Could Super League learn something from the NBA?

A lot of Super League fans think playing their rivals four times per season is too many, but it’s nothing compared to the NBA, one of the world’s biggest sporting enterprises.

There have been a few Warrington and Wigan fans complaining on social media that the teams will face off for the fourth time in 2019 at Magic Weekend, with the third clash between the neighbours taking place in the Challenge Cup on Sunday.

But in the National Basketball Association, games against rivals are come around far more often.

How does the NBA work?

There are 30 teams split into two conferences, the western and eastern conference. Each team plays 82 games during the regular season.

From the 15 teams in each conference, eight teams with the best win-loss record advance to the play-offs. The 16 teams are then seeded into their respective divisions and the team with the best record receives the number one seed, and the team with the worst record receives the number eight seed. This means the best and worst teams from each conference will face each other.

Each stage of this tournament is a best of seven series between two teams until only one team from the eastern conference, and one team from the western conference are left. These two teams play a ‘best of’ seven series in the NBA Finals for the NBA Championship title. For example, Toronto Raptors could face the Los Angeles Lakers for the NBA Championship.

The Golden State Warriors, who won the competition in 2017, regularly draw in capacity 19,000+ crowds and have a season ticket priority waiting list with over 42,000 members, so the crowd numbers aren’t affected, despite teams playing each other seven times.

British sport is a lot different to American sport – granted – but the two have many similarities as well.

NBA teams can play over seven games against each other in a regular season, whereas people moan in rugby league when rivals face off four or five times in Super League.

Warrington and Wigan played each other five times in 2018, so if Super League was like basketball (hypothetically!) in terms of the play-off format, Wigan would have clinched a 4:2 win over Warrington last season.

Seeing some supporters of the Wolves and Warriors moaning about playing each other four times seems a tad too far, with the NBA playing a dozen! I guess we bag our game too much, sometimes.

Rugby league could learn something from the NBA as it transitions into the modern era and learn to embrace rivalry. But anyway, get down to the Halliwell Jones Stadium on Sunday to see two of England’s biggest clubs face off in rugby league’s oldest Cup competition.

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