Why the NHL Postseason Crushes the NBA Playoffs

Steve O Speak

By Guest Blogger Rob Yunich:

With the NHL and NBA playoffs beginning next week, here’s a look at how they compare:

NAMES: The Stanley Cup drips with history, starting with its namesake – Lord Stanley of Preston. The trophy itself dates back to 1892 (making it the oldest among the four major sports) and has the name of every player on every team to every hoist it. Some names are no longer on the physical cup but those artifacts reside at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Players who haven’t won the Cup won’t even touch it until they do. The NBA, however, is the only American professional league that doesn’t have a creative name for their championship round. Baseball has the World Series and football has the Super Bowl. But basketball just has the NBA finals and the Larry O’Brien Trophy, who served as commissioner of the NBA for nine years. How unoriginal.

Advantage: NHL

SCHEDULING:  The pace of the series schedule is pretty consistent with the pace of the games: hockey is faster than basketball. Hockey pretty much plays every other day (with occasional days off thrown in for television purposes). Basketball series, meanwhile, usually take longer to complete (although it’s getting better lately). Plus, for some reason, every NBA playoff game is nationally televised, so that puts a limit on the number of games that can take place in one night. Yes, it would be great to see every NHL playoff game, but it’s worth the sacrifice to keep the current structure.
Advantage: NHL

SEEDING: In hockey, the division champions get the top three seeds in the each conference, and the other five teams are seeded according to their standings points in descending order. The league added a great tiebreaker this year that gives more weight to non-shootout wins. In the NBA, a non-division champ can hold home court over a division winner if they have a better record, which is ridiculous. It pretty much takes away any reason to win your division.
Advantage: NHL

FACIAL HAIR:  Hockey has playoff beards. Basketball doesn’t. Case closed.
Advantage: NHL

After every NHL playoff series, every member of both teams (including coaches) line up at center ice and shake hands and/or hug. It’s the best show of sportsmanship in sports and will never be surpassed. The NBA has nothing. Some players will greet some other players but there are no requirements.

Advantage: NHL

As Nick Backay used to say in his “Tale of the Tape” columns, the numbers never lie. The NHL rules and the NBA, well, doesn’t.

*You can read more of Rob Yunich’s work at http://www.stormingthecrease.com/.

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