The NBA In-Season Tournament Has Arrived and Making Waves in the Social Media World
By: Brian Kowalski
The NBA In-Season tournament has finally arrived, and it’s here to stay. The NBA In-Season Tournament (IST) was announced this past summer as a unique addition to the league’s landscape. The tournament began on Friday November 3rd, and will continue through Saturday, December 9th where the semi-final and championship games will be played in Las Vegas.
So why did the NBA decide to create an In-Season Tournament? Despite early assumptions, IST wasn’t crafted in the shadow of European soccer; instead, it drew inspiration from college basketball’s holiday tournaments and conference events, according to Tom Friend of Sports Business Journal. NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, has been very vocal about making the NBA In-Season Tournament its own unique concept, distancing itself from comparison to the UEFA Champions League.
The opening night of the tournament showcased a noticeable uptick in players' desire to win. Fans, reporters, and executives all around the world took notice of the players' effort shown in the opening games of the tournament. Dan Wolken of USA Today stated, “The players seemed to compete with a skosh more intensity than your standard Friday night, though it’s hard to know whether that’s real or confirmation bias based on how relentlessly the NBA has marketed this thing.” It will remain a point of debate, whether this will be authentic competitiveness or just the relentless marketing efforts by the NBA.
The NBA decided to show off their innovation on the basketball court as well, departing from each team's traditional home court and adding bright and bold colors into the hosting team’s court for an IST game. The massive change created a wave of mixed reviews from fans all across the league. It is known in sports that fans do not like sudden changes from their team’s typical traditions, which was the case for new NBA IST courts with fans saying that the designs were unnecessary and, in some cases, simply bad, according to Jake Fenner of Daily Mail.
Social media has now become a battleground for NBA fans to vent their thoughts and opinions on the In-Season Tournament. Fans and analysts alike took to platforms to share their views on the tournament’s format, intensity, and eye-opening courts. This social media fan commentary will surely continue throughout the tournament, meaning more eyes will be on the NBA’s brand.
Despite all the rumblings around the leagues new format, one undeniable success was the viewership numbers. The NBA In-Season Tournament debuted with an average of 1.72 million viewers on ESPN Friday night, marking a substantial 35% increase from the networks average for Friday games in the previous November, according to Jon Lewis of Sports Media Watch. The tournament has sparked anticipation and excitement throughout the NBA community, leaving fans eager to see what the future holds for this bold addition to the regular season. One thing is certain, the NBA knows how to put on a show.