There’s been a lot of drama in the NBA regarding the resting of star players. Teams want to save their stars for the playoffs, but the league and it’s sponsors want otherwise. It’s clear that NBA fans watch games to see the stars, and without them viewership tanks. However, the more games a star plays, the more drained he’ll be come playoff time, and the higher the risk is for injury. So, what should the NBA do?
In 2012 Greg Popovich made a controversial decision. The Spurs were playing the Heat in a nationally televised game. Both teams were obviously hot tickets in the NBA. However, Greg Popovich made a bold move that lowered the games stock: he sent Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Danny Green home to San Antonio. He wanted to give them the night off in preparation for their upcoming game against the Grizzlies.
The move infuriated then commissioner David Stern, who would fine the Spurs a hefty $250,000. The players had played 5 games in 8 days, enough to take a toll on anyone, yet the commissioner didn’t think they deserved a rest. He put revenue before rest.
Since that incident, the “resting debacle” has continued into this season; Adam Silver recently called it, “the biggest issue in the NBA.” Stars need rest, but they also need a paycheck… Both sides are right, but no real solution has been put forward. For me, it’s simple: can’t the NBA just shorten it’s season?
The NBA season is incredibly long. 82 games which last 48 minutes each. Most stars play 35 minutes per game, adding up to 2,870 minutes per season. Obviously that’s a rough estimation, but still, that’s a lot of minutes. Then there’s the playoffs… LeBron James has played in 6 straight NBA finals adding up to 128 extra games on top of the 82 game season. That’s a whole extra season and a half!
Doesn’t the NBA want to protect it’s best asset? The players.
Shortening the season to 62 games would significantly lower the risk of injury, as well as the need to rest players in general. Not only that, but it would make the NBA much more competitive during the regular season, and much more entertaining. Even the biggest NBA fan can admit that the season gets a little long.
Kobe Bryant had this to say about shortening the season:
“You can’t [just] lose five-to-10 games,” Bryant says, according to Baxter Holmes and Tom Haberstroh of ESPN. “If you’re going to do it, you’ve almost got to go quality versus quantity. If you’re going to shorten the schedule, then you’ve got to shorten the schedule and look to enhance your TV numbers substantially … because now every regular-season game is worth a s**t.”
A lot of people will argue against this, because it will lower the league’s revenue. A shorter season means less televised games, which in turn means less money for everyone involved. Right?
The NFL is the wealthiest sports organization in the world, and each team only plays 16 games a season. People are more likely to watch, because a football game is a rare commodity. It only comes around once a week so it’s a special occasion. NBA games are on nearly every night, and most of the games mean very little to the Standings. In the NFL, essentially every game matters, and that’s why their viewership is so great.
When the NBA season begins most people already have a pretty good idea of who they’ll see in the playoffs. It’s too long and it’s too predictable. To me, the NBA could gain a lot more than they think from shortening the season. If anything, it could boost the leagues revenue. Make it a rare commodity, make it more competitive, take care of your players, shorten the season.