Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

The NBA In-Season Tournament

Cash prizes and court design contribute to a new fan-favorite.

Adam Silver may have pulled a rabbit out of his hat with this new In-Season Tournament idea.

The games have an electric, playoff-like atmosphere that the players and the fans both appear to be feeding into. Every game matters, and you can distinguish that by just watching the games. The beginning of the season has never really had much appeal, but this tournament changed that.

One aspect that stood out from the beginning was each team’s unique court designs. Each court was completely unorthodox and had a unique color and design. For instance, The New Orleans Pelicans had a purple basketball court with a column of green going through the middle. Although there were mixed opinions about these new courts, fans have to admit that the court design grasps attention., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The first-ever In-Season Tournament championship game featured the Indiana Pacers and the Los Angeles Lakers, and the numbers did not disappoint. The game racked up 4.6 million views, and the prime-time games throughout the whole tournament averaged 1.5 million views per game. These are playoff-like numbers being produced in December, something we have not seen for a long time.

The original uploader was Tkgd2007 at English Wikipedia., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Anthony Davis dropped a cool 41 points and 20 rebounds on the Pacers and helped lead the Lakers to become the first-ever In-Season Tournament champions, winning 123-109. The whole thing had a real Championship vibe to it. The Lakers got to go on the podium and have a whole trophy ceremony, where Lebron was presented the first In-Season Tournament MVP trophy. All of the guys were super excited to win it, and there were plenty of champagne showers in the post-game locker room. 

The other cool thing about this tournament is the $500k that each player on the winning team gets. For the players on two-way contracts, their salary doubles if they win the tournament, which is a huge deal for them and their families. For the other players, it’s probably just extra spending money but is still a prize that entices players to try their best to win.

What started as something that seemed like a 50/50 shot to work has proven to be a complete success based on viewership plus fan and player engagement. The tournament needs to be brought back next year and hopefully for years to come. 


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