Outside of football I don’t think there is a sport that has a super meaningful regular season. Unless they reduce games not sure how you change things much. I don’t think the offseason or transaction stuff has hurt the game’s popularity… I think for some it’s annoying with all the trade chatter and draft projections etc. I just think it’s an off shoot and the games are as important as they have ever been. Some load management aside… even that has a great place because if teams are healthy when it matters most it makes the final stage of the product better.
I also think there are a ton of teams that don’t subscribe to championship or bust and they are some of the more boring franchises in the league. Like who’s excited for the Blazers and Wiz this year??? My personal belief is you build towards a title but if it doesn’t look promising you don’t have to scrap it… if you only get a second round team or conference finals team that’s fine… but if it peaks and starts to decline and you don’t have ways to improve it… then scrap it and rebuild… again hoping to have a title team. If you aren’t making progress there will be dissatisfaction among players, fans, etc.
European Football has by far the best system in place. The majority of the games they play, pretty much all the games outside of friendlies, have major implications. But we don't have to open up that rabbit hole.
I think this second part is exactly what I'm saying. Why are the Blazer/Wizards boring? Because it's championship or bust. Nothing else matters. Winning 40 games is meaningless and the worst place you can be, but only if the championship is the only thing that matters. Winning 40 games is infinitely more exciting than winning 20 games if the games mattered, but they don't. We're at a place right now in the NBA where winning in the regular season is pointless for pretty much every team in the NBA. Teams that can actually compete for the title are good enough that they can half *** it and still make it to the playoffs. If you're a team that's in a playoff race or below, you don't matter either because you can't win the title. If you're a tanking team, you have the "idea" of building towards being a title team, but winning is also useless and directly detrimental to the cause. The entire regular season is basically a preseason for the real season, the playoffs. The teams tell you this, the players tell you this, and the media will also tell you this. In an ideal world, winning 40 games would mean something because those games mattered. But we're so far gone in the NBA, the illusion that may have existed before is gone and I think that's a shame. If you're not deep into NBA circles, it would seem bizarre sucking for 3+ years on purpose is a good thing, but because the day to day product means so little compared to the big picture that is the way things are.
It goes beyond just the wins and losses too. It crushes any kind of story line or excitement that's not championship related. I feel like a lot of stories/players get lost because they simply aren't in the championship conversation or part of some drama cycle. I feel like in other sports there is a greater appreciation and enjoyment for how players play and there's less emphasis on whether or not it's sustainable in a championship run. People enjoy the sport and the connection to the city they play for. Like, I think in a different sport people would appreciate Dame and Beal because they are great players (who have also been loyal) more than they would enjoy watching someone like Poku jack up a million shots, but that's just not how the NBA works. The way we view the game in general is just so different. I do statistics for a living, and I love to do this myself, but I also can't deny that it is incredibly lame to talk about things like shooting variance and luck after every game. But that's how we do things now. The W/L does not matter more than how the game fits into the bigger picture.
I don't know if you've attended a RSL game recently, and this is pure personal opinion, but the gameday experience is 100x better than an NBA game. It feels like the game matters. It's important to win that night, even if it's just for pride. Maybe that pride and excitement to win will eventually fade out. We're already seeing it creep into other sports, I think the NBA is just "ahead" of these other leagues because rebuilds can happen so dramatically due to the nature of the sport. A "fix" is difficult and some people will say there is nothing to fix at all, but I do think the league has changed for the worse. I still love the NBA, but damn I miss watching games everyday and feeling like the outcome mattered. In the current NBA, the bigger picture and drama comes first....the sport of basketball comes last. I think it's ****ing awesome that Knicks fans storm the streets when they break .500, but that kind of excitement is very rare in the NBA. I wish we had more of that than the big picture and drama stuff.