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Bonta Hill: It’s time to scrap the NBA Awards show

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Kevin Durant holds the NBA Finals MVP trophy — his second in two years — after beating the Cleveland Cavaliers on June 8, 2018, at Quicken Loans Arena. (Ryan Gorcey / SF Examiner)

Commissioner Adam Silver and the NBA deserves credit for its attempt to capitalize on its ascending worldwide popularity. The “Association” can seemingly do no wrong.

But when it comes to the NBA Awards show, the program needs work. Heck, Silver may need to eradicate the program altogether. Long-term, without some of the biggest names in attendance, how will it survive?

According to sportsmediawatch.com, the inaugural NBA Awards show in 2017 earned a 1.1 final rating and 1.79 million viewers on TNT. Not bad, right? Well, compared to the NFL Honors (3.2M) or the Heisman Trophy Presentation (2.6M), the NBA got smoked.

Later in the week, we should see where the 2018 NBA Awards show rates compared to the NFL Honors and Heisman Trophy Presentation, but ratings aside, the idea is good. The execution and timing of the show, though, are not ideal.

Giving out regular season awards nearly three months after the regular season ended is a head-scratcher because the element of surprise is gone. Seriously, who didn’t think James Harden was going to capture his first Most Valuable Player award?

Did we really think anyone not named Rudy Gobert was walking home with the Defensive Player of the Year award, or that Ben Simmons wasn’t going to hold off Donovan Mitchell for the Rookie of the Year award?

The answers are no, nope, and hell no.

Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis and many other stars didn’t bother attending the NBA’s version of the Oscars at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica this past Monday night. Draymond Green took his talents to CNN, sitting down with Chris Cuomo to reflect on declining Donald Trump’s White House invitation.

If most of the players in the NBA aren’t buying into the Awards show, then why should the fans? I’m not sure there’s an answer to that.

The NFL catches a break with their NFL Honors show. It takes place on the eve of Super Bowl Sunday, meaning many players attend. It’s convenient — to say the least — as most football players are already in town to make the rounds on Radio Row due to endorsement obligations.

The NHL’s awards show is cool, and although it doesn’t rate well here in the U.S., it’s become watchable in its 10-year history. Silver should convene with NHL comish Gary Bettman and pick his brain on how they get it done.

So, is it the timing of the event? Is it just soon after the end of the postseason? Is it too far removed from the end of the regular season? Why was only one of the three MVP nominees in attendance?

We’d have to ask James and Davis why they weren’t there, but my guess is that players are either vacationing, starting up their summer camps or just disconnecting from the league altogether.

You can’t blame the NBA for trying to spice up their annual awards with a glitz and glamour gathering, but watching guys like Curry, James, Durant hoist their MVP trophies in front of their fans in the midst of a playoff run was as riveting as it gets. Same with the Defensive Player of the Year trophy, but it can sure get awkward if your MVP candidate gets knocked out early. In 2007, I’m sure it was uncomfortable for Dirk Nowitzki to accept his MVP trophy after the “We Believe” Warriors bounced him out of the playoffs in the first round, but so be it.

Award shows are not the wave for the NBA. We care about the games, the draft and free agency. We’re even fanatics for Summer League(s).

Will the NBA Awards show catch up to the ESPY’s? Probably not, let alone be compared to the Golden Globe Awards, the Oscars or the Tony Awards.

Point is, if the NBA Awards show was canceled tomorrow, we’d care about it for 30 seconds. We don’t need it in our lives, but props to the NBA for trying. Can’t knock ‘em for that.

Bonta Hill of 95.7 The Game can be heard from noon to 3 p.m. on the Greg Papa Show. Born and bred in San Francisco, he is a sports junkie who loves to sit in the lab (home), eats breakfast food for dinner and has a newfound love for tequila. Follow at your own risk on Twitter @BontaHill.

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