The New Jersey Nets are leaving to Brooklyn, and it doesn’t look like a lot of people are too sad. The NBA’s popularity didn’t take such a hit, maybe not at all, as many expected after the lockout delayed the opening of the 2011-2012 season by almost two months.

The beginning of the NBA playoffs isn’t always the best of times to talk about the bad stuff. Especially empty seats and arenas. Won’t be plenty of empty seats on camera in the coming weeks. But the NBA wasn’t just about the marquee teams and the Bulls, Mavericks and Blazers, bringing in over 20,000 fans out each night, no matter who was coming in to play.

It was just as about the Pistons, Bobcats, Nets and Wizards. It was about tanking and teams who weren’t even close to trying to get back in the race. Too quickly it looked like teams were facing the fact with too much ease that this is going to be a bad season. Even in a shortened, crazy like expected season.

Some teams just didn’t have the quality to compete for the 8th playoff spot. Some just faded as the season went on, as some always do. The Charlotte Bobcats put on a gruesome show each and every game, setting a new record for losing percentage. The Golden State Warriors shipped out their best player to the Milwaukee Bucks telling the world they weren’t planning on winning anything late in the season. They started 5 rookies when the season was nearly over, an NBA first.

Too many games with squeaks heard all through the venue and on your screen. Too many games with no cheering and too much music to disguise the disinterest inside the arena. Too many games that looked like playground basketball, played by overgrown kids who know nothing about defense, care nothing for anything but personal stats on offense.

This wasn’t only about the Bulls, Thunder, Spurs, Heat, Celtics, Pacers, Lakers, Grizzlies and Clippers. The NBA highlights its best, but even on a short season, too many stopped caring too early. It seems that it’s more about a problematic system – A draft lottery that needs to change, and a league that needs fewer teams. No matter what excuse you make up for each team that missed the playoff, there’s just not enough acceptable talent, on the court and on the lines and in the front offices for 30 NBA teams.

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