One of the biggest controversies every season in the NBA is superstar players taking extra games off for rest purposes.
Fans who pay good money to attend games want to see top talent like LeBron James. They want to see full teams operate like the San Antonio Spurs. When that doesn't happen despite players being healthy, it's a bad look for the NBA.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver is putting his foot down on the subject, sending a stern warning to teams regarding the subject. The Cavaliers recently rested James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love in a primetime game on ABC, and apparently Silver has seen enough.
Silver warned that teams will receive "significant penalties" if they continue to wait until the last minute to announce a player will sit out of a game "due to rest," in a memo obtained by Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. He also states that owners should have a say in resting players.
That's a big statement and line in the sand being drawn by the commissioner.
James was asked about Silver's comments and disagreed with the plan. He looks completely dumbfounded at the idea that an owner should have any say in the matter:
LeBron took it even further, arguing that that "resting" only became a problem in the league once he started taking nights off.
“I don’t understand why it’s becoming a problem now, because I started to sit out a couple games? It is the case. It’s absolutely the case,” James said.
“Listen. Pop has been doing this 10 years, 12 years, 15 years and everybody was like, ‘You know what? That’s the smartest thing Pop has ever done.’ Give his guys a couple games off and here they go, five championships."
— Joe Vardon (@joevardon) 21 марта 2017 г.
It's a tough situation, because as sports medicine, analytics and science continue improving, data suggests that going full throttle through an 82-game season and any potential playoff time is a health risk for players.
More and more teams have adopted the strategy, made most notable by Gregg Popovich and the Spurs over the last decade-plus. As NBA medical staffs gather more nuanced data and information regarding keeping their players healthy, it's become common practice.
People paying good money are showing up to games to see players who have no actual injuries play, though, and being robbed of that chance despite players like LeBron or Kawhi Leonard being healthy is a disservice to the audience that's been driving the popularity of the league.
The NBA typically saves important policy topics, like regulating how teams handle resting players, for offseason meetings. One of the popular solutions to this problem is elongating the days in the season, therefore providing more time to rest between games.