We understand that the casual fan probably doesn’t care how often players and coaches are formally made to be available to the media throughout the course of the season, or how long reporters have to wait after games to speak to a team’s star players.
But it affects the coverage you’ll receive, especially from guys who are on hard and fast newspaper-mandated deadlines. So it’s worth delving into a bit with training camps still about 10 days away.
The NBA has revised its policies in these areas in time for the 2013-14 season, and overall, the changes should result in more relevant access to players, albeit a little less frequently.
“It was time to take a fresh look,” NBA senior vice president of communications Tim Frank said. “We’ve basically had the same rules for 30-plus years and with the changing media landscape it was clear there were redundancies and we needed to adjust.”
The old rules required players to be available at the morning shootaround and before the game, though most picked only one and some did neither. Now, they can choose one, but if their team doesn’t hold a morning workout, they will be required to be available at pregame if requested.
Players frequently didn’t talk when injured, and in the case of recent late-season injuries to Derrick Rose and Kevin Garnett, their teams’ seasons ended before they ever spoke to reporters after getting hurt. The new rules require a player with a long-term injury to meet with the media within a week of the diagnosis, if medically possible, and speak once a week after he returns to practice, even if he hasn’t resumed playing in games.
These two changes are big, in that star players often wouldn’t talk to media before games. Now they have to on days with no shootaround — at least according to the new policy. As always, some teams are more cooperative in this regard than are others.
The stipulation involving injured players is particularly of interest, and is likely in direct response to how the whole Derrick Rose situation was handled in Chicago last season. Rose spoke to reporters rarely during his recovery, although the team was more to blame for the hysteria surrounding his potential return than was the player.
Other changes include coaches being required to be available to media 10 minutes following a game’s conclusion, which I can tell you from experience doesn’t always happen, especially after a particularly tough loss. Players are also now supposed to be available within 45 minutes following a game — something that easily could have been dubbed The Carmelo Anthony Rule for the ridiculously long time he takes after games before speaking with reporters.
It’ll be interesting to see how this is all enforced, but overall, the league does a great job of providing plenty of access to its teams so that the local and national media each have a wealth of opportunity to provide comprehensive coverage.