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NBA lockout: Season should always start on Christmas Day

November 27, 2011 |  7:32 am

Kobe Bryant

For a game that moves at a rapid-fire pace, the NBA season seems methodically slow. For a game that exposes some of our country's most competitive athletes, the NBA season reveals their laziness. For a game that arguably remains the country's second most popular sport behind the NFL, the general public's focus reflects that of the players.

They tune out in November and December. They start paying attention on Christmas Day. They zone out during the NBA dog days from January through March. They notice the playoff-positioning in April. They follow every single minute of the NBA once the playoffs start. 

That all changes in the 2011-2012 campaign since it features a 66-game schedule beginning Christmas Day. But this shouldn't be an anomaly. Instead of the unwillingness by owners and players to broker a deal in time to salvage a season, the NBA should adopt a shortened schedule simply because it would make its product better.

Spare me the argument from Lakers Coach Phil Jackson that shortened seasons deserve an asterisk because it prevents teams from going through the full journey an 82-game schedule entails. Though I've never fully believed the Lakers' playoff fortunes simply rest on flipping a switch, that factor unfortunately explains why plenty of the NBA season remains a bore. 

As a reporter, I wholeheartedly enjoy every single part of the season. But like a player, I must pace myself so I'm not burned out when the coverage, interest and hours demanded peak during the playoffs. But that shouldn't justify why so many games in beginning and middle of the season seem more like glorified exhibition games. For those expressing concern about what a 66-game schedule will do to a compacted time frame, I'm with you. That's why implementing a 50-game schedule will provide a better alternative. 

Of course, this idea would never pass because it involves money, the same thing that made the current labor negotiations so unnecessarily drawn out. Owners would like to be able to dole out less expensive contracts, but they wouldn't want to sacrifice their added revenue. Players would enjoy the added rest with fewer games, but they wouldn't want the less lucrative deals. Devoted fans would buy tickets with more certainty the game proves worth the money, but they wouldn't want to wait another two months to enjoy NBA basketball.

For the sake of enjoying basketball with more speed, more urgency and more competitiveness, however, this proposal proves to be a no-brainer. 


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-- Mark Medina

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Photo: Kobe Bryant and the Lakers will be one of the first teams to hear from fans when they are part of a season-opening tripleheader on Christmas Day. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times