Unlike the NFL season, the NBA players are asked to play a ton of games, despite a similar number of teams in the league. There is a reason for the madness, and this is why the NBA plays 82 regular season games.
Beginning In The Sixties
If it feels as though there have been 82 regular-season games in the NBA forever, that’s because there has. The 82-game season was first introduced to NBA athletes in the 1967-68 season. The league had just added two fresh new teams, the Seattle SuperSonics and San Diego Rockets.
That took the total number of teams in the NBA to 12. Those in charge of the NBA scheduling decided they would like each team from the same conference to play each other eight times, and outsiders seven times. That numbers resulted in 82-games seasons, but even though there are now 30 franchises, we still see teams playing 82 games.
Consistency Is King
The NBA’s initial rules to have conference teams play each other eight times, and the others on seven occasions proved to be a big hit. However, if the rule were to be applied today, teams would have an even busier schedule than the MLB, with over 200 games.
With so many more teams in the league, the rules had to be changed, but the magic number of 82 games seemed to stick.
It had become what players and fans were accustomed to, so any time a new franchise entered the fray, changes to the schedule were made, but 82 games remained the rule. With the regular season running from October through until April, there are only so many games that can be played in that time.
Playing Too Much?
We’re sure if most people were given the option of playing basketball for a living, they would happily shoot hoops every day of the week. While the NBA athletes could probably do the same, we wouldn’t be seeing the same consistently high levels from them if they did.
Instead, the 82-game schedule remained the optimum season length, but even that is becoming a burden for some players. With many NBA rosters relying on their superstars, the phrase ‘load management’ has become more common in the league.
Coaches rest their star players to try and keep them free for the grueling playoffs, but the gamble is trying to get through those regular season games without their superstars.
Let The Stars Play
The NBA wants its biggest and best players on the court as much as possible and is fighting back against ‘load management.’ The league has conceded, as recently as April 2019, that a shorter season could be the answer to combating ‘load management.’ This would mean fewer big stars sitting games out, and could even lead to a more competitive regular season as every result would matter more.
The 82-game season has been the tradition in the NBA since the 1960s, but there are signs that it could change for the first time in over 55 years.