Let’s all be honest, the NFL has had its fair share of problems between player misconduct and well… Mr. Goodell, but we all know that the NBA is quickly becoming the laughing stock of professional sports. With the blatant lack of defensive intensity, the ridiculous amount of flops and the amount of games missed for “rest,” the National Basketball Association’s mockery starts on the court and continues off the court (cough cough Lavar Ball, Charles Barkley, LeBron James).
So let’s talk about the days off. I can look at this in a variety of different ways, but I continue to come to the same conclusion… this generation of NBA players has become weak.
Take it from a civilian perspective, most working class Americans might get 5 days off in a calendar year. That’s 12 months of work. So obviously, you have to take into account that NBA players are doing physical labor so to speak, but they also get days off in between games throughout the season. I’d also like to mention that they get about three months off each offseason. I know that they are human beings and need time to rest and recuperate, but they get their R & R on private islands and fancy resorts.
Now, let’s take a look at it from a basketball perspective. There have been plenty of superstars over the years who have led long careers and still played every night. Combine that with the advancements in physical therapy and sports medicine, and you shouldn’t miss a single game if you are healthy.
LeBron James spoke about how Spurs head coach Gregg Poppovich has been resting players for years and it has paid off with 5 championships. That is very true, but I believe that it is on the player whether they want to play or not. James also said that not every NBA coach has the same kind of stature as Poppovich, which is also true. NBA superstars tower over most coaches in terms of power. None more than LeBron, so it is his choice if he wants to play or not. Just ask James Harden and Russell Westbrook.
Looking at it from a numbers perspective, Michael Jordan played 80 or more games in 11 of his 15 seasons. One of those 4 seasons he missed more than 2 games was due to injury, and another was when he returned from his baseball stint late in the 1995 season. Jordan actually played all 82 games nine times including his final season with the Wizards.
On the other hand, LeBron James has never played in all 82 games, and in 14 seasons, he has only reached 80 games twice. For those of you who want to say that James plays more than MJ or it’s because he makes the Finals every year, James averages 38.9 minutes per game for his career. MJ averaged 38.3 mpg. Jordan also played all 82 games in each of the last three championship seasons in Chicago.
Karl Malone played 80 or more games in 17 of his 19 seasons, including all 82 games 10 times. His teammate John Stockton played in all 82 games in an astounding 16 of his 19 seasons. Keep in mind, they also had deep playoff runs.
So I ask you… what is your excuse?
Steph Curry (8 seasons), Dwyane Wade (14 seasons) and Carmelo Anthony (14 seasons) have never played in 82 games in a season. Anthony and Curry have only reached 80 twice each, and Wade has never reached that mark. In fact, Anthony hasn’t even reached 70 games in 8 of his 14 seasons.
Nevertheless, that shouldn’t be the reason why you want to play day in and day out. It should be because 1) you get to play basketball for a living. It’s the thing you grew up dreaming of. It’s the thing you’ve given your life to. And 2) think of the children out there that idolize you. The kids that wear your jersey when they hoop. The poor father that scrapped together the money to buy tickets to a game just so his son could see you play.
What do you say to that family? To that child?
I just believe that the fans deserve to see their favorite players play when they go to the game. Home or away. It may sound selfish to treat the players like an object. Like entertainment. But to be completely honest, they are just that. And they get paid very handsomely to entertain. Some of them make even more money off the court because their fans buy shoes and jerseys and all sorts of other endorsed products. The least these players could do is their job.
Moral of the story, it’s a game. Go play it.
Sports Writer. Avid sports fan. University of Wisconsin-Whitewater graduate. Currently living in Tempe, AZ.