The NBA is a business.
Basketball is a game so many of us love and miss. There is a longing among hoops fans to see the NBA return to play, both for the entertainment and for the glimmer of hope it provides that lives upended by the coronavirus will start to return to normal.
NBA teams and players wanted the league to return for financial reasons — the business is hurting and they need to get it restarted. Marc Stein and Brooks Barnes put it well in the New York Times.
Officials from several clubs, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the league has discouraged public discourse about its finances, did not dispute the notion in interviews this week that monetary motivations are largely behind the comeback.
How much money?
NBA players were set to lose $645 million in salary if the rest of the regular season was canceled, but the return for 88 “seeding games” — eight games for each of the 22 teams in Orlando — which can be broadcast on local networks will bring $300 million in salary back to players, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN. NBA franchises will see an influx of money from these games as well.
Money isn’t the only motivation for an NBA return. The players wanted meaningful games before the playoffs started so they could get their legs under them and reduce injuries. There is value in crowning a champion for the season.
More importantly, a return of the NBA will give players and coaches a platform to use their voices to push for needed changes in our nation around the topics of the Black Lives Matter movement, police use of force, and institutional racism.
Just make no mistake, the NBA is a business first and foremost, and the return to play is ultimately about the money.