Looking Ahead To The NBA Restart…

I have recommended Sally Jenkins’ columns many times in the history of these rants.  Her latest column in the Washington Post from yesterday is excellent; you can find it here.  The main message is that the NFL has known that Danny Boy Snyder is a hot mess as an owner; and therefore, the NFL owns a piece of the current sexual harassment mess.  Let me give you one paragraph from the middle of the column to whet your appetite:

“Roger Goodell and Snyder’s fellow owners know exactly who and what Snyder is from league meetings. He operates with a combination of panting twerpism, incurable nastiness, and wormy duplicity, throwing human shields and checkbooks in front of him to absorb the blast injuries caused by his behavior.”

Yesterday, I anticipated the start of the 2020 MLB season that will happen here in DC in the evening.  Soon after that emergence, the NBA will re-emerge from its season-interruptus with a two-week finish to the regular season followed by the playoffs.  The teams are now in a bubble in Orlando and will remain there so long as the teams continue to play.  Games will be in empty arenas which will make for interesting TV.  A reader sent me an e-mail yesterday reminding me that basketball shoes make a lot of noise on a basketball floor; that noise is hidden for the most part by crowd noise at a “normal” NBA game but that it will be very noticeable in an empty arena.  I agree; it will be a different experience.

There is also the possibility that the networks will need to put in a short delay on the telecasts.  Without a crowd, it is more than merely possible that commentary between and among the players will be “loud and clear”.  Let us just say that all such verbal exchanges are not aligned with “G-Rated” or even “PG-Rated” television.  Once again, the normal crowd noise would tend to drown out such language.

Several folks have asked me over the past month or so why the NBA went to such lengths to concoct a partial ending to its “regular season” and why they did not just take the playoff eligible teams and start the playoffs from the beginning.  It should not be a huge shock for anyone to learn that the answer is money.

  • NBA teams have local TV contracts in addition to the national TV deals that the league negotiates with the networks.  Most of those local contracts have a clause in there that requires the individual team to provide the network with a minimum of 70 regular season games to put on the air.
  • When the NBA pulled the plug on the original schedule for its games, teams had played between 65 and 67 games.  Almost all the teams would have lost plenty of money on those local TV deals.  But with the addition of some more “regular season games”…

The question then becomes, why not let every team “finish its season”.  I think logistics gets in the way of that one.  The NBA wants to begin its playoffs by mid August – – again for financial reasons:

  • The NBA does not want to have to go up against MLB’s World Series and NFL regular season games (assuming both take place). That could depress TV ratings significantly and that is not a financial plus.
  • That means keeping the playoffs contained to September and early October.
  • As it stands now with some teams “eliminated” from play, the schedule in the bubble is crammed with games such that the regular season ends on August 14.  Some days will see 7 games played in the 3 gyms available for play.  The “early game” will start at 1:00 PM EDT and the “late game” will tip off at 9:00 PM.  Imagine trying to squeeze another 50 games or so with those sorts of schedule/deadline/facility constraints.

The players and the league may not agree on everything, but they do seem united on one topic where they are engaged in preemptive conditioning.  Both the league and the players assert that whoever wins the 2020 NBA Championship should not have an asterisk placed next to their accomplishment. The “party line” is that winning the title this year will be much more difficult a task than winning it in a normal season.  [Aside:  That is a dumb stance to take from a PR point of view.  In future years, it is unlikely that the league will have to do what it did back in March.  So, therefore, all future NBA Champions will have done something easier than this year’s champion?  All future champs are chumps by comparison?  How dumb is that?]  Players, coaches and even The Commish are championing that line of reasoning.

Lest you think I am exaggerating the “party line” here, consider these remarks from Clippers’ coach, Doc Rivers:

“Whoever comes out of this, it’s going to come down to mental toughness.  There’s going to be so many things thrown at us that we don’t even know yet.  I’ll use the Navy SEALs as an example.  They get deployed and don’t know the situation.  They don’t know when exactly they’re going, but they keep preparing so that they’re ready when called upon.  The way I look at it, our situation is like that.  I feel like we’re going to be deployed for a mission in Orlando and we have to have great mental toughness to finish it.”

Normally, I pay a lot of attention to what Doc Rivers has to say, but that sort of rhetoric is a bit over the top for me.

Finally, for those who plan to tune in to the Nationals/Yankees game to inaugurate the 2020 MLB season, there is good news and bad news:

  • Good News:  The Nationals’ tradition of the “racing Presidents” will continue to happen “albeit in altered form” – – whatever that means.
  • Bad News:  The Nats’ bald eagle mascot, Screech, will not be present for any of the Nats’ home games this season.

Or … do I have the good news and bad news reversed?

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



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