For decades, there have been complaints that the NBA’s season is too long. Playing 82 games dilutes the product, critics claim, and lessens the importance of each one. It also creates a marathon atmosphere that presents a high risk of injury and causes players to sometimes seem unmotivated.
People who have wanted to see the league try a shorter schedule are about to get their wish. After the chaos caused last season by the pandemic, the NBA and its players union have agreed to take steps toward a normal timeline by adopting a 72-game schedule that will start December 22.
Details on how those 72 games will be allocated still have to be worked out. The NBA hopes to reduce travel during the upcoming season, so games between teams from the Eastern and Western conferences could be reduced or even eliminated. An All-Star break is still expected in March, although it hasn’t been determined if it will include normal All-Star Weekend activities. A play-in tournament could also be adopted.
If the upcoming season is successful, the league may attempt to keep the shorter schedule, writes Jabari Young of CNBC.
“I would argue, with a leap of faith, that we’ll never see 82 again,” said Tony Ponturo, CEO of Ponturo Management Group, a marketing consulting firm. “It’s going to be better across the board of quality basketball and healthier athletes. You take the (revenue) hit and figure out how to make it up in other ways.”
Young also cites comments from NBA president of operations Byron Spruell, who suggested at the Disney World complex that the league would be open to schedule changes if they result in a better product. Another idea being considered is adopting series schedules, much like Major League Baseball, to make road trips less exhausting.
“Having this experience around being on a campus, with health and safety first – there are a lot of learnings that make you think about,” Spruell said in August. “Is there something in between given where the pandemic might be next season, given the experience we’re seeing from our teams and players in this campus format? Is there something in between that we’ll be able to accomplish, too?”
The obvious concern with a shorter schedule is the lost revenue as each team has five fewer home games. Young cites several ways to make up the difference, including higher ticket prices as games become more scarce, increased revenue from the play-in games and additional sponsorship opportunities.
We want to get your opinion. Do you believe there would be a noticeable difference in the quality of play with a permanent 72-game schedule or would you prefer to see the league continue with its traditional 82-game slate? Please leave your answer in the comments section.