Jaylen Carr – Sports Editor
In the last few weeks in the National Basketball Association, the NBA has been a hot button debate about load management.
Load management involves players taking games off when they are “injured.” I use the word injured loosely because some players use load management to take a game off, or if their team has back-to-back games on their schedule, they will take the second game off to get rest.
Players sitting out during the regular season hurts the NBA because fans who spend their money to see the star players like Los Angeles Lakers forward Lebron James or Los Angeles Clippers Kawhi Leonard deserve to see them play, not sit out.
Leonard has not played an entire 82-game season in his 11-year career, which is insane to think when the players of a decade or two ago could play at least 75 games in the regular season.
During the 80s, 90s and even 2000s, we saw star players take pride in playing most of the regular season because they knew the fans wanted to see them. For example, former Los Angeles Lakers center and the second leading scorer of all time, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, played at least 75 games in 18 out of his 20 seasons.
For example, when we look back at the career of NBA Hall of Famer Kevin McHale, who not only won three championships with the Boston Celtics in the 1980s but risked his ability to walk to keep playing, according to a Los Angles Time article by Gordan Edes.
In the 1987 NBA Finals, where McHale’s Celtics would face arch nemesis Los Angeles Lakers, McHale would play despite a fractured bone in his foot. His injured foot would affect McHale for his life, not allowing him to walk the same.
I do not think players should be playing injured like McHale, but some star players today lack toughness, unlike their predecessors.
According to CBS Sports Bill Reiter, “must-watch games only work if the best players play in said games. Fair or not, this falls on the stars in a sport that also serves as an entertainment business for it to properly and optimally function. If availability is the best ability, and the best business plan, it is time to start tying the game’s rewards to that fact.”
The issue of load management has been a recent issue because current players deem playing back-to-back games a chore instead of being competitive with other top teams and players.
As a fan of the NBA, I want the star players to play most regular season games because it makes them more watchable and competitive. We saw the lack of competitiveness even in this past NBA All-Star game, where the league stars did not want to compete, which showed in the ratings.
Sports Media Watch, a television rating tracker for all sporting events, said that the “NBA All-Star Game averaged a combined 2.2 rating and 4.59 million viewers across TNT and TBS, making it easily the lowest-rated and least-watched edition of the game.”
This past year’s All-Star game had the worst rating than the NFL Pro Bowl, where NFL players were playing flag football.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has always been a player-first commissioner, but it is time for the commissioner to hold these players accountable. The players make millions of dollars and still do when they sit out over half of the season without a serious injury.
The NBA is such a star-driven league that not only does the commissioner relies on them for ratings and revenue but also the owners.
The NBA should try reducing the number of regular season games so that the star players can play more games.
Since this era, the players have struggled with playing in 82 games; condensing the season to 65 games, I think, will make the league more watchable and competitive v because the star players will be on the court more.