NBA Finals Stanley Cup
Spencer Hazen, ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

The NBA and NHL are trending in different directions, and it’s for the worse when it comes to professional basketball. 

It’s been nothing short of exciting lately in the world of sports. Yet, with excitement filling up the air there’s usually controversy that comes with that price and for fans alike across North America, especially in the NBA and NHL at the moment.

The NHL has been witnessing a historic story with its expansion franchise making an appearance in the 2018 Stanley Cup Final, but it’s left a number of fan bases annoyed. The expansion Vegas Golden Knights are currently tied in the Final one game apiece with the Washington Capitals.

Why are some people in the Hockey World annoyed?

Vegas may win its first Stanley Cup before a number of franchises and other NHL cities are bitter over that fact. Vegas potentially won’t have to pay their dues to hoist Lord Stanley in comparison to other franchises such as their rivals in the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings. Keep in mind that the Capitals are one of those teams that have never won a Stanley Cup, either.

Let’s transition over to the other Final that’s about to tip off and at 9:00 p.m. (EST) tonight. For the fourth straight year, the Western Conference’s Golden State Warriors will meet the Eastern Conference’s Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.

It’s the same old story and formula in the NBA…

The Cavs’ LeBron James is playing in his eighth straight NBA Finals and Cleveland is playing the role of underdog for the second straight year against Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and the powerhouse Warriors.

What’s worse right now for professional sports?

Is it a first-year team that put together a group of Golden Misfits and may win a title; or is having the same NBA Finals matchup four years straight and a repeat champion with a loaded roster playing the role of villain in this case?

The answer…

The NBA having the same Finals matchup and a potential repeat champion in the Warriors are worse than having an expansion franchise winning the NHL’s Stanley Cup. It’s a bad image for the NBA.

For starters, it’s no secret that the equity of the NHL’s overall talent level is much stronger than the NBA’s. Similar to the NBA there are 16 teams that can clinch playoff berths (eight in each conference), but there’s a better competitive balance amongst the teams in the NHL.

An eighth-seeded team in either conference from the NHL can take down a one seed, but in the NBA lately, that outcome seems like it’s rarer than a No. 16 seed defeating a No. 1 seed in the NCAA’s March Madness Bracket.

What’s so special about the Knights’ run is just how difficult and unimaginable their accomplishments have been up to this point. It’s essentially comparable to the NBA receiving an expansion franchise next season and having a group of unwanted players team up to then go on and face Lebron James in the Finals, or take him down in the process.

From an overall standpoint wouldn’t that be more enticing, rather than seeing a stacked team go to the Finals four straight years with minimal competition in the process each passing spring season?

The NHL and Vegas have opened up new doors for the other three major professional sports with the Knights’ success and how they structured their entire organization, especially with the team’s Hockey Operations staff.

Watching a league that appears to only have five legitimate contenders in a watered-down league each season, and one where all-stars sign mega contracts to team up with one another in order to gain strength in numbers, is worse than what’s taking place in Vegas right now.

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Kyle McKenna is a freelancer who covers the NHL for Elite Sports New York, Hooked On Hockey Magazine & Fansided. Follow him on Twitter @KMcKenna_tLT5 and use the hashtag #McKennasDigest to have your NHL questions featured in an article or answered over his weekly NHL podcast.