The King’s Request Is Denied

LeBron James said the person who came up with the new wild-card format “should be fired.”

Well, the Washington Post caught up with the “play-in guy.” His name is Evan Wasch — and, by the way, he won’t be fired. 

He defended his support for an idea that’s supposedly been tossed around for over a decade. 

“You’ve significantly increased the competitive incentive in a much wider swath of the standings [for teams] to want to move up,” Wasch said. “The intent is to give more [teams and fans] the feeling that they still have something to play for.”

Wasch called it “successful” for several different reasons:

  • Ratings were up 25% in April compared to March
  • Teams forced to play rather than bench players and tank (i.e. Steph Curry)
  • High seeds on the cusp play harder to avoid a play-in spot (Lakers, Mavericks)

LeBron may have had the most powerful statement, but Mavs point guard Luka Doncic and team owner Mark Cuban both opposed the idea, too. 

The backlash from some players is somewhat justified, but the reward is overpowering: The league generates more money, and the regular season is more interesting. 

The NBA will conduct a vote this offseason for the play-in games that will include the Board of Governors, NBPA, teams, and television networks.