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Wednesday, May 9, 2012
David Stern: NBA to consider short season

By Beckley Mason and Henry Abbott

On Tuesday, David Stern told CBS’s Jim Rome that the NBA owners would discuss whether to follow a shorter schedule -- like this successful lockout-shortened one -- going forward.

However Stern doesn’t anticipate changes soon, because, more or less, change is hard and potentially expensive.

"The reason you don't make it a shorter year is because of the infrastructure that's been built,” said Stern.

“You have all of the buildings that have been selling an 82-game schedule. You have these local TV deals. You have these network TV deals. So, we'd have to negotiate with our players to take 20 percent less every year on the salaries that they're getting. That is a problem."

That would indeed be a problem, if indeed that's how it turned out.

But how much less players would make is probably not yet knowable. Currently, player salaries make up a percentage of Basketball Relate Income. Players only played 66 out of 82 games, but they could get more than 66/82nds of their normal salaries. This is especially true if sources are correct saying that TV revenues were close to those in a normal 82-game season.

This idea of a shorter season is not new at all. In fact, Shane Battier believes a shorter season would make for better, more compelling (and thus more lucrative) basketball. He explains in a 2008 interview: “The NBA season only needs to be fifty games. I think the fans would love it because every game would mean so much more, like in college where every game is so important. Players would love it because it saves wear and tear on their bodies. I think TV people would like it because more people would watch. I just think it would be a great thing."

During the lockout, our Kevin Arnovitz wrote convincingly about the same idea, only he suggests 44 games would be the perfect amount. Many others have chimed in, too.

Even if the 82 game season is here for the foreseeable future, this shortened year reminds us that change is possible and allows us to question the league's time-honored conventions.

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