|Does this look like a division champion to you?|
THE NBA NEEDS TO GET RID OF THIS SIX DIVISION FORMAT!
I'm 38 years old, and back in my day (the 1980s, 1990s) most of our sports operated in the classic four division format. Major League Baseball had the AL and NL East and West. The NHL had the Adams, Patrick, Norris and Smythe Divisions. The NBA had the Atlantic, Central, Midwest and Pacific Divisions. The NFL, due to the nature of their schedule, had six divisions of the AFC and NFC East, Central and West.
Since then, all four major sports expanded their division formats. MLB added a Central Division in each league. The NHL and NBA expanded to six geographical divisions. The NFL went to a North, South, East and West divisions in each conference.
At the time, it was sold because each league greatly expanded (MLB expanded from 26 to 30 in the 1990s; NFL expanded from 28 to 32 from 1995 to 2002; NHL expanded from 21 to 30 from 1991 to 2000; the NBA expanded from 23 to 30 teams from 1988 to 2004) and that ... well, we'd get more fuzzy titles like Division Champions!
Turns out that only the number of teams make sense. Sure, in the MLB and NFL, winning a division is important because there are just a few playoff spots available (MLB has all six division winners and four wildcard teams make the playoffs; NFL has all eight division winners and four wildcard spots). In the NHL and NBA, it hasn't mattered. A division title does get you into the playoffs, but usually you would've qualified for a division title even if you weren't in a division.
Even this year, where the Atlantic Division leading Boston Celtics are a woeful 9-12, they'd still be the 8th seed if there was no divisional format.
That's why this is getting ridiculous.
In the NBA, unlike all the other sports, there is no weighted schedule for divisions. If you are the Pacific Division Lakers, you'll play virtually the same schedule as the Southwest Division Pelicans. In the NHL, NFL and MLB you play your division foes at a much higher pace than any other team. In the NBA, the Celtics will play the Knicks as much as they'll play the Bucks. Go to most websites and their standings are ranked according to conference (which the NBA seeds the playoffs) instead of divisions.
The divisions are pointless. Right now if things continue the way they are, the mighty Boston Celtics could hang a banner saying their 35-47 Celtics were 2014 Atlantic Division Champions.
Even the NHL realized this. This season, the NHL scaled back their divisions from six to four and their standings look a lot better. Imagine if the NBA scaled back to two divisions or, what I'd like, just have those two conference standings. Again, the NBA seeds their playoffs according to the conference standings (for the most part) so the divisions are nothing more than window dressing.