The NBA In-Season Tournament Is A Great Idea | Bonnie-Jill Laflin
Written by: Bonnie-Jill Laflin. Be sure to follow Bonnie on X.
The inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament is a great idea. Who doesn’t love another good reason for drama and intrigue?
As much as players love the game, they also love titles, accomplishments and money. This gives them a chance to obtain accolades and cash, which in turn helps motivate and put them into more competitive situations. Athletes are competitive by nature, but judging from the comments from players, the money certainly doesn’t hurt.
The payouts are no small detail. The Lakers are undefeated so far during the in-season tournament and even LeBron James has mentioned the cash prize being a drive force for his teammates. The champions of the in-season tournament will see all players on the roster each winning $500,000. Even the runner-ups will receive $200,000 each.
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To the mid-level journeyman and veterans, the earnings represent a solid percentage of their yearly pay. This absolutely equals raised stakes for both the players and coaches in these games. The implications extend to who the teams end up playing against to end their season as well. And since the games count as regular season wins and losses, it adds another layer of motivation to win.
What Does The League Get Out Of This?
The league stands to benefit long term if this idea succeeds. Television rights to the tournament and advertising are always a welcome source of revenue. In the future you can expect some large corporation to buy the naming rights to the tournament or the tournament prize. The in-season tournament also comes at a time where many fans are following college football and the NFL closely. NBA viewership during this time is generally at its lowest. This could help bring a larger viewing audience than normally expected this time of year for the NBA. Is the format confusing? It can be, but not to a more global audience that are accustomed to similar setups in soccer. Was the tournament courts idea perfectly thought out? Possibly not, but you have to start somewhere and then adjust from there.
A major aspect of the modern fan is to pour over data and argue minutia with other fans. The format creates opportunities for games with implications, where you’re not only watching your desired game, you’re also keeping an eye on the other teams as well. Fans most certainly will argue over rules like point differentials and how it can change their favorite team’s standings in the tournament. Does it change the priorities from just winning to winning big, and at what cost? Writers will question if coaches will be criticized for keeping their starters in longer to run up the score while in the lead. TV commentators will ask “does the point differentials, change the respect and approach to the game?” Social media forums and Reddit threads will argue the pros and cons. Are the new look Courts and color schemes a fresh step forward or an eye sore? Is the surface slicker than what players are accustomed to? Is it a safety hazard for the players? Fans are given a reason to care, to argue, and to discuss and that’s always a good thing.
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Will there be things to improve? Of course. One thing that should’ve been stronger is the education and media push. Anything new introduced to a consumer tends to need a bit of education around it. If the customer doesn’t understand exactly what it is, they’ll naturally be less interested. For many casual fans, this in season tournament came as a surprise. Some didn’t even know of its existence. Die-hard fans of course need less education but this isn’t the case for the fans that might check in with a game here or there. The casual score checker that doesn’t follow their team or the league very intensely may struggle to understand what exactly this is. Fans that aren’t familiar with similar formats like in soccer can be confused on how the standings are determined. As the tournament progresses and concludes, there will be plenty for the league to learn from, discuss and ultimately improve.
Is It A Hit?
It’s easy to jump in with a hot take if something is a hit or not. The reality is, the world is full of situations that aren’t so black and white. This is the nature of anything new. There are currently more positive feelings than not. But that’s the thing… It’s mainly speculative. Will there be mistakes? Sure. Things to improve on? Absolutely. Why don’t we just sit back, relax and enjoy something new. We’re fortunate to be in a situation as fans, to have the league even try something new. Mistakes will be made, insights for improvement will surface. It’s not a long running tradition. It’s something new. Give it time to grow. Only time will tell if this truly ends up being an innovative new aspect of the NBA or just an idea that faded quickly. At the end of the day, it’s a new wrinkle; a new twist on the status quo. Next year, everyone will likely be arguing the merits of whatever adjustments to the tournament were made, but that’s the process.
It’s a new reason to watch, a new reason for players to care, and perhaps most importantly, a new reason for fans to care. That’s got to be a good thing.
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More About Bonnie-Jill
Bonnie-Jill Laflin is a trailblazing sports broadcaster, TV personality, author and philanthropist. She is the first and only female NBA scout, holding the front office executive position with the Los Angeles Lakers, Bonnie-Jill holds many “firsts” throughout her prolific career. She’s the first woman to dance at a professional level for three teams, in two sports, starting with the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, and moving to the NFL for both the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys. She is the first female to be awarded six championship rings in two professional sports, earning a Super Bowl ring during her time cheering for the 49ers, and five NBA championship rings as an executive for the Lakers. Most recently, Bonnie-Jill adds a new “first” to her repertoire as co-host of the brand-new “Women’s Western Sports Roundup” on the Cowgirl Channel.
Beyond her accomplishments in sports, Bonnie-Jill ventured into the world of broadcasting, bringing her knowledge and enthusiasm to the airwaves, reporting for various high-profile networks, including ESPN, NBA TV, NBC/NBC Sports, NFL Films, Westwood One, CBS, E!, BBC Sports, SiriusXM, NFR Live, and Fox Sports. Most notably a host and ambassador for Michael Jordan’s “Jordan Brand”. Her charismatic personality and deep understanding of the game have made her a sought-after commentator and analyst, enriching the sports-watching experience for countless fans.
Outside of her professional endeavors, Bonnie-Jill is a committed philanthropist and founder of Hounds and Heroes and Horses, a non-profit that pairs rescue dogs as service and therapy dogs with wounded warriors and veterans, as well as rescue horses as equine therapy for our service members and sponsoring retreats. Working to improve the lives of veterans, she has traveled to military bases across the country and abroad on 19 USO tours, including visits to bases in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Bonnie-Jill resides on her ranch in Ft Worth, TX with her rescued animals.