NBA

If the NBA wants to rejuvenate fan interest, it must make more significant tweaks to the basketball calendar

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has introduced his latest ideas to attract more interest in the Association. With fan interest dwindling during the league’s marathon regular season and meaningless games taking place regularly, the league’s head honcho is seeking ways to keep fans coming to games and watching on television. Add in the plethora of entertainment options individuals have and basketball isn’t on the top of everyone’s list as a must-see event.

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The NBA’s plan to change the professional basketball calendar in North America is quite a significant one. Silver has proposed a cup tournament that would be played in the early months of the seasons with November kicked around as the time period in which it would take place. The cup tournament would somewhat resemble domestic cup basketball tournaments on continental Europe.

Silver’s current plan to shake up the Association’s regular season is to reduce the season by four games. That would take the calendar for the regular season from 82 to 78. A four-game reduction isn’t much but with NBA owners seeking revenue for their investment in the league, it is unlikely they would agree to fewer games.

It makes far more sense, however, for the NBA to make more drastic changes with its calendar to make it more exciting. The NBA has 30 teams in the league and reducing the regular-season schedule to 58 games would make it even more interesting. Fewer games make each fixture mean more. So why not have the 30 teams play a simple home and away series against each other for a total of 58 games?

Obviously, reducing the regular season by 24 games would see the NBA’s teams lose millions of dollars in profits. However, the league could use the cup tournament it is planning to off-set financial losses.

There is a belief that the NBA’s cup tournament will give teams which are not contenders for the league’s championship a chance to win silverware thus raising the interest of fans. Although it seems like somewhat of a good idea, will fans really embrace a cup tournament only to see their favourite team miss out on the playoffs which are deemed more important?

The cup tournament would give the NBA the chance to rest star players, something those individuals have wanted more of during the season, but it would only give them time off at the start of the year. The adjusted calendar would add far more meaningful games at the end of the year and backload the schedule.

To further entice fans back to watching the pro basketball league as they did in the 1990s, the Association is considering re-seeding teams in the playoffs. This would possibly give the “best teams” from the regular season the chance to play in the NBA Finals and marquee match-ups could be more common in the postseason.

Any change the Association makes has to be approved by the NBA Players Association, so it isn’t a foregone conclusion any tweak to the calendar will pass. The league would like to implement the new calendar for the 2021-22 season. The league’s schedule change would be the most significant ever if it is put into place. It would also shake-up the big 3 sports in North America in terms of league formats.