NBA Players Should Not Need to Take Days Off
Imagine you are 8-year-old kid living in Phoenix, Arizona and you wanted to see the best player in the world play basketball in person. You notice on the schedule that the Cleveland Cavaliers come once to Phoenix for a game. This is the date marked on your calendar if you are a basketball fan anywhere in the world. You want to see the best player in the world play. The same thing happened when Michael Jordan would come to town. So you decide to ask your parents to go to that game. Now granted tickets to a professional basketball game are no cheap bargain anymore. Let’s say your parents agree to buy tickets and take you to see LeBron James beat up on your hometown Phoenix Suns. Everything is going your way, you get to go see a professional basketball game and it is against the defending NBA champions. What can possibly go wrong? You show up to the game maybe get a hot dog and get to your seats. Then an announcement comes over the loudspeaker
“LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love will not be playing in tonight’s game.”
Your heart sinks. Now you have to watch JR Smith be the focal point of the offense (which is pretty terrible to watch). This is not a real scenario because this did not happen to the Phoenix Suns. This probably would have happened though if the Cavaliers played the Suns later in the season. What did happen was three stars were held out of a game against the Los Angeles Clippers and it caused a big stir. The Cleveland Cavaliers are all but guaranteed a playoff spot at this point in the season and they are looking towards the playoffs. Why not? The regular season is just their day job and the playoffs are where they make the real money.
The major problem here is the NBA is a star driven league. When teams are playing poorly the only saving grace to get fans in the stands is when a star comes into town. Every time LeBron James walks into an arena there is a different buzz around the fans. Apparently one of the top athletes in the world needs a day off every once in awhile though to stay fresh for the important games.
Let us take a look at that last statement. Why does the best player in the world need a day off? Seriously? He plays a game for a living and has to work 8 months out of the year max. Oh let us not forget the millions of dollars that he is making to play that game. The offseason is the time to rest and take the day off. Most people have to go to work every day and are lucky if they get two weeks vacation. The reason LeBron James and every other athlete in the NBA is making as much money as they are is because the fans pay the exorbitant ticket prices. Fans buy their jerseys. Fans invest their money to see these players play, whether it is cable TV packages, going to games, or online streaming services the fans are the reason these players get the privilege to play a game for a living.
The least these players can do is work every day they are supposed to. Most people would kill to get paid half as much to play 82 regular season basketball games. The point is that these players are getting paid to play basketball games; therefore they should actually have to play these games. Also think about the about the athletic ability of these player. The NBA has some of the greatest athletes in the world. Do they really need rest? Lebron James is 32 years old, Kyrie Irving is 24 years old, and Kevin Love is 28 years old. There is no excuse why they should need rest. If a 24-year-old basketball player needs rest and does not want to play back-to-back games, he should get a new job.
Maybe the problem is attitude. Basketball players from the past had the will to play every game. According to Pro Basketball Reference Michael Jordan played in all 82 regular season games with the Washington Wizards in the 2002-2003 season. Jordan was 39 years old. To keep the trend going, Wilt Chamberlain played in all 82 games in his final season at the age of 36. These were the best players in the world and they were out there every day. Granted, if there is an injury that is a different story. People like to compare LeBron James and Michael Jordan. One big difference is Jordan was out there every day trying to prove that he is the best player of all-time.
Enough about whether these players need rest or not though. There is a solution that Coach Doc Rivers came up with. According the Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN, Rivers wants to address back-to-back games. By getting rid of back-to-back games would eliminate the need to rest players, maybe. This just seems a bit ridiculous. The players will still want days off. The coaches will also come up with an excuse like they need to have fresh legs to give them the day off too. All this would do is prolong the season. The NBA season is long; it is not MLB long, but still long. Basketball players should be in great shape to play every game. If they are not maybe the teams should step up their conditioning programs. The way to build muscle is by using it not resting it all the time.
Overall, it is a bit silly to rest players. The fans want to see the top players play each game. The league has a real issue here that definitely needs to be fixed. The best fix is to put it in their contract the player’s contracts that they are actually expected to play every game of the season unless they have an injury. Also with that being said, these are mostly coaching decisions. The players probably want to play, but they need to tell their coaches that. If a player wants to play they will make it be known.
Stats and Info courtesy of ESPN and Basketball Reference