The NBA season is usually quite long.
The average NBA season has 82 games from early fall until mid-June. Once the postseason starts the games start to drag out, both in terms of execution on the court and days off between games. By the time May rolls around, many start to look at their watches and wonder when the season is going to end.
The case this year is different, of course.
A shortened season due to a lockout has hampered the product both on and off the court, with fans rolling their eyes at the prospect of a bunch of squabbling millionaires and billionaires fighting wit for wit to earn that one extra penny. The same situation occurred in regards to the NFL lockout, but then again, the NFL is the most popular sport in America by far and fans wanted the product to return as quickly as possible.
I don’t think the same can be said about the NBA.
The game has changed in terms of roster moves, with “super teams” stacking up superstars and solid role players to battle for the NBA crown. People used to tune in for games between Dwayne Wade and LeBron James; now they tune in to watch both players play side by side, often to the chagrin of many who feel contempt for LeBron.
Basically, many NBA franchises have become obsolete. With many teams in dire financial situations trying to just make their team competitive so fans will come out and pay for a ticket and a hot dog and watch an offensive-minded product, it’s just a cycle that is taking over lowly NBA franchises and allowing for those with more money and more fanfare to control the overall product.
One major benefit of having a shortened season would give the fans of these lowly franchises some hope going forward, if not for a couple of more months. After 25-30 games, some teams are already so far behind in their divisions and conferences that fans say, “Well, I guess we’ll have to wait ’til next year.” It’s a problem because not every team is going to win a championship, and we all realize that. But for a fan base to quit on a season by the end of the calendar year really makes some question what is going on around the league.
The same can be said for sports like hockey and baseball, where long schedules sometimes eliminate some bad teams way out of contention. The difference in those sports revolves around the fact that there are very few “super teams” that contend or win titles every season, sans teams like the Red Sox or Yankees or Red Wings. More people just seem to be annoyed by the NBA these days rather than entertained.
A season cut down from 82 games is highly unlikely because every game generates revenue of some kind, at least for some teams. It will be interesting to see how franchises do over the next few years and whether more contractions will take place because some teams will not be able to afford to be part of the league.
First, we will all have to see how a shortened season impacts the product as a whole.
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