As we look back, just about 6 months ago, whether or not we would see a 2011-12 NBA season was in serious jeopardy. The selfish owners and even more selfish players could not meet eye to eye on almost any of the subjects of debate and called off talks multiple times. Every time we thought it might be in the home stretch there was another setback to spoil the start to the season. But looking back as the regular season has come to a close, we have to ask…was the shortened season a blessing in disguise?
While many will point to the severe spike of injuries thanks to the shortened season (even David Stern acknowledges the possibility), we have to consider that much of this was because of the condensed schedule and rapid fire road trips teams had to endure throughout the season. A 66 game season itself had little to do with the injuries, rather it was how the games were scheduled that did. But in 66 games, the NBA had its usual ebbs and flows as it would in an 82 game season. We still saw the cream of the crop rise to the top both as teams and individual players, and we saw enough games to have a clear idea as to which teams have the best chance at winning it all, so what is the problem with 66 games?
Critics of the idea would claim their argument on three foundations:
A. They feel that there isn't enough games to allow the best teams to make it to the postseason, some teams may sneak into the playoffs that don't belong.
B. There are not enough games for an MVP to clearly distinguish themselves
and C. Fans would miss out on certain matchups between teams that don't face each other due to the cut in games. (Ex: Memphis may not see Boston twice each season)
While these may be common concerns, lets take a look at this season to see if they are legitimate concerns by looking at the 2011-12 NBA season. First off, did any team make the playoffs that didn't belong? Did any team MISS the playoffs that should have been in? The only team that may have a gripe is Houston over Utah, but other than that unless you are a completely oblivious Milwaukee fan, the answer is a profound "No".
How about the seeding, was that off much? Its fair to say that Chicago, Miami, San Antonio and Oklahoma City were the four best teams this regular season based on their performances all year so their seeding is safe. Indy had a terrific start to the season and cooled off late, Boston and the Lakers had the opposite, thus their middle seed being correct. It is safe to say that if this were a normal 82 game season, the playoff seeding would look pretty similar to what it is right now, right?
How about the MVP race? There were only two players coming into the season that had legitimate shots at the MVP, and those two players were the ones that found their name in discussions at the end of the season as well. Kevin Durant and Lebron James are the NBA's two best players, if the season were 15 games or it were 100 those two would be the MVP and Runner up 100 times out of 100. A shortened season wouldn't allow for a second or third tier player such as Blake Griffin to sneak into the argument.
Lastly, the argument for fans missing certain matchups. While this may rob certain long distance fans of seeing their former home team, how many of us will cry about not seeing the Suns in Boston every year? Will Memphis fans miss the annual trip to the Fed Ex Forum by the Bucks? I didn't think so. There are A LOT of meaningless and quite boring matchups in the NBA on any given night. A shortened season would reduce this, giving us a far better ratio of interesting games to less interesting games.
The NBA may even consider it down the road, so why not? Would you be opposed to a 66 game season that isn't condensed as this seasons was? What would your concerns be? Personally, I think this would be a step in the right direction to making basketball relevant again on a more national scale. Yes, we all LOVE the game of basketball but the reality is it is fourth in many cities behind Football, Baseball, and Hockey, something needs to change to save the game, and this may be it.