An NBA season can be long and grueling.
To win an NBA title, a team can rest easy knowing that they’ve gone through a travel gauntlet to prove themselves. Every NBA team travels to the other 29 teams in the league (unless you’re the Clippers or Lakers, then you only have to travel to 28 other teams) at least once per year.
To fit the regular season schedule in a window of about seven months, it takes some hectic scheduling. But how many games do teams play, overall?
How many games are in an NBA season?
Each team in a standard season plays 82 games. That means in total, an NBA season is comprised of 1,230 games.
The 82-game season came to be in 1967-68, but there have been recent discussions of the possibility of shortening it.
NBA teams played between 68 and 80 games per season before the 82-game schedule was formally adopted.
Exceptions include the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season (50 games), the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season (66 games) and the 2019-20 season that was shortened and moved by the Coronavirus pandemic, which resulted in teams playing varying amounts of games.
What is the case for shortening the NBA season?
The NBA’s length has come under scrutiny in recent years in part due to the topic of load management. The grueling nature of the schedule, which occasionally includes back-to-backs or multiple games in a short window of time, tends to put a lot of pressure on star players. Those with injury history (or even without injury history) are sometimes strategically rested.
This is suboptimal for the NBA’s business model since its players are who paying customers want to see, both in person and on television.
Ultimately, with 82 games, they each mean less, as well. Losing three games in a row means much more if there were 60-70 games than when there are 82 of them. A limited schedule would up the intensity and, in theory, make things more exciting. The idea of fewer games to sell tickets for might scare owners, but if fans are more engaged for sixty games, the demand could potentially increase.