Just a few days after LeBron James called for the firing of whoever’s responsible for creating the NBA’s new play-in tournament, the designated “play-in guy” at the league office has responded to the Los Angeles Lakers star’s comments.
Evan Wasch, whose formal title is Executive Vice President of Basketball Strategy & Analytics, took the high road when presented with James’s criticisms. “Obviously, we welcome feedback from our players and teams,” Wasch told The Washington Post. “But, on balance, we believe the play-in tournament offers more benefits than downsides.”
Wasch’s response comes just three days after James made his feelings on the league’s new play-in tournament abundantly clear following a loss to the Toronto Raptors on Sunday. “Whoever came up with that s--- needs to be fired,” the 34-year-old told reporters.
James wasn’t the first All-Star to come out against the tournament. Just last month, Luka Doncic also expressed his disapproval. “I don’t understand the idea,” he said, “You play 72 games to get in the playoffs, then maybe you lose two in a row and you’re out of the playoffs I don’t see the point of that.”
Despite the recent criticisms, Wasch maintained that the league stands by the new rule.
“There’s a general energy for this [play-in tournament within the league office],” Wasch told The Post. “We’re also careful not to get too high or too low. One month of ratings doesn’t prove that this is a winner. … [The length of the schedule] is a balance of basketball and economics. In the short term, coming off these two years — [which] have been incredibly challenging not just from a health and safety standpoint but from an economic standpoint as well — I think the view is, let’s get back to our normal course, our 82-game season.”