x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Condensed calendar comes at a price for NBA fans

The crowded schedule could be damaging for teams with older players.

And now for your new NBA season, the condensed version.

The last time the NBA and its players emerged from a labour dispute was during the 1998/99 season. They salvaged only 50 games per team that year, instead of the normal 82. The San Antonio Spurs won the championship, and Phil Jackson, the Los Angeles Lakers coach at the time, often teased the Spurs that their title should come with an asterisk. The Spurs were not amused.

Jackson, however, was making clear that 1998/99 was an abnormal event, and if he were coaching this season he could say the same of 2011/12.

Each team will play 66 games during a 124-day span, and the crowded schedule could be damaging for teams with older players, such as the Lakers, who open the season with three games in three days. They have another three-games-in-three-days stretch in January, and that one also involves three cities.

Conversely, it could benefit teams with rising stars, such as Oklahoma City (Kevin Durant), Chicago (Derrick Rose) and the Los Angeles Clippers (Blake Griffin). Young legs, and all.

No one is complaining much about the strange calendar because 66 games means more revenue than, say, 60, which is about what they would normally play from Christmas forward.

We soon shall see which veterans come up lame because of overwork, and which just sit some games to rest their old bones. Both scenarios are bad for fans, but why should they matter now?