It was only one week ago that I wrote a post describing how NBA stars were once again sitting out regular season games despite being healthy and how the NBA would eventually need to address the issue for the second time in under 2 years.
I actually didn’t expect them to do so this off-season because of the implications any schedule change would have to have on player salaries and league revenue. And while it has yet to be seen whether the league addresses this topic in a few months, we at least were given a peek into Commissioner Adam Silver’s thoughts on the topic at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference that was held over the weekend.
Silver sat down with sports media personality Bill Simmons for a one-hour interview, and when Simmons mentioned that most players he speaks with would prefer a season in the 65-70 games range, Silver commented that this is something he had already discussed with the competition committee.
As I had presumed in my post, Silver stated his first thought is how willing players would be to taking the roughly 20% pay cut that corresponds to a season that length. Simmons unfortunately did not give much room for the Commissioner to continue on this path, instead asking if there were other ways the league could make up for that revenue.
Silver then mentioned an interesting possibility in which the NBA, following soccer’s lead, could hold multiple tournaments throughout the season, essentially making the Larry O’Brien Trophy only one of a few that teams would compete for. While I am not an avid soccer fan, Silver stated that soccer players do not place a single tournament in higher regard than others, simply competing for many championships throughout a given calendar year.
(As an aside, if this is indeed the case, it would come as a surprise to me. I believe it would simply be human nature to “rank” the tournaments in your mind, most likely according to prize value or social importance, and reserve your true “best effort” for the tournament that counts most.)
Nevertheless, my thoughts on this are twofold: on one hand, I think it would be great to watch, for example, a single-elimination tournament in the middle of the season where a team on a hot streak could win out over a more talented opponent. On the other hand, though, I don’t see how this addresses the main issue – if players think 82 games are simply too much for their bodies to handle, how does breaking down the season into 70 “regular season” games plus additional games for these other tournaments make a difference?
While I still have questions about this particular issue, the interview touched on a number of interesting subjects and left me with the feeling that Adam Silver has his finger on the pulse of the the most pressing issues facing the league. It will be interesting to watch how the NBA changes in the years ahead as technology allows for different viewing experiences in an increasingly crowded entertainment market – something I will talk more about in a future post.