In one of the greatest sports upsets ever, last night the eighth-seeded Golden State Warriors bounced the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks from the opening round of the NBA playoffs, winning four games to two. As one who usually roots for the underdog, it is a satisfying result.
But the outcome makes me wonder whether there is a better way to reward excellence during the regular season. The Mavs won a league-best 67 games, which only earned them home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. In the NFL, by contrast, the best teams get a first-round bye.
So why the long, grueling NBA season, followed by a long, grueling round of playoffs (including now best-of-seven series in the first round)? Money is the only answer. So don’t expect anything to change, even if the best teams don’t always win.