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Berry Tramel: NBA might be better off starting later

by Berry Tramel Published: August 8, 2011

The NBA calendar inches closer and closer to peril. So much so, that union chief Billy Hunter expresses doubt that we'll even have a season.

He could be right. The owners are playing hardball. On the other hand, negotiations rarely go anywhere without being pushed by deadline. The NFL is Exhibit A.

So we'll see. September training camps. November tipoffs. Christmas Day extravaganzas. The All-Star Game. Lots of mileposts to pass before the season gets scrapped.

But talk of the calendar made me rethink the NBA season. If the ghost of Henry Clay somehow emerges to help broker a settlement in October or November, why would we have to have abbreviated basketball? Why couldn't the season just start later and end later?

In fact, why does the NBA season always start in late October/early November? Why do the NBA Finals have to be played in June?

Wouldn't the NBA be better served with a Dec. 1 tipoff and a July finals?

The middle months would not change. We'd be playing basketball in December, January, February, March, April, May and June. With this idea, we're just replacing November with July.

I know, November seems more like hoops than does July. Warm gyms on a cold night feel like Hoosiers. Cool coliseums on a 100-degree night feel like a Taylor Swift concert.

But think of the television benefits. Would the NBA rather go head-to-head with the NFL (November) or baseball (July)? Rather go head-to-head with college football or the British Open?

Sure, more people watch television in November than watch in July. But those eyeballs are glued to football.

Meanwhile, July is a drought month. There's no reason the NBA Finals couldn't capture America's fancy in July; no reason why the playoffs couldn't become a June staple.

Tip off the season in December, start the playoffs in late May. You could still play the All-Star Game in February, to avoid March Madness, but the trading deadline could move to late March, maybe a Tuesday, and the NBA could muscle in on some of the basketball jones that for decades the colleges have confiscated for March.

by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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