Steve Kerr Feels Bad For NBA Fans, But Load Management Isn’t The Issue | 58-Game Schedule Is The Answer

Last Friday the Golden State Warriors rested Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the second night of a back-to-back. There were upset fans who only get to see Curry and company once per season, and the move ignited the “what about the fan” debate, when it comes to load management. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr feels for the fans and says he will continue to advocate for a 72-game season.

But that still won’t solve the real issue.

“I feel terrible for fans who buy tickets expecting to see someone play and they don’t get to see that person play,” Kerr said. “It’s a brutal part of the business. It’s why I’m going to continue to advocate for 72-game seasons.
“You take 10 games off the schedule, it always feels like with 10 games left in the year everybody’s sort of had it anyways. That creates enough rest where we don’t have to have some of these crazy situations. I think you’d see way fewer games missed from players.”

First, when anyone purchases tickets to a live event there is no guarantee that you are going to see who you want to see. That’s the chance you take with live events, specifically live athletic events.

For instance if you bought tickets to see Denzel Washington in “The Iceman Cometh” and he was sick and you saw the understudy instead, you’d be disappointed for sure. But all that ticket guaranteed you was the play, which still proceeded.

Load Management Isn’t The Problem

Same with an NBA game. Tickets to the Warriors vs. Cavaliers doesn’t entitle you to see Curry and Donovan Mitchell, etc. It entitles you to a game between the Warriors and Cavaliers, which took place.

These are the breaks.

Eliminating 10 games from the schedule will get rid of back-to-backs, which is a good thing. But that still barely reduces the number of loads a player has over seven days.

On average an NBA team plays 3.6 games over a seven-day period. With many weeks consisting of four games in seven nights.

That’s too many games.

Players and coaches don’t want to load manage. But they have to do so because they need rest and recovery days.

Players today enter the NBA with far more mileage and wear and tear on their bodies than players of previous generations.

It’s Time For The 58-Game Regular Season

The NBA currently has 30 teams, if each team plays the other 29 twice (home and away) that’s a 58-game season. If played over the same mid October to April time period, you wouldn’t have more than two games played by any team over a seven day period.

For those of you crying over lost revenue, figure it out. Sell more jersey sponsorships.

Since the season will be shorter the games will have more impact. Sell the “Race to the Playoffs” as a separate broadcast package.

With a shortened season you could really do something big with the in-season tournament. Make it like European Football Champions League and sell it as a separate broadcast package.

Enhance the second screen experience using Next Gen stats and AI, make it a true immersive or VR experience. Charge some tech company a bundle for the naming rights.

The NBA offices are filled with brilliant sports marketing professionals. No doubt better ideas than these have been brainstormed at countless meetings. Just because you can’t immediately see where the money is going to come from, doesn’t mean cutting the season isn’t the right thing to do.

A 58-game schedule would allow for a recovery day, a strength training day, a practice day (coaches will be happy about this), a cardio and skill development day and film study. None of these things happen during the regular season. Players often strength train immediately following a game or the morning of, and there is essentially no practice during the regular season.

I have independently spoken to sports scientists, trainers and sports medicine professionals over the past two years. They all agree an 82-game regular season is too taxing a load on the body. Two physical loads (games) over a seven day period is the consensus by that informal group.

The game is too taxing to adhere to the antiquated 82-game model. If the league wants to preserve players, increase interest and evolve with modern sport science, it’s the right move.

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