While I enjoy basketball, the NBA regular season has always been is a tough sell for me. Why isn’t NBA League Pass part of my DirecTV package? A few reasons:
The timing of the season. When the NBA tips-off after a far too-short off-season, both the NFL and college football are just getting to the meat of their seasons. Unless you’re a Detroit Lions fan, which means your team has long since been mathematically eliminated. And then when the NFL season is over and all of the NCAA bowl games have been played, it’s all of a sudden crunch time in college basketball, followed by March Madness, which is still the single most enjoyable event in sports.
The number of games. 82 games. 82. Come on. There’s nothing in this world — including that — that I want to see, do, taste, or smell 82 times a year. Remember when the 1998-1999 NBA season was shortened to fifty games due to a players strike? That was definitely a case of addition by subtraction, and even then the season was too long.
I know what you’re saying. “Well, baseball has 162 games a year. That’s twice as many!” But baseball has the advantage of having most of its season played at a time of year when its biggest competition is the WNBA. What would you do in July if it wasn’t for baseball? Spend time with the family? Yeah, sure. And despite the sheer number of games, given that so fewer baseball teams make the playoffs than basketball teams, there are more meaningful MLB games than meaningful NBA games. (Unless of course, you’re a Detroit Tigers fan. Sorry, Detroit. But you do have the Super Bowl this year. Not to mention 48 White Castle restaurants.) Plus, baseball is simply better than basketball. Sorry.
The NBA playoff structure. Now this I like. 16 teams. Almost two months long. A possibility of 105 games. Here the postseason cliche “second season” really applies, as the playoffs seem to last as long as a regular season should. Unfortunately for the NBA, it means that the “first season” is largely irrelevant. The playoffs provide for plenty of action, even if those 1 seed vs. 8 seed series first-round series are about as compelling as a Lindsay Lohan album.
Ticket prices. Again, some fans — including myself — might be more excited about the NBA regular season if the cost of a Bucks game was somewhere in line with the cost of a Brewers game. But Bucks tickets can easily set you back over a hundred dollars, while you can get good seats at a Brewers game for $20-$30. And if you go to a Brewers game, you don’t have to listen to Bob Uecker on the radio. Definite plus.
Given all of these strikes against the NBA, regional interest in the sport was supposed to be at a high this season because of the purported resurgence of the Milwaukee Bucks. Is it? And have the Bucks improved? That’s fodder for my next blog entry. (The cliffhanger. Such a cheap journalistic trick.)