By Drew Markol, TSN Contributor - Archive - Email
Nobody asked me, but...
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - I could sure get used to this shortened season thing.

Not being a big NBA guy, having to trudge through the usual 82-game regular seasons was just too much.

Night after night of Charlotte at Washington and New Orleans at Memphis simply overwhelms a fan.

Too much of something just makes you push away from the table.

Then we had this just-finished NBA regular season. In a word, it was cool.

Sixty-six games, with seemingly every one having a playoff implication, this I could get used to.

Of course, it took a serious labor dispute; almost an abandoned season and all of that to produce 66 regular-season games, but, boy, it was fun for the fan. You just paid more attention because it was fun to pay attention.

Now, because of playing 20 percent fewer regular-season games, the playoffs leave us wanting more. Man, I never thought I'd think that way, but I do.

Cynics have said the condensed regular season, with too many games too close together, led to injuries like the ones suffered by Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose.

No, they didn't. Bad luck caused the injuries to those guys. NBA players play basketball nearly every day, in season and out of season. That's what they do. Just like swimmers and runners do what they do daily.

Could those guys have played the standard 82-game regular season and then get hit by the injury bug? Of course, it's just the luck of the draw.

But does the good outweigh the bad? Well, if you're a Chicago Bulls fan or an Orlando Magic fan, you'd say no.

The rest of us? Give us 66 games and then start the playoffs. Sixty-six is enough to sort out the good from the bad. Who should make the postseason and who should stay home.

And while we may love it, there are a couple of influential folks who will never let it happen.

Namely, that would be the team owners.

Chop off 16 games a year and that hurts the pocketbook. That's eight home dates missed. That's a lot of fans not sitting in your seats; not buying $6 hot dogs and $10 beers; and not parking their cars.

It is, in a nutshell, a ton of lost revenue that owners aren't about to wave goodbye to.

And if, somehow, they did agree to it, the first thing they'd say would be they need to cut the salaries of the players because players aren't playing as much. That wouldn't go over too well with the players. The term "lead balloon" comes to mind among other things.

I know, and you know, that this season was too good to be true. What looked like a lost season last fall, when talk of canning the whole thing seemed like a real possibility, instead turned into a season to savor.

Ten years from now, we'll look back at the 66-game season and say, "Remember how cool that season was. Every night mattered. Man, I miss that."

It reminds me of what the NHL did a while back when they had some labor strife.

It was the 1994-95 season and it looked like a lost one until the lockout of the players came to an end and a 48-game regular-season schedule was put in place.

What a beauty. From late January until early May, less than 3 1/2 months, the games were crammed in and whenever you turned around, somebody was playing for something on a nightly basis.

Eric Lindros won the Hart Trophy as the league MVP and the New Jersey Devils hammered the Detroit Red Wings to win the Stanley Cup.

There are no asterisks on Lord Stanley?s Cup saying the Devils' title was tainted. It just says champions.

The same thing they'll say about this year's NBA champions.

Smaller, at least schedule-wise, can be better.

Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several Philadelphia-area newspapers for over 25 years.

Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several newspapers in the Philadelphia area for more than 25 years.

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