We need to talk about the NBA and the epidemic of players missing games.
In a world with Normatec leg sleeves, Game Ready Ice Machines, dietitians and sports scientists, in a league without hand checking or hard fouls, and back-to-back games cut down by a third over the last decade, why does it feel like more players are dealing with more injuries than ever? And sitting out for injury prevention?
This is not a diss at any particular player, but a critique of a league I love.
Pro Sports are about the fans. Players are entertainers that are handsomely paid to sacrifice some of your body and potential longevity for the fans. Some people will take this statement too far.
I played injured in my time in the NFL, and I would never advise anyone to play injured. But sometimes, you do have to play hurt.
The NBA, TV networks, and its players are partners in a giant cash cow. The players aren’t holding up their end of the bargain when fans who may spend up to $1k for a family of four to sit in marginal seats while not being able to count on the stars to show up.
I remember times Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James talking at various times about feeling the need to show up every night that they are able to play in front of fans who might otherwise never get a chance to see them perform.
The league knows that something has to give, and that surely must be addressed in the new CBA.
We already know the NBA is home to the most sensitive superstar athletes. The wrong type of scented candles in a locker room will have a star player asking for a trade 45 minutes after signing an extension. Shout out to Zach LaVine.
And you don’t even have to be a big star to have big feelings anymore. Just ask Jae Crowder, who is in the middle of a four month paid vacation just because his coach asked him to play 28 minutes off the bench instead of 28 minutes as a starter.
It’s a league full of easily bruisable egos- but where are all these other bumps and bruises coming from?
It is confusing to me how the stars of today play so many less games with so many more technological advances than the older generations.
I played and did things to play injured that i wouldnt do if I could do it all over. But playing hurt is necessary.
The top 19 scorers in the NBA this year have missed a combined 137 games this season, and so you know I’m not cherry picking a few banged up individuals and prescribing it to everyone else- every single one of those has missed at least 3 games. Not one has played a full slate.
And that’s not even including the LA Clippers “big three,” who have missed a combined 56 games.
This is beyond load management. It feels like the whole damn NBA decided to join the rest of us and work from home.
Injuries happen. But in today’s day and age, they shouldn’t be happening this frequently, to this many players, across an entire league. And the preventative measures of load management clearly aren’t working.
Either we’ve got a soft tissue epidemic on our hands, or the entire league is just plain soft.