If it feels like the NBA season just ended, it’s because it did. The Los Angeles Lakers captured their franchise’s 17th banner as they defeated the Miami Heat in six games in the NBA Finals. Game 6 was played three weeks ago, just about when the NBA season usually tips off. When the upcoming season begins remains a mystery, but NBA Commissioner Adam Silver needs to make a $500 million decision soon.
The 2019-20 NBA season was a challenge for Adam Silver
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver earned his money this past season. Faced with unprecedented challenges, Silver managed to survive a four-month delay in the season. After the coronavirus (COVID-19) put the league on hold, Silver went to work.
Silver addressed the issues of social injustice after the death of George Floyd on May 25. He let his players be heard as they wore messages regarding racial equality on the backs of their jerseys. Players weren’t fined for kneeling during the national anthem. Silver organized the league to play their second half of the season in isolation to help limit the spread of COVID-19.
Although the players were confined to a ‘bubble’ in Orlando, Florida, the NBA won the battle against the virus. Although no fans were allowed to watch the playoff games in person, the NBA was able to finish the season. The ratings were low, possibly due to the social justice issues or games being played in the afternoon. The season, however, was able to conclude.
The upcoming NBA season will have a new look
When the NBA returned after roughly four months of stoppage because of COVID-19, the league took a stance in raising awareness of social injustice. Players wore NBA-approved messages on their backs. ‘Black Lives Matter’ was written on the courts. Players even walked off the court after a Wisconsin incident when a Black man was shot by police.
Whether that was the big reason or not, the NBA’s postseason ratings hit an all-time low. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said he hopes the league will have a sense of normalcy this year. He’s hoping for some fans to be allowed back into arenas and he said the league intends to remove ‘Black Lives Matter’ from the floor and have just the players’ names on the backs of the jerseys again.
“We’re completely committed to standing for social justice and racial equality,” Silver said in an interview with ESPN earlier this month. “It’s part of the DNA of this league. “I would say in terms of the messages you see on the court on our jerseys, this was an extraordinary moment in time when we began the discussions with the players and what we all lived through this summer. My sense is there will be some sort of return to normalcy. That those messages will largely be left to be delivered off the floor. And I understand those people who are saying ‘I’m on your side, but I want to watch a basketball game.'”
Adam Silver has a $500 million decision to make
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said the upcoming season could start before Christmas. He also said it could begin around Martin Luther King Day or even beyond. With the last game of the 2019-20 NBA Finals having been played on Oct.11, the players union has been reluctant to agree to begin by Christmas. For financial reasons alone, the NBA would love to begin play in December.
Television revenue alone from those Christmas games would be a big boost. According to ESPN, the NBA believes it would have somewhere between $500 million and $1 billion in revenue losses if the season failed to start before Christmas.
On a conference call with general managers Monday, Silver said, “time is running out” on the possibility of starting before Christmas. That loss of revenue would be a huge blow to a league that is still unsure if fans would even be allowed to attend games in person. Many cities with NBA teams still have restrictions on large gatherings.