LeBron James And Other NBA Stars Lead The Charge In Campaign To Reduce Season
When the best player in the planet speaks, you listen. Unfortunately in this case, his thoughts probably won’t be taken into consideration.
This all started with the idea of having 44-minute games by the NBA. The league will experiment this on Oct. 19 when the Celtics take on Nets in a preseason game at Barclays Center. Although shortening games to 44 minutes could help keep the players fresh, several notable players and coaches prefer a shortened season.
"I don't think it's a matter of how long the game is," Miami Heat head coach Spoelstra said, via Zach Harper of CBSSports.com. "I think there's too many games, to be frank. I think if there's some way to find a way to cut out some of the back-to-backs so there aren't 20-plus of them. I think that's the bigger issue, not shaving off four minutes in a particular game. But I'm open to seeing what happens with that."
James told the media on Tuesday that in a perfect world, he would like to have a season similar to the lockout-shortened 2011 campaign when teams were limited to 66 games – minus the grueling back-to-back-to-back games, obviously. In fact, that year, Richard Sandomir of the New York Times made the case for a shortened schedule. If there were more time in between games, players would have the chance to recover from injuries and return to the court faster than they would in an 82-game season. Here’s what one of the newest member of the Cavaliers had to say:
“At the end of the day, we want to protect the prize and the prize is the players," James said, via The Cleveland Plain Dealer. "We have to continue to promote the game and if guys are being injured because there are so many games, then we can't promote it at a high level. We got two of our top guys in our league out right now. I'm not saying it's because of the games, but anything will help."
If anyone cane relate to the wear-and-tear of the dog days of winter, it’s LeBron and Durant. Based on their minutes, both players have essentially played an extra season over the last 3 1/2 years. With Durant already out with a broken foot, the question becomes: How long will it take for a guy like James to burn out?
You'd be hard-pressed to find any fans who disagree with them, especially if this improved the competition level. Unfortunately, there are major hurdles that stand in the way of this ever happening. The league just extended its deal with ESPN and Turner Sports for nine more years which will increase league television revenues to $2.6 billion, and that's based on an 82-game schedule for every team. The salary cap is going to take a major jump once the new agreement begins before the start of the 2016-17 season. Will the players lose part of their salaries based on a shorter schedule? And what about the sponsors? Are sponsors going to offer owners less because of a condensed schedule? Mavericks star forward Dirk Nowitzki is also a fan of reducing the regular season from 82 games to the "mid-60s," but understands what’s at stake, per ESPN Dallas.
"I think you don't need 82 games to determine the best eight in each conference," Nowitzki said. "That could be done a lot quicker, but I always understand that it's about money, and every missed game means missed money for both parties, for the league, for the owners, for the players. I understand all that, and that's why I don't think it's going to change anytime soon."
The current CBA doesn't expire until after the 2020–21 season, so stars like Nowitzki won't be around to experience a less strenuous season. Maybe they'll eliminate back-to-backs by then.
Photos via Getty
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