“Being Completely Honest, Nobody Cares About That” | Marcus Smart On The New In-Season Tournament

The 2023-24 NBA season marks the debut of the in-season tournament, commissioner Adam Silver’s years in the making project to generate more interest in the regular season. As with most new things it will take time to catch on, and you can count Memphis Grizzlies guard Marcus Smart as someone that already isn’t a fan.

“Being completely honest, nobody cares about [winning in-season tournament], it’s the big one that we care about,” Smart said. “I have mixed feelings on it, but it’s great to be able to play more basketball, and I think that’s more of it, just those more games for the fans.” 

The NBA Can Learn From European Football

Silver, a fan of European football, wanted to implement a tournament that would give teams an additional chance at winning a trophy.

Like the the WNBA’s Commissioner Cup, some games on the schedule will count toward the tournament standings. After the group stage, in which each team will play the other teams in their groups once, there will be a knockout round. The winner from each group plus two “wild card” teams will advance to the knockout stage, which will be single elimination. It all culminates in the semifinals and final, both of which will take place in Las Vegas. The winning team will split $500,000 amongst all of the players, while the teams that advance to the knockout stage will all receive varying pots of money to split.

The money is what it is. In order for this tournament to succeed it will need player buy-in.

The play-in tournament was widely mocked by players at its implementation. Most notably by the NBA’s leading player LeBron James. Though Bron has benefited from the new rules which allowed his Los Angeles Lakers to advance to the playoffs two out of the past three seasons.

Give It Time

The reason in-season tournaments are so successful in European football are their history, and the players place a lot of importance on it.

What makes being a fan of a European football team exciting, is you have multiple opportunities to win titles/trophies. Winning your league, winning one of your league’s domestic cups, and the UEFA Champions League.

Of course there are levels and Champions League and winning your league title are paramount. But winning a domestic cup has value too.

In the NBA we know nothing will ever be as important as winning the NBA Finals and that’s fine, it has history.

Winning the regular season and eventually, if the league continues to iterate, the in-season tournament will have some value as well.

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