The 2020-21 season was a thrilling one that ended with the Milwaukee Bucks hoisting the 2021 NBA Championship trophy, but the league also had to be happy about how the 2021 NBA Play-In Tournament unfolded.
Despite some grumblings from LeBron James, the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors played one of the year’s best games as the two sides fought for the seventh seed in the Western Conference. The Lakers would eventually emerge as victors after James sunk the go-ahead three-pointer in the game’s final minutes.
The NBA and Players Association agreed to extend the concept, and the Board of Governors later approved a proposal to keep the Play-In Tournament for the 2021-22 season. Although James might have mixed feelings about this, he and Adam Silver reportedly discussed the event via TMZ:
“We talked about it,” Silver told us. “I think at the end of the day, I understand. Especially if you went deep last year and you have that end, you have that many sort of games on your legs.”
“You’re not looking forward to more games. But, I think he understands the context of the league.”
Silver did note that future changes could be made to the tournament if it makes sense:
“At the end of the day, the Players Association speaks for the players, and they’ve approved this format for next season,” he added.
“So, I think we wanted to get one more season under our belt that wasn’t a pandemic season, so we could really get a sense of how it works.”
“But, I’m more open to tinkering with it if necessary.”
The Play-In tournament is a great opportunity for teams toward the bottom of the standings to try and make the playoffs as teams slotted seven through 10 must participate. As a bonus, the tournament de-incentivizes tanking, given that no teams are really out of the race until the final few games of the regular season.
Fortunately for James and the Lakers, they should not find themselves in next season’s Play-In Tournament if they are healthy.
LeBron James voices displeasure with Play-In Tournament
James was arguably the most vocal about the Play-In Tournament as he called for whoever thought of it to be fired. While a bit facetious, it does speak to how strongly he felt about the event despite him ultimately coming out of it as a winner.