hypothesis that I spent little time developing & will spend less time defending
the nba isn't biased against small market teams so much as it is currently weighted where the Western Conference is consistently better and stronger and deeper than the East. And small market teams--for reasons of U.S. demographics and population density--are more likely to be found in the West.
for a lot of reasons that I won't get into here, the West is consistently better than the East, and has been for quite some time. Over the past two decades, when East teams have won the championships, it has been almost exclusively due to the singular greatness of Lebron James. But below the top tier of Eastern conference teams (i.e., LeBron's team, plus maybe one other team), its generally a mess, especially when compared to how good the West is, top to near-bottom.
But if you take that dominance away from the west, and hand it to the East, what does that look like? Just go back to the previous decade, when the East was the more dominant conference, top to bottom. Of course, most of that is due to the singular greatness of Jordan, but unlike Lebron's relative ease through ECF and into Finals, there were more legit challengers in the East, and the overall strength was in teams like the late 80's/early 90's Pistons, the Knicks, and the Magic teams led by Shaq/Penny. And what happened during that decade? without western conference dominance, Small market teams from Utah, Portland, San Antonio and (what later became OKC) all made the NBA finals. In fact, throughout the 90's there was a small-market team in half of NBA Finals. Not only that, but there were different small market teams.
Setting that aside, the fact that the Knicks have been as bad as they have for as long as they have really puts a damper on the "But small markets!" theory. And you also have to ignore the dominance of the Spurs during the last 20 years, which is what people pushing the anti-small market bias theory have to do. Put another way, if there were more parity as between East and West, I think most of the perceived small market/big market disparities would dissipate
This message has been modified
Originally posted on May 12, 2021 at 9:10:19am
Message modified by Linescratcher on May 12, 2021 at 9:10:48am