He won another NBA title and he’s, uh, probably financially secure. But LeBron James doesn’t get everything he wants.
James had hoped for a longer offseason, but it appears that the NBA will move forward with a 72-game season that will begin on Dec. 22. The National Basketball Players Association was set for a formal vote among team player representatives on Thursday, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe.
If the players vote yes, these dates are likely to be locked in:
Nov. 18: 2020 NBA Draft
Nov. 20–22: Start of free agency
Dec. 1: Start date to begin training camps
Dec. 22: Opening night
The league needed the December start, too.
During the pandemic, major televised sports have seen an erosion in ratings. The NBA’s traditional Christmas Day menu provides strong numbers and would be hard to give up.
As OutKick.com’s Gary Sheffield Jr. wrote, “Unfortunately for King James, there’s too much money riding on Christmas Day happening in this league. … [T]he NBA really had no choice but to make a December launch work.”
James’ shortened offseason is the exception. Eight teams have not played since March 11, and of the 22 at the Orlando bubble, only four — James’ Lakers, the Heat, Nuggets and Celtics — were playing in mid-September.
In the New York Daily News, Stefan Bondy stood up for James, whose role in rescuing the 2020 playoffs can’t be overstated.
“So many players wanted nothing to do with the bubble in Orlando,” Bondy wrote. “Bradley Beal and John Wall passed. Half the Nets declined. The Clippers showed up but really didn’t. Present or not, most were paid. The bubble was conceived to salvage revenue for everybody … and LeBron, at age 35 … legitimized the entire operation and helped the NBA prevent over $1 billion in losses.”