When a standard Wednesday night NBA game tips off at 7 p.m. Eastern, it is midnight in London, 4:30 a.m. Thursday in New Delhi, India, and in Beijing it is 7 a.m. Thursday morning.
For a game trying to grow globally, it’s hard to get a fan overseas to sit down and watch a game live at those times.
NBA Commissioner David Stern was in China, where the NBA sent the Lakers and Warriors for some preseason games, and where the league opened up a school with Yao Ming. At a press conference talk of bringing a regular season NBA game to China came up.
But then Stern talked start times.
“Interestingly, there’s an intermediate step that Yao raised earlier with me, and that is the question of whether the NBA would consider modifying some of the start times of its games so that they would be more accessible to international audiences at a more convenient time for them to watch. And I think that the NBA is going to have to wrestle over the next decade as more and more of our viewing audience is outside the United States, is what’s the best time for games to be played so that those fans can enjoy them live as opposed to having to get up in China and watch an NBA game at 7:00 in the morning. And I think that’s a fun problem that we’re going to be addressing because so much viewing is happening outside the United States now.”
The problem is the domestic audience inside the United States is still the core audience. The NBA can’t start to alienate its core audience. For Europe, some of the weekend afternoon starts can work — a 1 p.m. Eastern start on Sunday is 6 p.m. in London, and you can promote that.
Asia is another matter. With basically a 12-hour time difference, there is no good answer. The Lakers and Warriors are playing at a good viewing time in China for their exhibition games, but back home America’s West Coast those games start at 4:30 a.m.
I do think you will see the NBA take a regular season game or games to China in the coming few years. It is the next step in that market.
Minnesota is going to be entertaining to watch this season. A healthy Ricky Rubio (hopefully) dishing at the point, Karl-Anthony Towns is already a high-IQ passer, and bench players such as Shabazz Muhammad and Adreian Payne have shown some skills.
Then there’s Andrew Wiggins. The reigning Rookie of the Year developed quickly last season — particularly his jump shot — and he should make a big leap this season. He’s going to dunk on people and end up in a lot of highlight packages while putting up a lot of points.
Enough to set the Minnesota Timberwolves single game scoring record, currently held at 52 by Mo Williams? That’s the question for this PBT Extra with Jenna Corrado.
The Bulls have said Derrick Rose is about a week away from returning after suffering a facial fracture this preseason.
The start of the NBA season is two weeks from today (Oct. 27).
So Rose will be ready to go when the Bulls start their season that first night against Cleveland, right? Don’t bet on it, says Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com, quoting coach Fred Hoiberg.
The opening night projection for a Derrick Rose return is a bit murky at this point, as the Bulls are taking a cautious approach to his recovery with Fred Hoiberg essentially ruling him out for the rest of the preseason.
“Most likely (out for the preseason),” Hoiberg said….
In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Rose sit out the first handful of games, as the Bulls start the season with a three-game in four-night stretch starting Oct. 27 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, which is in two weeks.
“That will be in consideration, sure,” Hoiberg said. “We gotta make sure, he really hasn’t done anything and that will be a good two or three weeks where he has total inactivity, so just to throw him back out there going 100 percent with his speed and everything, you just don’t want to take any risks, chances, where it could be a lingering issue.”
Just what TNT and the NBA hoped for with an opening night Bulls vs. Cavaliers showcase: Kirk Hinrich vs. Mo Williams. (Don’t forget Kyrie Irving will miss the start of the season recovering from his knee surgery.)
Of course, this is the smart play for the Bulls who need to be thinking about getting Rose fully healthy and focusing on what condition he will be come April 27, not Oct. 27.
And of course, a lot of Bulls fans who are down on Rose will slam him for this. Even though the injury was a freak accident and the team is right to be patient.
Rose could play opening night, if he gets back to practice next week and can get closer to basketball shape. But I wouldn’t bet on it.