Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) today tweeted that a shorter NBA season would alleviate the problem of empty seats NBA arenas. His comment reminded me of this post I had suggesting a shorter regular season. Hope you (and Mr. Rovell) enjoy this “classic” from 2007.


As mentioned in the previous post, their has been considerable angst in the sport community about the NBA Playoffs. In particular TV ratings are cited as an ongoing issue, punctuated by the perception that the two best teams (PHX and SA) did not meet in The Finals. Remedies suggested have included eliminating Conference considerations in creating a 1-16 NCAA-type bracket and an NHL-esque re-seeding after each round.

But the view from here is that the post-season problem is merely a symptom of the ragged, lackluster regular season. For example, I conducted a quick study of the top two per game scorers on each team, presumably the most recognizable players to casual fans. These sixty players averaged 36.1 minutes and 20.2 points per game. They include most of the marquee names in the league. Yet, they averaged fewer than 68 games played, meaning on average each missed nearly 20 percent of the season. Wouldn’t owners/coaches/fans/TV networks want to maximize these players’ appearances? While some major injuries are always going to occur, a shorter season, with more consistent off days, would likely increase the ability of stars to shake off nagging injuries.

Thus the solution should be overhauling the length and scheduling of the regular season. As currently presented, the NBA schedule is and 82 game slate. My proposal calls for a drop to a 66 games, home/away against each of the other teams (29 x 2 = 58), plus an additional home/away against the four teams within a division (4 x 2 = 8).In addition to lessening player wear and tear, another advantage of shortening the schedule would be increased practice time. A frequent complaint about the league is that there is not enough time to implement coaching strategies during the grind of a season that has a lot of travel and few off days. By decreasing the number of games, more coaching and player development could take place.

From a fan perspective, fewer games would make following the league an easier proposition. Particularly, if the schedule were set up with a maximum of three games per week scheduled Wednesday through Sunday. By shuttering the league on Mondays and Tuesdays, fans could enjoy a few off days before gearing up for more games, similar to the rhythm of the NFL season. The majority of games would happen on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, with a national doubleheader on Thursday and Sunday. The only exceptions to this format would be Christmas and MLK Day games that are fine traditions.

Such a system would allow fans to establish viewing patterns and would drive media coverage on Monday and Tuesday to review the previous week and preview the next week’s slate. It would also spell the end of “the four games in five nights” problem currently employed for long road trips.

The 66 games could be played over the 23 weeks from roughly November 1 through April 7. This system would allow for a full week off around the All-Star game and have the regular season end the week after the NCAA Final Four, thus allowing the NBA to begin its post-season riding the wave of hoops frenzy following the Final Four.

Increasing in season viewership, limiting injuries and providing a better overall product during the regular season would likely do more to fix the perceived playoff problem than any other proposal.