LeBron James shares disapproval of shortened NBA off-season on Instagram

Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James (23) reacts after colliding with Miami Heat's Goran Dragic (7) during the first half in Game 6 of basketball's NBA Finals. (Mark J. Terrill/AP)

The NBA and NBPA reached a tentative agreement Thursday to support the notion of starting this coming season on Dec. 22 following a vote by the player representatives.

This means that training camp for players will very likely be Dec. 1, making the time between then and The Finals (which ended on Oct. 11) exactly 50 days. By a wide margin, this 71-day off-season until the official tip-off to the 2020-21 campaign will be the shortest in North American pro sports history (surpassing the 99 days between the 2012-13 and 2013-14 NHL seasons).

Not everyone is pleased about the quick turnaround, however.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James took to his Instagram story Friday night to post about his displeasure with the decision by capturing an image of a graphic depicting the shortest off-seasons in North American pro sports history and stamping a “facepalm” emoji right beneath it.

Via LeBron James’ Instagram story

James’ frustration is understandable, since his Lakers and their Finals opponent, the Miami Heat, were the teams that played longest into the NBA bubble in Orlando. As a result, they’re truly the only clubs whose off-seasons will be shortened to that 71-day mark, while other teams around the league have had various amounts of time away from sanctioned play.

As a well-documented connoisseur of bodily health, approaching his 36th birthday in December, and having battled his way to The Finals in nine of the last 10 seasons, James is highly aware of the advantage he’s losing here.

In fact, one of James’ teammates, former Toronto Raptors guard Danny Green, even hypothesized that the reigning Finals MVP might not be in uniform when play resumes, stating on The Ringer NBA Show that “I wouldn’t expect to see [LeBron] for the first month of the season.”

While that would seem an unlikely outcome, James is evidently not alone in his disappointment. Yahoo’s Chris Haynes reported back in October that a faction of players were pushing for a Jan. 18 start (Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the U.S.), citing concerns about the shorter timeline.

Front offices, too, will feel the COVID-19 crunch, with the draft (Nov. 18) and free agency period mashed in the few weeks prior to the opening of training camps.

And while a Jan. 18 start date was on the table for a brief moment, it always made the most sense for the league to host a season consisting of at least 70 games (and the usual Christmas Day bonanza), since that’s the number that the majority of local television contracts require in order to be fulfilled.

With that decision made, the league and NBPA are now negotiating how much more escrow will be taken from players due to the shorter-than-usual season, among other issues.

There aren’t many certainties in 2020, but it appears that the NBA starting its new season in December is one of them, whether players like it or not.

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