Three cheers for whoever runs the Portland Trail Blazers’ social media operation for this tweet:
Is it too late to join the Eastern Conference? Asking for a friend. — Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) December 4, 2013
The joke, for those of you who aren’t NBA regular-season addicts, is that the Eastern Conference is full of garbage teams. My Washington Wizards are currently in third place in the East with a 9–9 record. There are 10 teams in the Western Conference with a better record than that, followed by two 9–9 teams. It’s totally ridiculous.
I’ve seen a few people casting around for ideas to either reform the way the playoffs work or somehow otherwise deal with the situation. But as best I can tell, the only way to fix the persistent—and worsening—imbalance in the conferences is to totally ditch the basic structure of North American sports and move to a promotion-relegation system like they use in Europe. In the short term, obviously, the decisive factor in team success is the quality of the players. But in the longer team, the decisive quality in team success is the quality of the owners and managers. The East is just jam-packed with owners who are really good at squandering financial resources (Knicks, Nets) or top draft talent (Orlando, Cleveland), and there’s no way to fix that.