NBA is back!

20-22 teams will be competing in stadiums in Orlando for a compressed schedule in late July for the remaining season. The games will be executed through new game format, and ultimately, will give the whole world a brand new look about what the most most popular sports league will approach the games, in lieu of the unprecedented COVID-19 situation.

Here I want to share my initial thinking about the proposal.

1. Safety first.
This is by no means the upmost important issue the league needs to take into consideration while planning for the comeback. How do they ensure the players, coaches, staff, reporters, and even audiences are properly tested in the arena since right now the world still doesn’t have vaccine and there is still a potential risk of having any single individual to be affected, the league needs to come up with a comprehensive process.

2. New format to create an exciting product.
Assembling 20-22 teams in a city with compressed schedules sounds no foreign to us? Absolutely. You could trace back to the game format of FIBA world Cup, Olympic, NCAA March Madness…etc. This will be an exciting moment for NBA to test, experiment, and learn how the new format will impact the games. In particular, we have been hearing long enough about consumers complaining and requesting to have a short-term, more condensed scheduling. Now is the time to fulfill all of this, yet this will bring up an underlying issue – Revenue sharing & generation for NBA.

3. Revenue sharing and generation.
NBA is comprised of 30 teams from different owners of gigantic organizations. They own team for various reasons but ultimately, making money is one of them. With this new format, we won’t have home game for teams and the corresponding revenues through local TV deal, tickets, team and player products won’t exist. The league needs to ensure these teams can enjoy competitive benefit from this new format. Besides, for sponsorship and sports brands such as Nike, Adidas, and others, they will need to be creative in fighting for audiences’ attention under this new format.

4.Implications for the rest of the sports leagues worldwide.
Amongst the major four sports leagues in the US, NBA, MLB, NFL, and NHL, NBA enjoys the most success internationally and the comeback will play a crucial role in indicating what the future of sports leagues and games will look like during COVID-19. How does it balance complex issues of safety, revenue sharing and generation, and product presentations, will be important references for the rest of the leagues to follow upon.

The beauty of the game is the excitement it can generates for the world. Or perhaps let me put in this way. After I finished watching ten episodes of The Last Dance – ESPN Michael Jordan and Chicago Bulls documentary, my biggest takeaway is basketball is about “HOPE.” Every shot you attempt, you HOPE to make it. Every touch, every decision making you make in the game, you HOPE it turn out with positive impact. There are no single sports like basketball that is so fast paced, involves so many decision makings, (typically 1000 times) in 48-minute period.

Now that with NBA planning to come back, I HOPE this will create more positive impact to the world. It has been full of many negative news and we need sports to change the vibe.


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