The NBA is Trying to Speed Up End of Games Because Those Darn Kids Can’t Pay Attention That Long

(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

There’s long been a cliche in the NBA that you only really need to watch the final two minutes of any game. Either the score is already out of hand and the game is over, or the last couple minutes (which will probably take 10-15 minutes of real time to get through, after all the timeouts, commercial breaks, and intentional fouls) will contain the decisive plays and/or referring decisions that decide the game.

Commissioner Adam Silver said on Thursday that the NBA has been studying the end of games since last year, and may implement rule changes to speed it up. Specifically, he mentioned younger fans, who apparently would rather stare into their phones than watch a basketball game decided by free throw shooting.

“It’s something that I know all of sports are looking at right now, and that is the format of the game and the length of time it takes to play the game,” Silver said, according to ESPN. “Obviously people, particularly millennials, have increasingly short attention spans, so it’s something as a business we need to pay attention to.

“When the last few minutes of the game take an extraordinary amount of time, sometimes it’s incredibly interesting for fans, other times it’s not,” Silver added. “The short answer to your question is we are going to take a fresh look at the format, specifically in the last two minutes.”

ESPN points out that a game between the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder from last week took almost nine minutes to play out the final 24 seconds of game time. Allowing fewer timeouts or putting a larger penalty on intentional fouls may help speed up the game, although Silver didn’t specify exactly which steps the NBA might be exploring.

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