankly unnecessary) specially designed courts for the games that began on Friday and will culminate in a championship game in Las Vegas on December 9.
Each NBA team plays in four pool games before one from each conference advances to the knockout round.
The players of the winning team will reportedly receive $500,000, the runner-up $200,000, semifinalists $100,000, and quarterfinalists will $50,000, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The prize pool structure for head coaches will work similarly to the players, while “Assistant coaches will share an additional pool of money that’ll comprise 75% of the winning coach’s total.”