When the NBA started up on Christmas Day last year, more than one person I know — some friends who are more casual NBA fans, some people within the sports media industry — told me they liked the NBA season starting later.
George Karl is with them.
In an article at NBA.com article by Steve Aschburner primarily about how coaches are happy to have a full training camp again, the veteran Nuggets coach voted for a shorter season.
“I’m sure Commissioner Stern won’t like this, but I think the product would be better if we shortened the season. When we start playing in late October, the people are thinking football. If you could just get us less fatigue [in a shorter season], I think you’d have a better product. When they started on Christmas Day, I thought, ‘This is not a bad idea. This should be the start of NBA basketball … Maybe start Dec. 1 and play 62 games, whatever number they’d come to.”
Why doesn’t that happen? Money. It’s always money.
Shrink the schedule and you shrink how much season ticket holders have to pay, how much sponsors pay to reach them, most importantly how much television will pay to broadcast the game (locally and nationally). That means players would make less, too. The overall pool of money would shrink. And if you think the owners want the pool of money to shrink you were not paying attention during the lockout.
That said, the problem with the shorter schedule last year from a quality perspective was how condensed it was, the back-to-back-to-backs and so on. Guys wore down because of the lack of rest. Karl is right, if NBA teams started on Christmas and played 60 games or fewer there likely would be a better product and more attention to the regular season because each game would mean more.
There would just be less money. And we can’t have that.