In an early morning press conference today, NBA commissioner Adam Silver made a stunning announcement: All NBA teams will only play home games for the final six weeks of the regular season. Silver believes that playing only home games will make the race for top seeds more competitive, as most teams have a better record at home. Silver said that this move will not affect the playoffs, so the traditional home court advantage will return for the top teams after last year’s neutral court Bubble Playoffs.
Silver’s announcement sent shock waves through the NBA and the sports world. Indeed, Silver stated that the NBA’s move may induce other sports leagues to follow the NBA’s lead for their own regular seasons.
In the press conference, Silver explained the move:
“By having teams play all their games at home, there will be twice as many opportunities for fans to see their favorite team live and in person. Even at reduced capacity, this move will help teams financially — with twice as many home games, teams will be able to make up some of the revenue they lost over the past year. We also hope the reduced travel will keep the players fresh as we get ready for the playoffs.”
I am hearing rumors from San Antonio that Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili may be considering coming out of retirement to take advantage of the absence of travel. Manu apparently wants to make one final playoff run for the Spurs, while Duncan is excited to be able to hang out with the Spurs players again. Both future Hall-of-Famers will need to have their retired uniforms pulled down from the rafters.
One team unanimously opposed the announcement: The Minnesota Timberwolves. In a press release, the team pointed out that the weather in Minnesota still sucks in April, and if the team can’t get out of the cold for road trips, they will face a competitive disadvantage compared to teams in warmer climates — which is all of them. The announcement caused a rare responsive press release from the NBA head office, who immediately pointed out that the weather isn’t the only thing bad in Minnesota. To emphasize their point, the league officials attached the Western Conference standings to their rejoinder.
Gregg Popovich also expressed disappointment: ”While I believe that Adam Silver’s heart is in the right place, I enjoy road trips. I have favorite restaurants in every city that I will miss out on without any road games. I will especially miss our trip to San Francisco to play the Warriors, as I have a recommendation from California’s governor for a nice restaurant just outside the city.”
The reaction from politicians was mixed. In the House of Representatives, the Democrats passed a bill approving the announcement. Every Republican voted against it. In the Senate, the Democrats passed a bill disapproving the announcement. Every Republican voted against it.
After hearing the announcement, I used the official Pounding the Rock hotline to call Adam Silver. Transcript follows, lightly edited to remove profanity:
Lee Dresie: ”Adam, Lee Dresie calling about your announcement.”
Adam Silver: ”Lee! Great to hear from you again. What do you think of my announcement? Fans will love it, teams will love it, the networks will love it. Everybody wins!”
LD: “In some ways, yes. Very logical and well thought out. Other than, uh, the ‘fatal flaw’”.
AS: “Fatal flaw? Impossible. I ran it by our smartest people!”
LD: “Commissioner, you may need some smarter people. With every team playing home games, who will they play against?”