The term “load management” has been a highly debated topic for quite some time in the NBA. Players taking time off to make sure that they’re not “too exhausted” or too worn down, come playoff time. Maybe they might have a small minor injury, and they’re sitting, or they don’t want to play back-to-back games because they don’t want to.
These are things that I absolutely never saw growing up watching the game.
And I do mean ever. It was a badge of honor for a player to play the full season, players wanted to play the full season. It wasn’t reckless, it wasn’t stupid, they’re getting paid to play a basketball game for the entire season, so they’re expected to play the entire season. They loved playing the game, including playing through minor injuries. Why wouldn’t they play? They’re getting paid loads of money to play a game that they played for free the vast majority of their lives.
Load management seemed to really start in San Antonio years ago when Greg Popovich would start sitting his stars. It seemed a lot of the excuses then were that they were older, and wanted them to be fresh later in the season, in the playoffs. And we all know that sports is a copycat profession, where if something is effective for one, other teams will try it too.
And here we are.
In this day and age of entitlement and softness, it’s not completely shocking to see star players just sitting around on the bench watching, almost like they’re the Varsity guys on the team, coming to watch the JV squad. One of the things that really breaks down is a lot of this shows no competitive spirit, no pride, and no desire to fight. These star players all want max deals and play part-time, it’s ridiculous.
Now there’s mumblings about lowering the regular season from 82 to 60 games. The basketball season is a long season, you have to be durable, you have to have a drive and you have to stay competitive for the whole season. The guys back in the ’60s, 70s and 80s never cried about load management.
What is going on?
These guys are getting paid millions of dollars to play a game and have fun doing it. They need to just be good employees and go to work, which means playing basketball. “Going to work” means many different things to the vast majority of people. These players are in a very fortunate situation to be paid a lot of money to go play a game. They need to be grateful, and go do their “job” and be the VegasTopDog for their team and the fans.
Not to mention the fact that fans paid good money to go and watch these guys play. They are the reason why these guys are getting the paychecks that they get, because of the fans. And when someone goes to watch their favorite player and he’s just sitting on the bench, because he’s a little too “tuckered out” to play back-to-back games, as a 27-year-old in his prime athlete, that’s not right, nobody’s going to tell me that it’s okay.
Something needs to be done about this. Maybe pay players by the game. Have an agreed upon salary and then divide it out amongst the number of games in the season. If they sit out, they lose money, that’s common math. You play for pay.
It all comes back to work ethic, that’s the truth. It just seems they don’t want to give 100% effort anymore. Karl Malone played 82 games on 10 different occasions in his career, John Stockton never missed – Reggie Miller played 80+ games in a season on 10 occasions in his career.
Just sitting out was absolutely never an option for these guys. They wanted to go out and compete. They wanted to go out and play. Go figure.