PHOENIX – NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the League’s ability to get more than one million fans to return during the Playoffs has helped the League contain its financial losses related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We did a little better than we initially projected,” Silver said Tuesday before Game 1 of the NBA Finals. “We don’t have the exact numbers yet, but maybe we’ll go down about a third in revenue, something out there, instead of 40 percent.”
Silver added that while the burden of those losses will be shared by franchise owners and players, due to the way the League splits basketball-related revenue (BRI), he was hopeful that “if things continue on the right track, we could move towards a new season, next year and that is much more normal and we will have weathered [la pandemia] very well “.
As he does every year before the Finals, Silver addressed a number of NBA issues: the future of the Play-in, the injuries of star players, the League’s track record in promoting social justice after the joint resolution from last season and a commitment to do so with the players association, expansion, whether the Toronto Raptors will play in Canada again next season and progress, or lack thereof, in creating more diversity in the ranks of coaches and NBA leadership.
Silver said keeping players on the court is of the utmost importance and he had “no doubts” about this year’s condensed schedule, additional health and safety protocols and other challenges that contributed to the injuries. But, he said: “None of this is an exact science. It’s something that even before COVID, as everyone knows, we were very focused on the League.”
For example, Silver noted, “rest increased more than 100 percent” this year from the year before, but injuries also increased.
“The problem we’re trying to get to the root of is, ‘Does sleep work, frankly? Does load management work?'” Silver said. “What is most surprising, as I said, it is not just about injuries this season; we have seen this upward trend for several years. I would like to believe that with the investment, the level of sophistication, the number of doctors, the number of The analytics we look at, the data we collect that we couldn’t in the old days, that putting the pandemic aside, we would have seen improvements and we haven’t seen it yet. “
Silver added that he hoped teams would view their injury and load management strategies in a more communal way, not as proprietary information, because the effect on the entire League was so important.
As for the Play-in tournament, which garnered huge viewership ratings and improved competition at the end of the regular season, but also criticism from stars like LeBron James and Luka Doncic, Silver said he thought the tournament was here to stay, but that the League would consider making adjustments to the format.
“Ultimately,” Silver said. “Although there were critics, not only LeBron, but others who were not in favor and perhaps some teams were not delighted with him, I think in general he was very positive for the League and the players.”
The idea of expansion, which was raised as an idea to generate income during the pandemic, appears to have taken a back seat, Silver said.
“I know it was reported that when revenues went down, we were considering expansion more seriously,” Silver said. “It didn’t exactly work out that way, largely because expansion is a multi-year process. So it wasn’t like the pandemic hit, we’re 40 percent down, we can quickly raise some expansion revenue.
“It is true that we actually had some time while we were initially closed, and we met more often with our teams, to think a little more about it. But it seemed that the consensus was certainly during a pandemic that it was not the time. adequate to expand, but we must continue to consider it. “
On the subject of diversity across NBA headquarters and coaching staff, Silver said that “we have obviously seen positive developments there in terms of the number of vacancies that are being filled,” but that “it was important not to fall asleep in the laurels there “.