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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Adam Silver Says NBA Is Happy With Its 65-Game Participation Policy

  • Injuries heavily impacted the Eastern Conference playoffs.
  • The commissioner said it remains an issue that the league and players’ union continue to look at.
Nov 6, 2023; San Francisco, CA, USA; NBA commissioner Adam Silver acknowledges the crowd before a press conference to announce the selection of the Golden State Warriors and San Francisco Bay Area to host the 2025 NBA All-Star Game at Chase Center.
Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports

Game 1 of the NBA Finals was highlighted by the return of Celtics forward Kristaps Porziņģis, who scored 20 points in as many minutes after sustaining a lower leg injury in the first round. His absence over the past month was part of a broader theme.

In the NBA’s first season of its participation policy, which required players to appear in a minimum of 65 games to be eligible for honors, accolades, and therefore bigger contracts, it appeared to be effective as the league’s stars had a relatively healthy regular season. But it caught up in the playoffs, especially in the Eastern Conference as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Tyrese Haliburton, and Jimmy Butler got injured in the postseason and missed significant time, which impacted their respective series. 

Stars missing in action can have a domino effect on ratings, ticket sales, merchandise, etc. According to Sports Business Journal, the NBA’s playoff viewership is down 13% from last year when stars such as LeBron James were playing as late as the conference finals. 

Speaking to the media before Game 1 of the NBA Finals, commissioner Adam Silver backed the policy and said the postseason injuries weren’t out of the ordinary. 

“When it comes to injury data, we’re constantly studying it, trying to see if there’s more than correlation and there’s actually causation,” Silver said. “Of course, this past season, even though we had the 65-game rule, largely designed to keep star players on the floor, we had a decrease in injury in star players. 

“I’m not standing here saying one followed from the other. It just may be happenstance for this season. I think we saw injuries, of course, in the playoffs this year, but nothing that out of range with injuries we’ve seen in the past.”

Silver said keeping players on the floor remains a priority, and it’s an issue he continues to discuss with Andre Iguodala, the new National Basketball Players Association executive director. He added that Iguodala brings a unique perspective to the issue compared to past directors, who came from legal backgrounds, as he’s a former All-Star and four-time champion. 

“I will say just based on one season of data, we’re happy with the 65-game rule,” Silver said. “There was sort of a parade of horribles that had rolled out, that had been rolled out, that everybody was saying, were threatening were going to happen. Those things didn’t happen.

“In terms of not just a reduction in star player injuries this year, but it worked to the extent we saw star players on the floor more. That was the goal.”

Silver said injuries are “an area that confounds us in some ways” as they are random and can go against data and added he’s unsure whether there’s a correlation with the playoff injuries. It’s an issue he will continue to look at with the union given its ramifications. 

“We have the same incentives, and that is to keep star players on the floor.”

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