Why NBA season starting in December should be the new normal

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the 2020-21 NBA season will not be starting on time. The current season has been suspended for the past seven weeks due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Now that reports are surfacing that the 2020 NBA Draft won’t he held until August or September, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that the start of next season will be postponed.

It’s a good thing: Let’s take the pandemic out of the equation for a bit. We have not been able to see live sports in 50 days since the NBA season was suspended. But moving forward, the idea of a season starting in December and ending in either July or August makes the most sense.

The season is already too long: As of right now, the NBA season starts up in mid October and lasts through mid June. While this new format would still be long, the dynamics are a bit different.

  • NBA fans have been clamoring for the league to push back its start date. Instead, the Association moved up the start of its campaign last season from late October to mid October.
  • Imagine Christmas being one of the biggest early-season days on the schedule. It’s a time when the common NBA fan actually starts paying attention. We’ve seen that with the television ratings in recent seasons.
  • The season itself wouldn’t seem as long simply because of the dates. As of right now, basketball starts while the NFL is in the midst of its season and baseball is closing up shop with the World Series. This leads me to my next point.

The sports calendar: A December start date would help the NBA maximize interest in its brand and prevent the league from going up against the NFL.

  • Despite the recent growth of the NBA under Commissioner Adam Silver, it still plays second fiddle to the gridiron world. This is not going to change any time soon.
  • The NBA season would start up just as the NFL season is coming to a culmination. Sure the Association would still have to go head-to-head with the NFL Playoffs and Super Bowl, but this is already the case.
  • Think about it this way. The NBA would be hitting its stride just as the NFL wraps up. It also would not be starting while the baseball world takes center stage with the World Series in October. The NBA season would then wrap up before the next NFL season starts and in the middle of the MLB campaign. It’s the perfect mix.

Starting up during the holidays: As noted above, Christmas Day is an unofficial NBA holiday. In fact, other sports have pretty much ceded that day to the basketball world.

  • Imagine the Clippers and Lakers doing battle for the first time in a season on Christmas Day. That’s a ratings bonanza. In fact, the NBA could plan its schedule accordingly.
  • This is to say, rivalries being the name of the game. Star players going up against their former teams for the first time. Technically, that’s not the case with an October start date.
  • Adam Silver, and David Stern before him, have helped grow the NBA’s brand in a big way. Why not take advantage of the current less-than-ideal situation and make this a permanent change?

Bottom line

There’s a reason why the early portion of the NBA season is not on the front burner of the sports world. Major League Baseball is just wrapping up. The NFL is getting into the middle part of the schedule.

By moving the start of the league to December, the NBA would be taking advantage of its recent success. It’s just sensible. And even if the Association is forced to do that next season because of the ongoing pandemic, Adam Silver and Co. need to make it permanent.