Originally Posted by b1gdon
Get rid of the conferences and all of a sudden Spurs/Mavs loses most of it's meaning. Sure you'll still have the proximity, but just look at the Rockets. They are the closest team to SA, they were a playoff contender in the Yao era, but all that animosity we built up in the Admiral/Dream era is almost all gone because we haven't faced them in the playoffs since 1996. Compare that to Spurs/Mavs, Suns or Lakers and it is not even close. As long as Houston is nearby and in our state, there will always be a sibling rivalry, but true rivals are born through frequent regular season games and in the playoffs. Abolish the conferences and you reduce the chance of seeing any opponent by half. All for what, so some mediocre team like Phx or Min can lose in the first round.
I would say the only reason to keep conferences would be for the all star game.
You mention rivalries as a reason to keep conferences because rivalries are built in the playoffs. As you mentioned, we had a rivalry with the Rockets but that has died not because we haven't seen them in the playoffs but because they haven't prevented us from advancing in the playoffs. If we meet the Mavs (or Suns) in round one this year, will they really be a rival? No, they'll just be first round fodder that used to be a contender. Our current rivals are the Thunder, Heat and maybe Memphis. Abolishing conferences wouldn't change that. Ultimately the best teams will advance farther in the playoffs and that's where you get your rivalries.
Getting rid of conferences would open us up to a slew of new potential rivals. Imagine Lakers-Celtics or Bulls-Jazz (from the late 90's) meeting up in an early round. What if we get a Spurs-Heat Semi-finals? There will always be geographic rivals, but if you allow everyone to play everyone else, it will end up being more fun for the fans. How many here wished we could have had a Jordan-Robinson playoff battle? Or as I mentioned earlier, a rematch with the Heat? In the end, having the 16 BEST teams in the playoffs is better for the league than worrying about silly conference titles.