Why did NBA swing toward Christmas start, shorter season? Money.

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Just a few weeks ago, at the start of the NBA Finals, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said, “The earliest we would start at this point is Christmas… but it may come and go.” Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 18, was the target date many front offices were targeting.

That shifted quickly, and on Friday the NBA owners settled on a proposed start date of Dec. 22 to start a 72-game season, one that would end early enough for players to take part in the Tokyo Olympics next July. That still has to be negotiated and approved by the National Basketball Players Association, but having the NBA rolling by Christmas — even without fans in the building in a lot of cities — has momentum and appears well on its way to becoming reality.

Why the change?


It’s always about the money.

Starting on Dec. 22 and running the season that way will bring another $500 million in next season the owners were told, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic. Half-a-billion dollars can change a lot of minds.

The players have to approve that earlier start, but as they will get roughly half of that increased Basketball Related Income — in a year they could lose a third of their salary or more to an escrow fund to help balance out the league’s losses — expect them to be on board. It’s about money for them, too.

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