BallerBall readers, can we be real for a second? I know Commissioner David Stern is supposed to be impartial when it comes to which teams win and lose in the NBA. But make no mistake, when the Heat popped their champagne after last night’s win, the Commish lit up a celebratory stogie. He stood out on his balcony in New York City like a Jewish Denny Crane and thanked God for his infinite mercy.
We almost had a Pacers-Spurs final.
There is no way to spin it. Pacers versus Spurs would have been an unmitigated ratings disaster for the league. The games would have struggled to garner more viewers for ABC than Splash or Wipeout. Low ratings means low ad revenue next season. Low ad revenue means the league would start putting brand names like Wal-Mart on the front of players’ jerseys to make up the difference. It also means deputy commissioner would have to change his name to Adam Pewter when he takes over next year. Nobody wants either of those things.
It’s not that the Spurs or Pacers are bad teams. Their matchup would have pitted the league’s best defense in Indiana against one of its best offenses in San Antonio. But viewers don’t tune in for offensive or defensive efficiency. They tune in for sexy. The Spurs and Pacers have no sexy whatsoever. (For the purposes of this article, sexy is defined as entertainment value, like comedian Louis Anderson “diving” of a platform, not whatever Tony Parker does to appeal to women.) Don’t get me wrong, I love Roy Hibbert on Parks and Recreation and #LetBonnerShoot as much as the next guy, but audiences don’t agree with me. Plus can you imagine a worse color scheme? Black, white, gray, and really dehydrated urine-yellow. Not exactly HD friendly.
In a secret Disney Company memo obtained by BallerBall, the company outlined its contingency plan for Spurs-Pacers. Here are the bullet points:
- Instead of broadcasting on ABC in Primetime, the NBA Finals will be relegated to ABC Family. Viewers who write in to complain about missing episode of Bunheads or The Secret Life of the American Teenager will be given gift certificates to the Olive Garden.
- To cut costs, the normal Studio Team of Magic Johnson, Michael Wilbon, Bill Simmons, and Jalen Rose will be replaced by Dan Le Batard, Dan Le Batard’s father, Woody Paige, and Mickey Mouse. Due to copyright issues, Mickey won’t be allowed to speak, but he will be permitted to wave as much as he likes.
- To fill the newly vacant airtime on ABC, the network will show reruns of Last Resort, a truly underrated show that never really found an audience.
Everyone in America can consider themselves lucky Disney’s plan didn’t have to be put into action.
The most impressive thing about this averted crisis is how cool Commissioner Stern played it for Game 7. Had I been in his shoes I would have taken drastic measures to ensure the Heat won Game 7. First off, I would have sent Joey Crawford to South Beach. His referee partners for the game would have been Pitbull and Dan Marino. Next, in addition to white T-shirts, I would have made sure the Heat supplied all their fans with laser pointers to shine on the Pacers while they shot free throws. Then I would have switched out Lance Stephenson’s pre-game mix tape of New York-area rap out for some Hank Williams Jr. And finally I would have erased whatever head coach Frank Vogel had written on the dry erase board in the locker room and replaced it with, “Verticality is Overrated” in big block letters. But David Stern is a better man than I. All he had to do was sit back, cut his cigar, and wait for the Heat to do their thing. Oh and fly out Kobe’s German doctor for pregame session with Wade.
In my heart of hearts, I believe David Stern can blow smoke rings that look like the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Enjoy that cigar, Mr. Stern. You earned it.