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George Karl thinks NBA would be better with shorter season

Sep 24, 2012, 10:38 AM EDT

Denver Nuggets head coach George Karl watches his team play against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 6 of their NBA Western Conference basketball playoffs in Denver Reuters

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.

  1. money2long - Sep 24, 2012 at 10:50 AM

    less games probably mean more stamina/less injuries, which contribute to better quality of play
    more games mean more fan opportunities/more money and a happier david stern.

    i like more games. but i think less games would actually make guys play better because they won’t be so burned out. maybe even better post season. but the beauty of more games mean GMs put more thought into the supporting cast. more games make role players more valuable. coaches will try to find more players that can contribute to preserve their more important players as much as possible. in this case, i would think role players would like more games because it makes them a commodity.

  2. ulyses20 - Sep 24, 2012 at 11:19 AM

    I disagree with the part of “Shrink the schedule and you shrink how much season ticket holders have to pay”. If they shrink the schedule each games become for important for each team, therefore the teams could charge more for each game which will add up to the say amount if they were paying less for more games. Similar like the NFL, they can charge more for each game because they have fewer games to play. The same thing goes for endorsements, they can charge them more.

    • nbascreed - Sep 24, 2012 at 1:28 PM

      NBA tickets aren’t commodities and your normal supply/demand won’t just magically apply b/c you artificially reduce your supply. I’m sure the league models this scenario every year with every input imaginable and it always comes back as no dice. It would take too long (my guess is about 8-10 years) to change both the local and national perception of the value of a single game.

      • michaeljordanseviltwin - Sep 24, 2012 at 2:59 PM

        Well said. And you’re right.

  3. paleihe - Sep 24, 2012 at 11:34 AM

    “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.”

    There’s no law that says the regular season has to end mid April. They can extend that to not have all these back-to-back-to-back games.

  4. somekat - Sep 24, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    If the producet is better, and interest is higher, TV deals should cancel out. Networks will pay the same amount for 60 games getting 20% viewership than they would for playing 80 games at 12% viewership

  5. whodatnhollywood - Sep 24, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    62 games with the regular season starting Thanksgiving week would be great. By Christmas, most of the teams should be tuned up by then.

  6. shzastl - Sep 24, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    It always comes down to money, but why is 82 the magic number to maximize earnings? Wouldn’t they make still more money if they had 100 or 120 games?

  7. 00maltliquor - Sep 24, 2012 at 8:31 PM

    Hate the idea of less games, but it makes waaay to much sense in so many ways. Therefore, I think I DO like it!

    Games spread further apart, games mean a little more, less injuries (in theory), gives me a little more time to focus on the football season (file that under personal reasons ;-) ), players playing with more energy, thus putting out a better product. Me likes.

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