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The Cleveland Cavaliers star didn’t mince words when asked about the NBA potentially using a postseason play-in tournament.
“No, no, no,” James said, via ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “That’s wack. That’s wack. Why? You got to earn your spot to be in the postseason. No consolation for finishing last. That’s corny. That’s corny. That’s wack. To play for what? What are they playing for?”
ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported last month the NBA has some “behind-the-scenes momentum” for a play-in tournament that would determine the last two playoff seeds in each conference.
The most-discussed proposal, according to Lowe, features two four-team tournaments featuring the teams ranked No. 7-10 in each conference.
“The seventh seed would host the eighth seed, with the winner of that single game nabbing the seventh spot, sources say,” Lowe wrote. “Meanwhile, the ninth seed would host the 10th seed, with the winner of that game facing the loser of the 7-versus-8 matchup for the final playoff spot.”
James noted this proposed scenario would diminish the importance of the regular season.
“[Make the playoffs by winning the tournament], even if my record is better than yours? Nah, that’s wack,” he said.
The NBA playoffs expanded to its current 16-team format in 1984. The last significant change to the postseason rules came in 2016 when the top eight teams in each conference were seeded based on record, eliminating the guaranteed top-four seed for division winners.