If I were the NBA commissioner for a day, I would ...
1. Put a muzzle on certain P.A. announcers: Yes, they should root for the home team, and yes, they should pep up the crowd from time to time. But this incessant roar from some of them is over the top. As Steve Nash stepped to the line during a Dallas Mavericks-Phoenix Suns playoff game, the Mavs' announcer said: "Steve Nash, one noisy shot." Too over the top.
2. Dress-code alterations: OK, keep the NBA dress code and even enforce it once in a while -- it provided some needed public relations for a league that was struggling in that area. But at the same time, pass out a manual informing people them that millions of young Americans actually dress the same way "urban" NBA players dress.
3. Return to the press some of the front-row (or at least lower-level) seating that has gone to season ticket-holders: Yeah, like that's going to happen. But I had to say it, right?
4. Curtail crazy introductions: Make it mandatory that a team had to have advanced beyond the first round of the playoffs in the preceding year to have a smoke-and-lights pregame opening lineup display. It was great back when legendary P.A. guy Ray Clay brought out Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls to a bells-and-whistles presentation, quite another when we waste several minutes of our lives greeting, say, the Atlanta Hawks in the same fashion.
5. Schedule NBDL-NBA doubleheaders: If the National Basketball Developmental League is such a good product, as the NBA insists it is, schedule a few NBDL-NBA doubleheaders during the season. One of my fondest memories is attending weeknight doubleheaders at the old Convention Hall in Philadelphia.
6. Police the anthem: If a national anthem looks like it's going over the two-minute mark, arena officials are allowed to cut off the singer's microphone. We all know how the song ends, right?
7. Mandate that a player be in clear possession of the basketball before he is allowed to call timeout: It drives me nuts when there's a mad scramble for the ball, and, suddenly, a ref comes roaring out of the pack to say somebody -- somehow -- called a timeout.
8. Fix retro night: OK, we get the retro nights. We love the retro jerseys. We love the fact that the old players are remembered. But how about making it mandatory that every team have at least one retro price night? Admission is 10 bucks. Hot dogs are $1.25, sodas are $1. Convince the corporate suits to give up their boxes for an evening -- when, say, the Hawks are in town -- and let the regular folks who follow the game actually see one live. If the NBA has to underwrite this promotion for certain teams, they should do it.
9. Return the Finals to the 2-2-1-1-1 format: Yes, it makes for more travel, and the NBA misses out on the opportunity to flack the product for a solid week in one city. But playing three straight games at home unquestionably gives an advantage to the lower-seeded team. To have the 2-2-1-1-1 format for the first three rounds of the playoffs then abandon it for the Finals doesn't make good basketball sense.
10. Establish a section for wives: During the playoffs, establish a section where the wives of the visiting teams can congregate together, rather than sprinkling them in the stands among raucous home spectators. It is unclear what happened one night in Phoenix when a couple of spectators and Cassandra Johnson, the wife of Dallas Mavericks coach Avery Johnson, became embroiled in a confrontation. But it's not the first time it happened, and the NBA should do something about it.