Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James and the Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki called for a shorter season on Wednesday. Now, Michael Jordan has essentially told both of them they are wrong, according to ESPN.
"I love both of those guys, but as an owner who played the game, I loved playing,'' Jordan told ESPN during a telephone interview. "If I wasn't playing 82 games, I still would've been playing somewhere else because that's the love for the game I had. As a player, I never thought 82 games was an issue."
Jordan comes off as sincere in that first paragraph, but in his next quote we really see that he just wants as much money as possible as owner of the Charlotte Hornets.
"But if that's what they want to do, we as owners and players can evaluate it and talk about it. But we'd make less money as partners. Are they ready to give up money to play fewer games? That's the question, because you can't make the same amount of money playing fewer games.''
Who's going to argue with Jordan? I mean, he's regarded as the best player who has ever played the game. So why would you?
Shortening the season
This is the one that makes the most sense. And LeBron agrees. It's not as bad as the lockout-shortened seasons, but the NBA regular-season schedule can be gruelling with all the travel and three games a week.
Nowitzki said it would be better to have 60-some games. LeBron said the season is too long.
"It's not the minutes, it's the games," James told ESPN.com. "The minutes doesn't mean anything. We can play 50-minute games if we had to. It's just the games. We all as players think it's too many games. In our season, 82 games is a lot.''
The biggest logical reason to cut the season is that the regular season is longer than necessary to determine which teams make the playoffs, with eight in each conference. That fact makes a larger percentage of the regular season games less relevant.
But the players also understand that the largest reason to keep the 82-game schedule is money. Each game brings in TV, sponsor, ticket and merchandise money.
"I think you don't need 82 games to determine the best eight in each conference," Nowitzki told ESPN.com. "That could be done a lot quicker, but I always understand that it's about money, and every missed game means missed money for [all] parties -- for the league, for the owners, for the players. I understand all that, and that's why I don't think it's going to change anytime soon."
Making the games shorter, however, is less about the players. Currently, games are 48 minutes long, but the league is doing a trial 44-minute preseason game. That part makes sense from the fans' perspective. The Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets will be the guinea pigs on that one.
A change is not imminent, NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn told USA Today Sports this week.
"We have looked at everything that we do and are taking a fresh look at all the different things we do," Thorn said. "One of the things that keeps coming up is our schedule and the length of our games. … Our coaches talked about it, and a lot of them seemed to be in favor of at least taking a look at it. We talked with our competition committee, and they were in favor of taking a look at it."