Rick Zamperin: There’s only 1 way to make an NBA in-season tournament work

Toronto Raptors' Pascal Siakam (43) looks for an opening against the Utah Jazz during second half NBA basketball action in Toronto, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Hans Deryk

It seems like with every new season in just about every professional sports league, there are rule changes made or new wrinkles added in an effort to make the game more appealing to its fans and entice new ones to hop aboard.

For the most part, leagues — like the NHL, NFL and Major League Baseball — have adopted new rules that help promote more scoring, because who doesn’t love more goals, touchdowns and home runs?

The National Basketball Association has done some fantastic things over the years to enhance the action on the floor, such as adding the 24-second shot clock in 1954 and adding the three point line in 1979.

Now the NBA and NBA Players’ Association are in negotiations to try and add some spice to the league’s current 82-game regular season.

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There is a proposal for an in-season tournament to be held starting in the 2021-22 season, which happens to be the league’s 75th anniversary, featuring all 30 NBA clubs.

Soccer fans are certainly familiar with this premise with tournaments like the Premier League’s FA Cup and Serie A’s Coppa Italia, two signature events that date back to 1871 and 1922, respectively.

The idea of an in-season NBA tournament is not a bad one on the surface.

The league could hold this tournament over one weekend and teams would duke it out in an NCAA March Madness-style format, with the last team standing declared the winner.

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But there’s only one way that this idea is going to work.

There is talk that the NBA is mulling over the prize that will be presented to the winning team and one suggestion that has surfaced is awarding a draft pick to the tournament champion.

This is a joke, right? A draft pick? How is that going to entice NBA players — whose primary goal is to win the Larry O’Brien Trophy — to give 110 per cent in this tournament?

It won’t.

Click to play video: 'Continuing the Raptors championship celebration'
Continuing the Raptors championship celebration

The league, players’ union, a TV network and some major sponsors have to put a bunch of money on the table to get the players to care enough to want to play — and win — this event.

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Otherwise, the NBA’s in-season tournament will be a flop.

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