Basketball is a superb sport, and should be an easy one to market.
It 'works' for spectators in person, or should. One can sit close to the action, see the effort on the players' faces, sense their personalities, read the lines of tension between coach and player. It's absolutely made for television; no other sport is so accessible to the camera, partly because the basket's in a fixed place and one can frame images more easily than in a football or baseball game. (Baseball with its lame close-ups of pitchers on the mound suffers by comparison; one can hardly follow many plays, because the camera can't take in the action's essential points.) Basketball doesn't result in injuries at the rate of a football, so leagues can schedule games reasonably close to each other, and play a number of them, if they want. Lots of options are open that way. Win or go home? Best of 15?
The NBA is basketball's pinnacle. We enjoy other settings, players like Fran Vanquez don't want to come to the Association, but when you're talking about the highest level of the sport, this is it. Ricky Rubio grows up daydreaming about playing here.
The NBA playoffs should be amazing. They should present us with a dramatic line surpassing that of any other sport. Do they? How could we break such a judgment down?
Does the style of play in the NBA playoffs appeal to us? It's different than the regular season – in a good way?
Does the NBA properly officiate its playoffs, so that we feel we're seeing the best players in the game compete with each other fairly?
Is the structure of the playoffs such that it accentuates drama, causing us to be drawn to the games? Does it build tension?
Do we see the best match-ups, in terms of individual players and their teams?
Does the playoff structure bridge fan interest to the following season, so that fans who watched spellbound during the Finals are eager to come back for more? (The NFL manages to do that, with its early-season Monday night games putting contenders from the last year, right?)
Throughout the playoffs, is the interest of general NBA fans, as opposed to just the local fans in each market with a competing team, built up?
What other questions would one ask? Oh, here's the big one:
Do the NBA playoffs have the same cachet, the same feeling of heightened excitement and intensity, as the NCAA Tournament?