If there seems to be one consensus among fans and pundits as the discussion of a post-lockout NBA schedule picks up steam, it is this:
The NBA season is too long.
It is 82 games, as it has been since most of us can remember. As it has been since most of us were born.
Why 82? Um, well, Kevin Arnovitz asked around for TrueHoop and it turns out nobody really knows. Not league officials, not the league schedule maker, not anybody.
NBA teams played 80 games each beginning in 1961-62. The league added a game in 1966-67, bringing the total to 81, then ultimately settled on 82 games for the 1967-68 season, when the San Diego Rockets and Seattle SuperSonics joined the league. Now a 12-team league, the NBA had each team play its conference rivals eight times and its inter-conference foes seven times. As the league continued to expand, the NBA maintained its 82-game schedule — the only exception being the 1998-99 season, when a lockout produced an abbreviated — and compressed — 50-game schedule.
Arnovitz makes the case for a 44 games season where teams would play just twice a week — once midweek and once on the weekend. Less supply would save a lot of wear and tear on players, it would allow coaches to practice more and put in more detailed game plans. Certainly 44 is on the low end of calls, but a lot of people like the idea of a regular 70 or 76 game season.
Why is that not going to happen? Money.
The average Lakers game brings in about $2 million in revenue, which puts it at the high end. The Grizzlies are on the low end and they get more than $500,000 a game in revenue.
So even for the Grizzlies, cancel six home dates and that is $3 million less in revenue. Television contracts would have to be adjusted down, same with arena sponsorship deals. Which ultimately means less money in the players pockets.
So it’s not going to happen. But I wish it would. Even if it was 44 games.