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Why do NBA games start late?

NBA games are watched all around the world. This is one of the most-watched competitions when it comes to basketball and during a regular season, 82 matches take place. However, the matches do not start on time as there are scheduled for various reasons.

Why do NBA games start late? NBA games start approximately 10 minutes late because there are announcements of players, warmups and analyses from broadcasters. Then there is a national anthem as well as other pre-game activities that people enjoy watching.

This applies to 99% of the matches. There are practically no cases when games start on time and in this article, we will further explore more details that concern the late start of matches.

Factors affecting the late start of an NBA game

As we have mentioned above games in the NBA never start on time, because of various factors. We can single out commercial breaks, announcements, warmups, analysis as well as a national anthem. Let’s delve deeper into each of these factors separately.

Commercial Breaks

Commercial breaks also known as promotional advertisements before matches are designed to advertise a particular product. When the broadcast begins you can already see the field, and alongside there is a screen with promotion. Usually, such breaks are not long and take several minutes. There are no limitations on advertisements whatsoever. We should also remember that promotional breaks also happen during the course of a match.


Before their names are announced players are warming up on the field. You have probably witnessed famous players like Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, LeBron James making shots before they engage in the game. They are warming themselves up to be better ready for the upcoming encounter.

Players Announcements

After that, broadcasters on the home court start announcing players. There are roughly 12 players in a single squad and announcing their names takes quite a bit of time. That also protracts the process of starting a basketball match. You will see, when players’ names are announced, they run on the court shaking hands with their teammates.

National Anthem

The national anthem of the United States, called The Star-Spangled Banner, is a symbol of the country. When the anthem is sung on any court it takes some time, thus the start of a game is a little delayed.


One of the main parts of an NBA game is the analysis from broadcasters. They mainly focus on the squads of each team, how are they doing in the league, which players are missing, and which one are “on fire”. Usually, such discussions are not very lengthy and can take up to several minutes.

Unexpected events

When it comes to unexpected events in the NBA, we can include everything from disasters to a death of a particular player. When Kobe Bryant passed away in 2020 in a helicopter crash, it was a huge blow for the whole NBA community and each match in the league started even later. There were various tributes dedicated particularly to Kobe. The same can be said about disastrous events, which can result in even further delay of a game.

Are playoff games different?

We have been mainly talking about regular-season games but you won’t really see any differences in the post-season matches. Sometimes games in the playoffs start even later because tensions are higher. When there are finals you might also see a slight increase in the start of a specific game. Playoffs are also different in a way that they normally last longer compared to an average regular-season game. This is a completely different environment and place.

Time zones and how they impact matches

You would also notice especially if you are from Europe, that the games start very late. The main reason for this is time zone, which is a lot in the United States. Because of that, the matches begin very late, compared to the European time which is very uncomfortable for fans from European countries. They would like to observe matches at a convenient time. At some point, this is also bad for the NBA, because many people are forced to watch the relive the next day. Unfortunately, this is an issue that cannot be resolved purely for geographical reasons.

However, on Sundays and on particular days, matches start at normal times such as 10:00 PM, 11:00 PM, where people can watch the matches of their favourite teams without problems. But such occurrences do not represent the general picture and you should always anticipate the matches to start late.

Christmas is also a time where matches start a little earlier than scheduled. Such matches are normally the most popular ones because the NBA wants to attract as many spectators as possible from various locations.

Is there a chance for NBA games to start on time?

We have mentioned above the factors that “hinder” the start of an NBA game on time. In general, when there are commercial breaks and various advertisements it is highly unlikely that TVs will reject such a possibility. For the time being, there are no anticipations that they will start on time. People who are attending matches directly also like the show and the ones who are watching them from TV as well.

So when you see a match which is scheduled to take place at 06:30 you should never expect it to start on time. It will start roughly at 06:40 or 06:45 depending on the match and whether there are the playoffs or not.