Injuries continue to mount in NBA Playoffs

Injuries continue to mount in NBA Playoffs
June 23
14:01 2021

All-star level players in the NBA continue to drop like flies during these playoffs. I am not sure if it’s the condensed season schedule, if it was the shortened offseason, or if it’s just plain coincidence, but one thing is for sure and that is these injuries have to be a concern for the league.

This is the absolute worst time of year to have injuries to superstar players. The playoffs bring more eyeballs to the television and more fans in arenas. With all of these all-star caliber players injured, I’m sure there are less people watching games than before, which is not good news for the NBA.

To date, nine all-star players have missed games this postseason, the most in league history. Joel Embiid, James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Anthony Davis, Chris Paul, Donovan Mitchell, Jaylen Brown, Mike Conley, Jamal Murray and Kawhi Leonard, have all missed at least a game due to injury. These are some of the best basketball players on the planet and it hurts to not have them during the most important time of the year.

LeBron James recently gave his take on the issue when he tweeted his thoughts last Wednesday saying, “I knew exactly what would happen. They didn’t want to listen to me about the start of the season. … I only wanted to protect the wellbeing of the players, which ultimately is the PRODUCT & BENEFIT of OUR GAME! These injuries isn’t just ‘PART OF THE GAME.’ It’s the lack of PURE RIM REST before starting back up.

“This is the best time of the year for our league and fans, but missing a ton of our fav players,” he continued.  “… If there’s one person that knows about the body and how it works all year round it’s ME! I speak for the health of all our players and I hate to see this many injuries this time of the year. Sorry fans, wish you guys were seeing all your fav guys right now.”

He followed that tweet with, “And I know all about the business side too/factors so don’t even try me! I get it.”

This is a bold stance to take by James. For him to solely blame the short offseason is not really fair, to be honest. No one can definitively say that was the reason for these injuries, especially with some of the players that have been hurt. Half of the all-star players I mentioned earlier have a history of being hurt, so we kind of expect them to miss some games based on their past.

James was not the only player to sound off on the topic. His teammate, Kyle Kuzma, weighed in as well.  

“I think it was a big impact for sure,” said Kuzma. I think we all kind of felt it during the year.  going through the year having soft-tissue injuries, having little nicks and bruises as you would any season, but a little bit more this season. Not really having an offseason. I think we only had 71 days to get ready for the season, but you got to think after winning a championship, most of us took time off because that was a long haul.

“A grueling three months and to ramp it back up really quick, I felt like that’s why you see a lot of little injuries that we had and some soft tissue with AD throughout the year, but I think a long offseason will do us all well, especially for me. I haven’t had a nice, good offseason in two years. Getting injured and obviously last year, so it’s going to be well. It’s going to do well.”

I understand that the offseason was extremely short this year. The Lakers and Heat, who faced off in the 2020 NBA Finals, didn’t finish their series until October. The 2020-21 season started in December, so that only gave those teams 71 days between the end of last season and the start of the new year.

We all know why the NBA pushed to have the season start so quickly and why the NBA players association agreed to it: money. The owners and league wanted to get in as many games as possible and the players wanted to retain their entire salaries for the year. I get where James is coming from, but for sports’ leagues, money trumps all.

The NBA didn’t wait long to respond to James’ tweets. Of course, they did not agree with what was said. “Injury rates were virtually the same this season as they were during 2019-20, while starter-level and All-Star players missed games due to injury at similar rates as the last three seasons,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in response to James’ comments, via Marc Stein of the New York Times. “While injuries are an unfortunate reality of our game, we recognize the enormous sacrifices NBA players and teams have made to play through this pandemic.”

The league is scheduled to start the 2021-22 season on time this October, which means the players will have yet another shortened offseason. Injuries are a part of the game and they will continue to happen, regardless of a shortened or regular offseason.

I am not saying James is right or wrong, but in recent memory, injuries have played a major role in what team wins the championship. Not taking anything away from them, but if Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson didn’t suffer season-ending injuries in 2019, the Toronto Raptors would not have won the championship that year. A few years earlier, LeBron James basically took on the Warriors by himself. When his teammates Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were injured during their playoff run, that opened the door for the Warriors’ dynasty. It would have been interesting to see how that series would have played out with both teams healthy.

Let’s just hope we can finish these playoffs with no more injuries to any stars. As it stands now, the championship is up for grabs. May the best team win.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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