Silver is pushing towards an in-season championship to generate more interest and definitely more revenue. The tournament will shorten the season.
But it looks like he could risk devaluing the regular season by pushing for more motivational matches ahead of the playoffs.
“I realize this may always be a concern that people might take that from what I said, so I’m at least trying to send the opposite message,” Silver told Yahoo Sports at the Boys and Girls Club of San Francisco recently. “But I want to make sure that people understand just like any other business, we are constantly thinking about innovation. And we listen to our fans.”
Is it the chicken or the egg? Conversation has become so sluggish and it’s hard to tell if fans think too many matches mean nothing or if players and teams are behaving as if 82 games are too many.
Messages from many of the league’s partners seem counterintuitive, and thus could send a message to fans that is then recycled and sent to the Twittersphere. There’s no doubt that some regular season games mean more than others, but one wonders if the NBA could do a better job with its own messaging and its regular season packaging.
“The last thing I’m trying to suggest is that we don’t appreciate our current regular season, it’s very valuable,” Silver said. “These teams care so much about the home court advantage, and people just can’t get enough of basketball in the NBA.”
Even if the season’s championship doesn’t come to fruition, will fans take that as a sign that the league doesn’t appreciate its regular season?
Silver has made an important distinction, if an in-season tournament becomes a reality: Fans will still be able to get that visit once a year from each player because the overlap schedule won’t change.
“If we make adjustments to the schedule, we will always ensure that every team plays each other at least once,” Silver said. “I think this is very important. Everyone wants to see, even if it’s a cross-country trip, that wherever this player is on the team playing in the other conference, they should have the opportunity to see that player at least once.”
He wants to create new traditions, but this takes time; The most accurate indicator of success is likely to be television revenue.
“Then the question is, is that going to create some extra interest from the fans? If there are some games that get special attention during the season, and the guys feel like they’re playing for something?” Silver said.
“Finally, I will say that I realize it [if] We do, it won’t be an overnight success. Because the obvious question, whether it’s from the players or for the fans would be, “What? Why should we think that makes sense? Do you play tournaments in season? My answer would be, ‘I got it.'” But I think we can create new traditions, obviously that Things change over time. And that’s something I’m very focused on right now.”
With additions in sports science and general innovation referred to in silver, today’s players enjoy far more benefits than previous generations: better travel and training, more comfort and more efficient recovery methods.
Lost in that is the element of the NBA season being an intentional marathon and draining game. It has been woven into the fabric of the NBA for as long as anyone can remember. Champions often have a combination of health, youth, experience that is enhanced over 82 matches, and a know-how to manage.
The prospect of removing this element away from this element seems to tear the fabric of a crucial element.
“The fact that teams are so focused on managing loads and players are resting, that sends a message in and of itself,” Silver said. “And I’m saying we pay attention to that, and we want to make sure that the number of games we play isn’t just a consequence of the fact that that’s what we’ve been doing for 50 years.”
Silver said he’s “taking a fresh look” at things, and that’s been proven with varying degrees of success. The Playing Championship produced great matches last year and continues to excite more teams late in the season. He also modified the 2-3-2 NBA Finals setup established by his predecessor, the late David Stern, and re-implemented the 2-2-1-1-1 once he took office, beginning with the 2014 NBA Finals.
Because the playoffs were affected by injuries to key players—something that has happened nearly every year of the NBA’s existence—there was a push to shorten the season. Silver Thought last year’s truncated season answered that question, but it still stands.
“Last season, because of the COVID issues that put pressure on the schedule, we played 72 games,” Silver said. “I thought that was a very good answer to all those people who said we were going to reduce injuries by playing 10 games less, and that was quickly forgotten.”
There is an element that the NBA can’t control either. The age of specialization among young people means more stress on the bodies of potential players at a younger age. Weekends at Al Ain University have players playing several times a day, along with around-the-clock activities from personal trainers, which were not often present in other eras.
The clock on the human body doesn’t magically start once someone gets into the NBA, and during the seasons, there are plenty of videos of players running at local gyms across the country.
The phrase “basketball never stops” is there for a reason.
“Of course, if the player is not on the ground, it reduces the chance of the player getting injured, but there has been no data showing a shorter season which means that over the course of the year we will have fewer injuries, so that was an important message in and of itself,” Silver said.