NBA to reportedly offer purchase of the last five minutes of League Pass games, Red Zone-style

Ball Don't Lie
James Harden sees the lights go on. (Getty Images)
James Harden sees the lights go on. (Getty Images)

The NBA, the cliché goes, is only worth following in the last two minutes of a close game. However, the league wants to hear this repeated as much as it would like to discuss the usefulness of its Last Two Minute reports, so that particular egg timer is off the table.

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The last five minutes of a game? If you have a valid form of payment, then the NBA will talk.

In an interview with Diamond Leung at SportsTechie, league commissioner Adam Silver discussed the possibility of an option that would allow fans, upwardly mobile as it were, to purchase the last five minutes of a 48 minute-long NBA game via its League Pass package:

“Certainly we’re going from a place where it was one price for an entire season of games,” Silver said, referring to NBA LEAGUE PASS. “Now just in the last two years, we’ve made single games available. But I think you’re going to get to the point where somebody wants to watch the last five minutes of the game, and they go click, they’ll pay a set price for five minutes as opposed to what they would pay for two hours of the game. So I think you’re going to take the same great content, and you’re just going to make it that much more available to people who want it.”


“I think you’re going to hit the point where for example…you’re on a Twitter feed or you get an alert. I think there will be a lot more sophisticated alerts, and you’ll see ‘I know Sue Bird, I like Sue Bird, Sue Bird’s going for a record-setting game.’ And then you’re going to go click, and then you’re going to get the game.”

Sue Bird is a badass, a future Hall of Famer, and the NBA is rightfully always looking to promote the WNBA. We love Sue Bird, and you should watch her this summer as much as possible. Why Silver chose a WNBA player in this regard, coming from a WNBA fan, seems a bit goofy.

Still, this idea comes on the heels of the league allowing for single-game purchases of League Pass games. League Pass, created just before the start of this century, allows for subscribers to access all out-of market contests that aren’t nationally televised, a crucial need for the financially secure NBA fan that wants to see Russell Westbrook take on the Denver Nuggets as much as he or she does the Houston Rockets on TNT.

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Social media conversations and instant alerts conveniently married into the NBA watcher’s lifestyle ages ago, with the #LeaguePassAlert hashtag organically growing as a way to remind both fan and professional observer alike to tune into the Washington/Charlotte contest that just became interesting with three and a half minutes left in the final quarter.

Allowing fans to actually pay for high-quality (League Pass-willing, as many users still have major issues easily accessing games featured both online and on mobile devices) endings to games would hardly hurt the brand, nor would it act as a sign that the NBA has given up on convincing fair-weather fans that points in the first quarter count for as much as points scored in the final period. It would add more coin to the league’s coffers and eventually convince heaps of non-subscribers to finally give in and purchase the entire package full stop – as repeatedly purchasing Last Five Minutes (we can capitalize these things now, right?) options would soon vault your season-long bill over the $200 price of the full League Pass experience.

And if you think otherwise, you just don’t know the NBA. This is the league that would tattoo a shoe company insignia on Jerry West’s forehead if it meant adding a few more million to the pie.

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We’re decades past the point in time that saw ESPN’s “SportsCenter” turn the next morning’s newspaper into an anachronism of sorts. At this point, through these myriad social media connections or even just a text from dad, we’re well aware of the narrative, the details, the performers and just what’s on the line well before an NBA contest even ends. It only makes sense for the league to continue to promote its product in order to encourage fans to find out just what the last five minutes of a 53-point, 17-assist, 16-rebound game might look like.

It looks pretty astonishing. The NBA would do well to make sure it was worth your dollar.

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Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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