Welcome to The Hardwood Courtroom!

League Structure & Rules

The Hardwood Courtroom is an idea I came up with to help NBA-starved fans get through the unbearable lockout. My thought was that if no games were played this year something needed to happen to keep our minds fresh and focused around our favorite players in the world. Almost all sports fans I know love to debate, so why not create a league centered around debating which NBA stars are overrated and underrated?!

In order to make this work, I needed to know which players my fellow fans thought were over- and underrated. So I had all of the participants (including myself) develop a ranked list of the Top 50 Players in the NBA based on who we would want on our imaginary teams for JUST THIS SEASON. No, I'm not arguing if Tim Duncan is greater than Kobe Bryant based on his career accomplishments; I'm arguing whether the 35-year old Tim Duncan who plays just two quarters a night is the smarter pick for the 2011-2012 season than the 33-year old Kobe Bryant who's missed just nine games in the last four years.

After all of the participants submitted their ranked Top 50 Players list to me, I developed a schedule (see right sidebar) that matched up players they had ranked differently from each other. For instance, if I had ranked Kevin Durant #3 and Derrick Rose #5 while another participant ranked Rose #4 and Durant #6, Durant vs. Rose is a debate that could take place between us. As long as one participant ranks Player A ahead of Player B while the other ranks Player B ahead of Player A, a debate can potentially take place.

When it is someone's scheduled week to debate with another participant, one person is "home" and the other is "away." Whoever is away starts the debate on Monday of that week by writing an argument as to why his/her player is the better choice for the 2011-2012 season than his/her opponent's player. There is no restriction as to what evidence or reasoning they use when making their arguments so long as they don't make up false statistics. When the away debater is finished writing his/her argument, he/she submits it to me (Phil) by the end of the day. I then forward that debater's argument to the home debater on Tuesday morning where the same process takes place - he/she makes an argument as to why his/her player is superior. Home debater sends the argument back to me by the end of the day which I then forward back to the away debater on Wednesday morning, and the same process occurs one more time through (away debater sends rebuttal back to me by end of the day; I forward it to home debater who sends final statement to me by Thursday night).

After the debate is finished I touch it up with pictures, spelling revisions, etc. before posting it on the front page of the blog the following week. So if a debate takes place during the week of Nov. 7, it won't be seen on the blog until the week of Nov. 14. Once it has been posted I tell the world to log on and vote for which player's rep won the debate. All that people see is that someone arguing for Derrick Rose went against someone arguing for Kevin Durant; no one knows the identity of the participants. People are instructed to only vote once and have until the following Sunday at 7:00 a.m. EST to vote for the winner.

At the end of the regular season, the top six seeds advance to the Playoffs. The participants with the two best records from their 12-game season earn the #1 and #2 seeds and receive first round byes. The #3 and #4 seeds are respectively matched up against the #6 and #5 seeds in a best-of-three quarterfinal series (with the higher seed having an extra home or away game, whichever they prefer). The winner of the #3-#6 series advances to the semifinals to face the #2 seed, and the #4-#5 series winner advances to face the #1 seed (again in a best-of-three series). The winners of these series face off in a best-of-three Finals series, with the winner crowned the 2011-2012 Hardwood Courtroom Champion. *Note: If there is a tie for seeding, first tie-breaker is head-to-head record; second tie-breaker is record against playoff teams; third tie-breaker is total percentage points won throughout the regular season from each person's debates.

In order to ensure fairness and enjoyability for all of the league's participants, there are a few rules they all vowed to maintain throughout the duration of the season:

1. Respect your opponents.
-The primary reason I started this league was to build community amongst us NBA fans in fun and competitive way. This does not, however, promote the use of personal attacks on another individual during the debates or when leaving comments. Depending on the severity of the offense, one is subject to immediate expulsion of league participation when engaging in this behavior.

2. Be responsible and timely.
-It is my expectation that all league participants submit their arguments to me by 10:59 p.m. EDT on their scheduled days to debate. However, I understand that in rare cases unexpected things come up that may keep them from submitting their debates on time. If this occurs I ask that they email me right away so I can inform their opponent of the delay, and I expect their argument to be submitted to me as soon as possible afterwards. I will only address this if it becomes a habit or if they fail to inform me ahead of time.

3. Keep your identity anonymous until the winner of your debate has been determined.
-This includes EVERYONE. The only way these debates are valid is if the voters do not know who is arguing for which player. Participants are free to post on their facebook or twitter account, "Hey everyone, check out The Hardwood Courtroom and vote for this week's winners!"; what they cannot do is tell people they're one of the debaters, to vote for their player, etc. They also cannot do this outside of social media networks - NO ONE is to know which debates they are taking part in until after the voting has been closed. Failure to abide by this rule will result in forfeiting the match and consideration for league expulsion.

4. Keep your schedule and player rankings hidden throughout the entire season.
-This is an extension of the previous rule; obviously if the participants' friends know which weeks they're scheduled to debate then their friends will know the debates in which they're competing. Along with this, if my friends know I ranked Rose ahead of Durant they can conclude which side I may be arguing for. This rule also includes sharing with other league participants - NO ONE is to see what weeks any participant is debating or what their players' rankings are until the season is finished.

5. One vote only.
-Participants are welcome and encouraged to vote on all of the debates (including their own) so long as they only vote once. Since I will always be aware of which participants are competing I can only vote on my own debates. This is obviously a rule that needs to completely depend on the trust and honor of league participants; since there is no monetary prize awarded to the champion, I believe everyone has the decency to abide by this.

I think anyone who knows me well would say I am a kind and open-minded individual. I love competition but I keep everything in perspective; this league's primary goal is to be a fun, community-building experience. All are welcome to vote on the debates and leave comments any time. My hope is that this league will help us get to know each other better, improve our debate skills, deepen our knowledge of the NBA, and most of all get us through this painful lockout. Thank you all for reading and feel free to send me an email at hardwoodcourtroom@gmail.com.com any time!