Charles Barkley’s Plan of Attack as NBA Commissioner Involves Admitting Defeat Against the NFL
By and large, being the commissioner of a major sports league is a thankless job. If you follow through on your primary objective — making things profitable for the owners — you won’t make too many friends among the fans. That reality, however, does have at least one benefit: It creates the opportunity for anyone and everyone to produce their hypothetical platform if they ran a league for the day. Take, for example, Charles Barkley’s action plan.
During a conversation with Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks, Barkley shared the three steps he’d take if he replaced Adam Silver atop the NBA hierarchy. While they’re each attention-grabbing for their own reasons, one involves admitting that basketball can’t compete with football during the fall.
Charles Barkley would address ticket prices and load management as NBA commissioner
During his time as an NBA player and a TNT talking head, Charles Barkley has never been shy about sharing a controversial opinion. Unsurprisingly, the former forward wasn’t at a loss for words when asked about what he’d do if he ran the entire Association.
“First, one of my pet peeves is ticket prices,” Barkley said when Taylor Rooks asked him for three things he’d do as commissioner for the day. “You cannot raise your ticket prices if you don’t finish above .500. First and foremost, that would be my first thing. You cannot raise your ticket prices if your team sucks.”
After that, Sir Charles turned his eye toward the players.
“Secondly, we can’t have this load management,” he continued. “It’s not fair to the fans. It’s not fair to the game. You need to play. To make tens of millions of dollars to play 82 basketball games, you know, most of the time, Adam [Silver] changed the rules, so you don’t even have to play back-to-back. You need to play all the games.”
The NBA season would also start at Christmas to avoid going head-to-head with football
While Barkley’s first two ideas probably wouldn’t gain much traction — franchise owners generally don’t like being told how to run their business, especially when it’s impossible for every team to finish about .500 every year — they’d probably win over at least a portion of the fan base. Chuck’s third idea, however, could be trickier.
Number three, I would probably shorten the season. Play 70 games cause, you know, they’re adding playoff games, so you can make up the difference in that. And I wouldn’t start the season until Christmas because, number one, nothing can beat the NFL. It’s on a whole ‘nother planet. But college football is really popular and significant also.
If you go back and look at our ratings, our highest ratings ever was because of the strike. The season didn’t start until Christmas. And everybody wanted to say people wanted basketball back. I said, “No, it had nothing to do with that. You’re not competing with college and the pros.” That was the big difference. We will still have the entire schedule, January, February, March, April, May, June, to our self. And there’s no other sports realistically during that time. We’d have our own isolated situation.Charles Barkley
While this one does make some sense — early season NBA games don’t really move the needle, and TNT did decide to punt (pun not intended) on Thursday night basketball during football season — shifting the schedule would be something of a touchy subject. For both fans and the league itself, there’s some amount of pride that enters the equation. No one affiliated with basketball, no matter how realistic they are, would want to publicly admit that the NBA can’t hang with the NFL.
Is there a way to thread the needle and dominate the market without outright admitting defeat? That’s the million-dollar question a commissioner would have to reckon with. And there’s also the matter of getting everyone to agree with the change. It’s probably a bit easier to sell the scheme in a big-time NFL market as opposed to a city where the NBA is the major draw all fall.
Say what you will about Charles Barkley and his takes, though, but he certainly knows how to get a conversation going.