NBA commissioner Adam Silver spoke at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston on Friday — the same conference Lakers owner Jeanie Buss disputed reports surrounding rumors about her team acquiring Anthony Davis.
While there, the fifth-year commissioner discussed a number of interesting ideas to improve the league — including shortening the season and replacing the All-Star game. He also brought up anxiety throughout the league, something much more prominent now than 20 years ago.
Replacing the All-Star game, shortening the NBA schedule
The All-Star game has lost its luster. There’s little debating that.
Despite the attempted fixes the league has implemented in recent years — like ramping up the dunk contest, having players draft the All-Star teams, and more — the weekend simply isn’t as fun as it once was.
Silver has noticed that too.
“The All-Star game didn’t work,” Silver said, calling it an “afterthought” of the weekend, via ESPN. “I get it. We put an earring on a pig.”
Instead of All-Star weekend, Silver floated the idea of having a midseason or preseason tournament instead — where teams would compete for a separate championship, kind of like in European soccer.
While there would be plenty of logistical issues to be worked out, a separate “mini-tournament” of sorts would certainly draw plenty of attention to the league — and could be an incredibly fun way to revamp the sport during its offseason or early in the year.
Silver also said he would consider shortening the regular season slightly, though not anytime soon. He discussed a 70-game schedule instead of the current 82-game one, but each team would have to give up six home games.
If they were to shorten the season, however, Silver said they would have to find a way to make up that lost revenue. A mini-tournament would be a great way to do so.
Silver on anxiety throughout the NBA
Mental health has been a major topic throughout the NBA in recent years.
Numerous players, including DeMar DeRozan and Kevin Love, detailed their battles with anxiety and mental health issues, and the league even recently launched a new mental health and wellness program.
The subject is no longer taboo in the league like it used to be, and Silver said he recognized that.
"We are living in a time of anxiety," Silver said, via ESPN. "I think it's a direct result of social media. A lot of players are unhappy.
“I’m an anxious person myself. That’s why the players like talking to me.”
When looking at the generation of players who played with Michael Jordan, he said teams then had much more “camaraderie.” Instead of bonding while on road trips, players are listening to their headphones. And when he meets players today, he’s noticed more feel “isolated and unhappy.”
Any of the changes Silver discussed likely wouldn’t be implemented anytime soon — at least not until the current collective bargaining agreement expires after the 2023-24 season.
Still, it’s interesting to hear the head of the league openly discuss possible fixes and changes that could be made to the NBA.
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