Adam Silver joined the NBA TV set prior to Game 2 of the NBA Finals between the Denver Nuggets and the Miami Heat. While he had an audience with the commissioner, Charles Barkley decided to pepper Silver with a few questions about a thing that he admits he does not understand: the in-season tournament that the league is going to adopt starting next season.
The tournament has been a project that Silver has reportedly wanted the league to add to its schedule for years, and is now slated to begin in 2023-24 as part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. It’s had plenty of detractors, as do most new things, and Barkley basically got the chance to speak for them in asking Silver about the whole thing, going as far as to say “I don’t understand the midseason tournament.”
— NBA TV (@NBATV) June 4, 2023
Silver compared it to both European soccer (i.e. a new trophy for teams to try and win) and college basketball (i.e. there are tournaments during the year, a la the Maui Invitational, that don’t replace the NCAA Tournament but add something to the regular season). Barkley asked if the tournament would be made up of “the weaker teams or the better teams,” to which Silver said it’s every team.
“Well, ok, so, we already got the load management issue, ok?” Barkley said. “Why would I risk — if I’m one of the teams who’s trying to win the Larry O’Brien trophy — what’s in it for me to play in that tournament? We’re already having a hard time getting these guys to play.”
Silver basically explained that the games would happen regardless, as a handful of regular season games are going to be designated as tournament games, and that there’s prize money associated with the whole thing. (It is worth mentioning that, in Draymond Green’s Twitter thread about the new CBA, he noted that the $500,000 that each player will receive for winning the whole thing is lower than the originally reported number of $1 million.) It’s unclear if all of this was able to get Barkley to warm up a bit on the idea, but our hunch is that if the tournament ends up being good next year, that’ll get the job done better than anything else.