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Adam Silver: NBA may consider occasional 10 a.m. tip-offs someday to accommodate Chinese market

Sep 4, 2014, 5:17 PM EDT

I’m sure you remember one of the challenges of the 2008 Beijing Olympics was the timing — it’s a 12 hour difference between the East Coast and Beijing, so an afternoon event at 2 p.m. went on in the middle of the night. Even a prime-time event at 8 p.m. was an early morning occasion in the states.

Now the NBA is dealing with that in reverse — China is a growing part of the NBA market but the games are on at terrible hours. You have to be a pretty diehard fan to wake up and schedule your morning around an 8 am NBA Finals game.

So how would Boston/New York fans feel about a 10 a.m. Knicks. vs. Celtics tip-off?

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver spoke with Bloomberg’s Stephanie Ruhle and Cory Johnson from the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit and said it could happen to some games down the line:

“I think the biggest challenge (to growing the game internationally) is the time zone differences. I mean, for example, in China, roughly 12 hours different from the East Coast. So prime time games are on early in the morning, so you have to figure out whether we need to create new products, condensed games that are shown later, whether it becomes a business of highlights, whether it’s equivalent of tweets and other forms of social media.

“I think that’s sort of — part of the biggest challenge. I mean, ultimately, whether we should consider time-shifting some of our games. Once the audience becomes big enough, maybe it’s not so crazy to ask a team once every two months to play a Saturday morning game….

“Yes, maybe when the audience gets big enough China and you’re reaching 100 million people in China to say so maybe once in a while a team will play at 10:00 on Saturday morning.”

Silver admitted the NBA isn’t there yet. Frankly, it’s not close. He said the short-term goal for the NBA might be to partner more with the existing Chinese Basketball Association and help them grow.

Besides, have you watched the Knicks’ 1 p.m. tip-off games at Madison Square Garden? They do a handful every season. The players look like they’re sleepwalking for the first half. The level of play drops noticeably. Now you want to move some games up three hours?

But this just shows you how much Silver, like David Stern before him, is thinking about the overseas markets. There certainly can be more growth of the game domestically, but that market does not come close to the overseas growth potential. The NBA is the premier league in a sport growing in popularity worldwide.

It’s all about the money, and while the players would hate it if moving some games around generates more money in international television revenues, you think the owners won’t sacrifice the quality of the game a little? I’m not sure they’d blink.

  1. motobus - Sep 4, 2014 at 5:45 PM

    Is it really too hard to work at 1pm? Maybe the Knicks players just refused to adjust their night life schedule.

    • Mr. Wright 212 - Sep 4, 2014 at 6:23 PM

      I would say the same to people who have to be at work at 8, do nothing productive until 11 am, after guzzling down a pot of coffee, and only managing to come semi-alive in the second half of the shift.

      Because it is very commonplace. They work into the night, later than 9 to 5ers, so expecting them to be prepared for a 10 am tipoff is lunacy.

      • ProBasketballPundit - Sep 5, 2014 at 1:25 PM

        Can’t believe you’re getting downthumbs for that. Every NBA player has build their whole livelihood around peaking physically around 7pm eastern time. To ask them to come into work 9 hours early is insane. They’re usually sleeping at 10am.

        I don’t really care if the NBA throws a few games to the China crowd but I wouldn’t expect them to be very good.

  2. redbaronx - Sep 4, 2014 at 5:50 PM

    I grew up in Israel watching NBA Finals games at 2am due to the 7 hour time difference. All I can say to the Chinese is “toughen up!”

    All jokes aside, I appreciate the fact they want to grow the game in China. It might also help us fight communism along the way…

    • 22yearsagotoday - Sep 5, 2014 at 5:53 PM

      Are you related to Joseph McCarthy?

      • redbaronx - Sep 8, 2014 at 1:50 PM


  3. eugenesaxe1 - Sep 4, 2014 at 5:53 PM

    Why not just send every team over there to play two games/season? I imagine that would be more interesting than A.M. hoops.

  4. Mr. Wright 212 - Sep 4, 2014 at 6:19 PM

    Can you imagine the numerous situations that would cause this to be a colossal mess?

    You are cutting into guys’ sobering-up periods LMAO.

  5. sportsfan18 - Sep 4, 2014 at 6:21 PM

    I volunteer the Knicks and the Lakers to do this every other Sat this season…

  6. drunkenjunk - Sep 4, 2014 at 6:37 PM

    This would be awesome. I love watching games late night/early morning. Its an 82 game season why not have each team do 6-8 10 AM games. If you’re getting paid millions of dollars you shouldn’t complain about having to wake up early like the majority of the country does.

    • sixerstrong - Sep 5, 2014 at 11:10 AM

      I agree. That’s one of the reasons why I enjoy watching Premier League soccer. There is nothing else on TV at that time of day.

  7. dablakdrphil - Sep 4, 2014 at 6:49 PM

    10 am tip offs are bad if you’re playing in the east coast. Games in the eastcoast start 7pm or later and usually don’t end until 10-11pm depending on if there are no overtime games. If a game ends around 1030 then you have whatever the coach is going to say post game, plus showers and dealing with the media. Not to mention players still have to eat dinner and usually don’t eat until midnight or later. By the time they’re settled in it’s already late at night.

    Don’t think the players or coaches will like that idea

    • Kevin S. - Sep 5, 2014 at 10:40 AM

      I don’t think they’ll be doing them as the second half of a back-to-back.

  8. BrownsTown - Sep 4, 2014 at 7:04 PM

    What’s the big deal? The difference between the PST and China is 15 hours, so a game tipping off at 8:00 PM in LA, Bay Area, Portland, etc would be on at 1:00 PM in China. On a weekend, that’s perfectly fine, no?

  9. campcouch - Sep 4, 2014 at 7:10 PM

    They won’t do it for the North American fans, but cater to the Chinese? Sure, because of trying to grow the game internationally. You mean get more money. Basketball is insanely popular in China already, there’s no need to adjust anything for them. The movies do it, the government does it and now our sports want to kowtow to China for a buck. How about leaving things as they are, an afternoon or evening enjoyment.

  10. 2drunk2dunk - Sep 4, 2014 at 7:22 PM

    just like starting the engine of a car your body needs time after waking up to calibrate and get itself ready for peak performance. people who’s tried hitting the weights early in the morning for a workout knows that performance is subpar

  11. hojo20 - Sep 4, 2014 at 7:48 PM

    How about the US fans? NBA finals games shouldn’t be ending at 11:30pm-12am on the East Coast.

    • Damidwesterner - Sep 4, 2014 at 10:25 PM

      Or later if it goes OT. When I was working, I never made it much into the 2nd half.
      On the flip side, I was on the west coast for a couple of the Finals games in 2012, and it was weird to have it end by about 8pm. And the overnight Sports Centers afterwards to kill the rest of the evening….

  12. phillyguyindc - Sep 4, 2014 at 7:52 PM

    Those Christmas day games at noon are usually ugly to watch. I can imagine what a 10 am game would look like.

  13. ninthwardfriend - Sep 4, 2014 at 9:47 PM

    I love it….

  14. mazblast - Sep 4, 2014 at 11:25 PM

    If I’m a season ticket holder shelling out thousands upon thousands of dollars a year for tickets, I don’t want to have to make it to the arena at TEN FREAKING AM for a game just so the Chinese can be happy.

  15. pillsbury13 - Sep 5, 2014 at 12:27 AM

    Some people don’t realize that these players don’t show up 30 minutes before a game to play. If a player needs treatment, they will arrive several hours prior to tip-off. I understand every business want to maximize their profit, but some of these ideas are getting ridiculous.

  16. elcaminobilly - Sep 5, 2014 at 1:57 AM

    I would have no problem with this. Due to the the health problems I have there are long stretches where I miss games due to sleeping through them. An early morning game would mean I could watch live, not the condensed replays. I would not want it to be regular, or in the playoffs, though. A couple of times a year? That would be good.

  17. tomasekradek - Sep 5, 2014 at 4:41 AM

    Yeah, everything for those ….. chinese bucks. In Europe (6 hours from ET) every single game, except sunday, is starting between 1 a.m. and 4.30 a.m. That means they’re unwatchable for working people. Does anyone care? No. Does anyone complains? No. But every commish is constantly suckin up to chinese. Why? Europe has, how many? 40? 50? 60 players? And in last 10 years there were about 3 chinese players i think.

    Pestilence to you Mr. Silver

    • eugenesaxe1 - Sep 6, 2014 at 6:25 PM

      Throw in a pox for good measure.

  18. 22yearsagotoday - Sep 5, 2014 at 5:55 PM

    West coast fans have been waking up to sports for years and years. The great thing is after all the games are done you still have time to do something besides go to bed.

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