NBA Commissioner David Stern for the first time “outlined why he insisted on playing 66 games” this season, according to Mitch Lawrence of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. Stern said, “When we got together with the player representatives and made the deal, I knew that if we got it done that (Thanksgiving) weekend, we could start on Christmas and we could play 16 games every 28 days, rather than 14 games every 28 days. To us, the two extra games, to get in as much as we could of the season, was important, so people wouldn’t say, ‘Oh, it isn’t a representative season.’” He added, “People say, ‘You have too many games,’ or, if you go to 50 games, as we did before, then you get told that you are not having enough. We thought the 66 games were do-able.” Lawrence wrote, “Everything has been done on the fly since training camps ran about half their normal 28-day length and the preseason schedule was reduced from eight to only two games, all because Stern had a one-track mind when it came to starting on Christmas Day.” Stern “took umbrage with the idea that the game-heavy schedule, where all teams have to play at least one set of three games in three straight nights, is forcing players to hold back from giving their all on some nights.” Stern: “I can tell you that we had the same short training camps in the last lockout, so I don’t think that’s the problem. As for the injuries, I reserve the right to see how things play out over the next few weeks before I draw any conclusions. I will take a look at the data and then I’ll call you” (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 1/21).
QUALITY OF PLAY: In a recent Q&A with the ORLANDO SENTINEL’s Josh Robbins, Stern was asked if he believes that “quality of play is similar to where it would be in a normal season 3½ weeks in.” Stern: “I think that the quality of play is probably -- how do I say this? -- about the same, more or less, of where it has been after the requisite period of practice and time. For our teams 3½ weeks in, in some measure it's like they're finishing training camp on a timing basis. So they're catching up to their potential.” Robbins asked to “what degree, if any, are you concerned about injuries,” and if Stern sees “any tie to lack of a full training camp?” Stern: “When the players and we agreed to the current season, we knew together that we were buying whatever it was that that bundle of games offered up. But it seemed to be something that both sides thought was a good idea” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 1/22). In Boston, Mark Murphy wrote at “first glance, it appears as though the younger, more athletic teams are thriving.” Celtics F Chris Wilcox said, “It’s definitely kind of tough, but we have to deal with what we’ve got. In the past when you have training camp, most of the guys are here a month before training camp even starts to get ready. They get to play with each other, get a little rhythm, and that way they cut out a lot of those little nagging injuries” (BOSTON HERALD, 1/22).