As a Bulls fan of some 50 years, I have watched all but three games via television. For most of the recent years, I have believed that the games are too long. Friday night's game vs Houston was a great example of how long 48 minutes can seem – granted that it was not a typical game, but it makes the point. I have heard that the major reason for maintaining the length of 48 minutes is that in-person tickets cost a small fortune and that those fans deserve a full "night out" experience. But, right now, there are no fans. So, I propose that this is a good time to test the desirability of shorter games. What might be the advantages and disadvantages? How about four 10-minute or even nine-minute quarters? Worth testing?
They used to say about the NBA to just watch the last five minutes. I guess you can watch the last 40. Certain basketball things are inviolate: The size of the court, the length of the game and complaining after every foul call. The length of the game never will change because then the statistics change and you can't be paid the same averaging fewer points. Though there was an interesting sports change this week that I think the NBA should consider to some extent. Baseball finally accepted the old Negro Leagues and will incorporate their statistics with Major League Baseball. It's not exactly the same, but the NBA should do likewise with the ABA. The NBA grudgingly recognizes some ABA feats and statistics as sort of an asterisk in its history. But it it more than that and not unlike the Negro Leagues in some sense. No matter how much anyone celebrates baseball greats like Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb and Walter Johnson, their accomplishments are limited because they only played against half the best players.
Similarly with the NBA without the ABA in the late 60s and early 70s until the 1976 merger. It wasn't a surprise half the players in the next All-Star game after the merger were from the ABA even as the NBA repeatedly undermined the league. But more than that, the ABA effectively modernized the NBA. The NBA's weakest era was then, one marked by patterned play without the athletic performing excellence that popularized today's game. Those players were in the ABA, like Julius Erving, George Gervin, David Thompson, Connie Hawkins, Roger Brown, Spencer Haywood, George McGinnis with visits from Rick Barry, Billy Cunningham and Joe Caldwell. The ABA brought the NBA the dunk contest, the three-point shot and the South, the Black rural areas where basketball had been ignored by the NBA. It brought basketball jazz to the symphony orchestra. It was no coincidence the NBA's popularity took off with the addition of the ABA players. Like with the Negro Leagues, the ABA lacked depth and stability, players jumping from team to team, teams relocating regularly, insufficient arenas. The quality of play among its stars was as good as any basketball ever player. Like what Major League Baseball did, the NBA should finally equalize the statistics of the ABA. It would not be the same league without its ABA ancestors.