With NBA award discussion ramping up over the past few weeks, the league’s creation of an NBA Awards show is under fire. The show will be televised on June 26, and some fans are not happy. Is it a good idea?
Tyler Keating: Delaying the announcement of the Most Valuable Player until after the playoffs end is the only truly egregious choice made by the NBA in planning this awards show. Other than that, the awards show is a potentially exciting idea that could add another must-watch event to the NBA’s yearly schedule. With a date of June 26, the show will stay close to both the conclusion of the NBA Finals and the NBA Draft, while also having a few days to itself to build up hype. The NFL Honors show is generally fun, and the NBA Awards show has a chance to be even more fun, given the league’s culture. Basketball fans will devote a night to watching the result of bouncing ping-pong balls, so why not watch awards be handed out? Should the league develop this ceremony correctly, maybe one day everyone will be sitting by the television awaiting the MVP announcement like it’s Best Picture at the Oscars. I know I would love to see Russell Westbrook’s face as James Harden’s name is announced.
Shahan Kamal: As much as I understand the logic behind the change, I don't think this idea makes sense from the fan standpoint. One issue with this idea is that it will make the awards seem as though the votes include the playoffs. That won't make a ton of sense to people if, for example, Westbrook loses in the first round of the playoffs but gets the MVP crown. We'll have had to wait for more than two months to find out who the regular season award winners are. Not only that, we'll even know the Finals MVP and NBA champions before we know who won anything else.
At least in the NFL, they announce their awards before the Super Bowl. It isn't the most sensible option, but it's better than what the NBA is putting together. The old system of announcing the awards throughout the playoffs was exciting because the players could get recognized for their awards at their home stadiums in front of their fans. Additionally, the players won't get the sole recognition of their award anymore. Each acceptance speech will be less special because all of them will be at once. Now we might see someone walk onto stage to accept an award after not having played basketball in two months.
Keating: It’s definitely disappointing for the home fans that they won’t be able to immediately celebrate the award won by their hometown player, but the teams will find a way. They can hold a brief ceremony at the home opener of the next season, for one. I do think that this particular year’s MVP race has skewed opinions on this awards show, even if no one wants to admit it. It’s extremely rare to have a three-horse race, with the two frontrunners meeting in the first round of the playoffs. It’s also rare for the leading candidate (Westbrook) to play for a team without a real chance to win the finals. If this show was put into place last year, when Steph Curry was a shoo-in to win the award, we wouldn’t be complaining that we have to wait so long for a decision. Imagine this: the award show is implemented last year, Curry wins the MVP and goes on stage to accept it just days after blowing a three games-to-one lead in the finals. Now we’re opening up real opportunities to make some memes, and no one is complaining about the award show.
Kamal: While I do agree that the scenario you're proposing is hilarious, you can't deny that the lead up to the finals last year was that much better because Curry was MVP. The epic task at hand for LeBron James was to take on the winningest team in NBA history and the first-ever unanimous MVP to try to bring a title to Cleveland. It's hard to deny that storyline because it brought so much more hype to the finals. Ironically enough, Curry did say recently in an interview that it sucks to have to wait so long to hear who wins the MVP award this year. Knowing that neither of the two main favorites for the MVP award is expected to make the finals, it will be strange for them to receive the award and not have anything to play for in the playoffs after getting it.
Not to mention, possibly the biggest issue with the awards show idea is that NFL Honors always airs on television on a one-hour delay. By the time the broadcast has started, all of the award winners are already named and and it's all over social media. If that's the case with the NBA's awards show, then they'll have effectively made most fans wait two months after the regular season to find out by an ESPN notification or a tweet. It's a dangerous risk that has lost the NFL Honors show a lot of its luster over the years.