LeBron James on Idea of NBA Play-in Tournament: ‘That’s Corny. That’s Wack’

CLEVELAND, OH - MARCH 19: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers handles the ball against the Milwaukee Bucks on March 19, 2018 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)

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LeBron James doesn’t want to see the NBA adopt a playoff structure similar to what the NCAA tournament currently has.

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.