NBA commissioner Adam Silver has revealed that having over one million fans back into attendance throughout the playoffs helped the league recover from financial losses suffered due to COVID-19. In March 2020, the NBA suspended the season due to the pandemic.
The league restarted a few months later without fans in attendance and finished in the Orlando bubble. This season started without fans but as the season progressed the teams were allowed to have more and more fans in attendance.
"We did somewhat better than we initially projected," Silver said Tuesday before Game 1 of the NBA Finals. "We don't have the exact numbers yet, but maybe we'll be down roughly a third in revenue, something around there, instead of 40%."
Resting went up, Silver admits
Silver noted, "resting was up over 100%" this year from the previous year but injuries still went up. "The issue which we're trying to get to the root of is: 'Does resting work, frankly? Does load management work?'" Silver said.
"What's most surprising, as I said, it's not just about injuries up this season; we have seen this upward trend for several years. You would like to believe that with the investment, the level of sophistication, the number of doctors, the amount of analytics we look at, the data that we collect that we couldn't in the old days, that putting the pandemic aside, we would have seen improvements -- and we haven't seen that yet."
Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James criticised this year's schedule as he blamed it for many injuries seen in the playoffs. "Ultimately," Silver said, "although there were critics, not just LeBron but others who weren't in favor of it and maybe some teams who weren't thrilled with it, I think overall it was very positive for the league and the players."
"I know that was reported when revenues were down we were looking more seriously at expansion," Silver said. "It didn't work exactly like that, largely because expansion is a multiyear process. So, it wasn't as if the pandemic came, we're 40% down, we can quickly collect some expansion revenue.
"It's true that we actually had some time while we were initially shut down, and we were meeting more often with our teams, to think a little bit more about it. But it seemed the consensus was certainly during a pandemic that wasn't the right time to expand but that we should continue to consider it."