You can’t make everyone happy. For the fans, the game goes on too long. For the players, the season goes on too long and for the owners, the season probably doesn’t go on long enough.
It’s almost like reading Goldilocks.
This past Sunday the NBA experimented with a 44 minute pre-season game between the Nets and the Celtics. The game consisted of four 11 minute quarters, and while the game was significantly shorter than normal, if implemented, it has the potential to murder stats and records, giving up four minutes every single game. No single change will please everyone, but here are the most beneficial results for the different parties involved in the game.
The average NBA game takes 2 hours and 15 minutes. With the length of a game being 48 minutes, even if you add roughly 12 minutes for free throws, fouls, stoppages etc., there would still be more commercial time than game time. The fans love their hoops, so solution should not be to take away time from the game, but take away timeouts.
The timeout has lost its value in the NBA. In the NFL, when you use a timeout early in the half, it’s crucial. Fans find themselves saying, “The team is going regret that at the end of the half.” But in the NBA, timeouts are given out more than Willy Wonka chocolate bars. How often does it seem that with three minutes left, both teams somehow have two timeouts and several 20’s left? Each team starts a game with six full and two 20 second timeouts. Even if those numbers were cut down to 4 full timeouts and two 20’s, it would do wonders. Timeouts would be more spread out, the game would go faster and the entire concept of valuing the timeout would be upped.
Recently, both Dirk Nowitzki and LeBron James came out and said that they would like the regular season shortened. Preferably, the number of games would be somewhere in the mid-60s compared to the 82 game schedule currently in place. LebBron even said he thinks the players could take longer games, playing 50 minutes, as long as the season itself was shorter. Too many times teams come out flat because it’s their third game in four nights, all on the road, and they’re simply out of gas. Last January Jeff Van Gundy even told ESPN’s The Herd, “I feel awful that we make them watch back-to-back games that often turn out to be, you know, low-energy affairs. I think the league has to eliminate back-to-back games, or at least reduce the number.” If you could lose 15-20 games to get better production for the other 60-something, most basketball fans would take that deal.
Mush, mush, mush! More games! Ya! Ya! A hundred—no, a thousand! Eight games in four days! Okay, that may be a tad exaggeration, but the point remains. While it’s important to the owners to have winning teams, the more the games the merrier. Every game, win or lose, means more ticket sales, promotions, merchandise sale, hot dogs and beers sold. It’s why playoff series were extended from best of five to best of seven games and although fans many complain about the length of the season, those arenas, especially for the cream of the crop, will still find ways to fill up. At the end of the day, sports at the professional level boil down to one thing: MONEY. Until that changes, don’t expect a cut in games anytime soon, and don’t be surprised if you see the opposite.
Before I am writer, radio host or anything else, I am first and foremost a fan. It’s why I do what I do. I love basketball more than anything on God’s green earth, but like many, I love good basketball a whole lot more. I want more games with fresh legs, not superstars playing 82 games and guys having to take ice baths for an entire day so they can find a way to get out onto the court that night.
A movie buff doesn’t just want to see any movie, a fisherman doesn’t want to catch just any fish and Joey Chestnut does not want to eat just any hotdog. Likewise, basketball fans don’t just want to see any brand of basketball. We want good movies, big fish, Nathan’s Hot Dogs and quality hoops. I say, 65 great games over 82 good ones every time.
Follow David on Twitter @Dshug24 and listen to him on “Friday Morning Blitz” Fridays from 10-11am