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Robison: Length of season hinders NBA (Nov. 1)

Matthew Robison | Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Like it or not, the NBA is back. For the next eight months, the world of sports will be filled with stories of what Kobe Bryant’s hand feels like at the moment, how many wins the Heat will hypothetically win in the regular season and where Deron Williams might be dealt before the trade deadline.

The NBA definitely has its merits. Basketball fans get to watch the world’s greatest athletes go toe to toe night in and night out. Watching LeBron James and Derrick Rose play basketball is a privilege. They do it better than anyone else on the planet. For that reason, I understand why plenty of people love the NBA.

But professional basketball certainly has its drawbacks. Other than being turned into an everlasting drama by the media, I have one major beef with the NBA. And I think it accounts for the many of the problems we see with the league.

The season, and especially the postseason, is simply way too long. Playing 82 games over six months is exorbitant. Inevitably, certain players go down with injuries, from fatigue or otherwise, and the season is immediately impacted. While it was somewhat of a freak injury, Derrick Rose’s ACL injury during the opening round of the postseason would have been avoided with a shorter season. Dirk Nowitzki, one of the league’s most popular players, is out for the first 10 games of the season because of a knee injury resulting from overuse.

Because of the season’s length, older players don’t play every game. Frequently, veterans take extended breaks during the season so they can gear up for the postseason. On top of that, it’s easy to see teams concede games if they fall way behind. Unlike college basketball, professional football and college football, regular season games simply don’t carry the clout they would carry if the regular season were shorter.

Important players rest against weak opponents. Coaches pull their starters if a game is out of reach. Players give up in games. It’s something that’s rarely seen in any other league. But I’ve seen it happen all too often in the NBA. I do not doubt the work ethic of the players, the strategy of coaches or the desire to win. I just think it’s hard to put so much effort into one game when the season is made up of 82.

Even further, more than half the teams make the playoffs. If a team is in good position in the conference, they need not worry about their positioning as it relates to one game. Sometimes, teams even take a look at the standings and decide they would actually prefer to lose. For example, if the Heat see a dangerous-looking Hawks team sitting at No. 4 in the standings. They might rather play the third-seeded Pacers in the second round, whatever the case may be. Because of the length of the season, they could actually manipulate their wins and losses to create this scenario. This may happen in other sports, but I don’t think it’s nearly as feasible as it is in the NBA.

The solution is simple. Shorten the season. I know owners might gripe about lost revenue. But in the end I think the NBA brand would be strengthened.

But just like you might have mixed feelings about this column, love it or hate it, the NBA is back – and for a while.

Contact Matthew Robison at mrobison@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this Sports Authority are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer. 

  • Daniel McGlynn

    The Derrick Rose ACL injury at the start of the playoffs in 2012 happened after an already shortened season and he had missed multiple games already in the shorten season before going down with the ACL injury so you can’t say it wouldn’t of happened in a shortened season because it did happen in a shortened season.