INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Fresh off being named MVP of the NBA All-Star Game played in a reimagined format that seemingly reinvigorated the February festivities, LeBron James urged the league to pump the brakes when it comes to potential changes to the playoffs.
“It’s cool to mess around with the All-Star Game — we proved you can do that — but let’s not get too crazy about the playoffs,” James said after Cleveland Cavaliers practice Wednesday. “You have Eastern Conference and you have Western Conference. You have Eastern Conference champions, you have guys from the Eastern Conference that win the big dance and sometimes you have it from the West as well.”
During NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s annual All-Star news conference in Los Angeles over the weekend, Silver revealed he is weighing the merits of adjusting the postseason to the top 16 seeds, regardless of conference, in the hopes of improving the chances of the two best regular-season teams facing off in the NBA Finals.
“You also would like to have a format where your two best teams are ultimately going to meet in the Finals,” Silver said. “You could have a situation where the top two teams in the league are meeting in the conference finals or somewhere else. So we’re going to continue to look at that. It’s still my hope that we’re going to figure out ways.”
James, who has made it to seven straight Finals out of the East with the Cavs and Miami Heat, contended that no change is necessary.
“I would disagree with that,” he said. “I think our league has been built the right way as far as when it comes to the postseason. There’s been dominant conferences throughout time. In the ’80s you had the Lakers who dominated the league at one point, then you had Boston that dominated the league. In the ’90s you had Chicago that dominated the league. San Antonio also had its run. We had our run in the East with Miami; Golden State is having their run.”
In James’ seven straight Finals runs, his team has had a top-two regular-season record just once — in 2013 when the Heat finished with the NBA’s best record at 66-16. Every other year during that stretch his team had somewhere between the seventh-best record in the league overall (2015 Cavs) and the third-best (2011 Heat, 2016 Cavs).
However, in both 2010 and 2009, James’ Cavs finished with the No. 1 record in the regular season and didn’t even make the Finals.
“It just changes the landscape of the history of the game,” James said. “If you start messing with seedings and playoffs and then you start talking about, ‘Well, if this team would have played this Western Conference team, what [if] …'”
James added that roughly half of the championship teams during his career thus far — six out of 14 — have come from the supposedly weaker East.
“I’ve been a part of the Eastern Conference my whole career and we’ve been very, very competitive,” James said. “There’s been years where we weren’t as good. If I can think from once I got into the league, it’s been us, I’ve done it three times, Detroit, Boston, Miami in ’06, that’s like [six] championships out of 14 years. That’s [about] half, right? So what are we talking about?”