November 7, 2015
The NBA season is so long it plays through 9 months, in fact, hockey feels compelled to duplicate this feat. Is this good for the sport? It’s certainly good for hard core fans and advertising sponsors of various products. When fans are disappointed when a key player is injured by the time the playoffs come around, you have your problem in full display. The NBA and the NHL play 82 games, with both regular seasons ending in April. Both leagues play three rounds of playoffs before the finals which extends both seasons into June. The NHL requires four best of seven series victories while the NBA starts with a best of five then moving to the best of seven. The NHL can claim to have the most brutal season of them all, congratulations. This gives the league champion the chance to play one hundred games and be the studliest of them of all.
It is very apparent that the teams that have the deepest and healthiest pool of talent will win more games. If you watched last year’s NBA finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers were missing a lot of their core players while their opponent, the Golden State Warriors benefited by having their whole team fairly healthy. I have to laugh when people would say they got lucky that they didn’t have to face the full Cleveland squad. I say that were smart to have a flexible ten-man rotation that was more rested and healthier. I think the coaches are starting to realize that the statistic, “minutes played” is something to consider for the benefit of the team. Sometimes injuries happen that cannot be avoided, but then again, some injuries are inflamed by having to be exposed to more activity. Players are expected to play with aches and pains, but a good organization will find ways to use their whole team and not grind down the star players.
I don’t see the seasons getting any shorter anytime soon, if anything the leagues have tried to expand the playoff season. In this October you had the NBA, MLB, NHL and NFL all playing at the same time, good for sports fans, long seasons for players. You can look at preseason predictions for a team’s projections, it is amazing when you see how many of the same players are on the opening day starting line ups versus the end of the season. Injuries are becoming more and more a common denominator in today’s sports world. The sooner teams adapt to that reality and make adjustment to preserve their strength and health for the long haul, the more success they will have. The days of seeing Cal Ripken, the modern day “Ironman” of sports, who played in 2632 games consecutive games are going to be a thing of the past. Players are paid so much now and are commodities that need to be healthy and performing at optimum performance.