Load management now a part of the ‘new NBA’

Load  management now a part of the ‘new NBA’
November 14
07:35 2019

I have been hearing the term “load management” for several years now. In the beginning I thought it was a great idea for aging veterans trying to save energy for a playoff run, but now it seems many star players in their prime are taking advantage of the new trend in today’s NBA.

Most notably, Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard has been using this formula for the last two seasons with great results, but I am not a fan of it to be honest. Leonard missed 22 games last year playing for the Toronto Raptors, mostly due to load management, and the Raptors won the championship.  

That formula has worked for Leonard, but who’s to say he wouldn’t have won the championship with Toronto last year playing all 82 games. Either way, I am not a fan of players taking off nights just to rest; that’s not how I grew up watching the game.

I understand using this tactic with a player that is dealing with an injury, but a fully healthy player should be out there. There are ways to get a player extended rest during a game. A team can even limit his minutes if need be. You never know what fan came out specifically to see one player live and to have that player sit due to load management must be a letdown for that fan.

When I was growing up, the greats like Jordan, Miller, Ewing, Barkley, Olajuwon and many others played as many games as possible, unless they were injured. They understood it was not just for the teams, but also the fans, especially those in the other conference who may only get the opportunity to see them play once the entire season.

I am not saying the players owe anything to the fans, but we are the ones who turn them into superstars in the first place, so lacing them up for as many games as possible should be a given. We all know the grind the players endure during the season, but playing 60 games when you are capable of playing 82 just doesn’t sit right with me.

I am glad this fad has not caught on more with the superstars in the league. Current and former players, along with many sports analysts, have weighed in on the topic and let’s just say they are not in favor of load management either.

“Fans and media should take the blame [for load management] because you guys have shown players that you don’t care about the journey, the 82-game season, you care about the destination,” said Jalen Rose, NBA analyst for ESPN.  “You dumb it down so very much that the regular season became irrelevant to you and how you analyze players, and you only talk about how many championships people have won.”

I could not have said it better myself. I agree that load management has become normalized by the league, because people have come to accept it as part of the “new NBA.” Thankfully, not all players are getting on board.

“Even if I’m a little banged up, I try to push through to a certain extent,” said James Harden. “Have you ever seen me not play because of load management?”

LeBron James is six years older than Leonard and is coming off the first major he has ever had during his 17-year career. Last season he suffered a torn groin, but is committed to playing every chance he can suit up.

“LeBron’s healthy, LeBron’ll play. That’s all I’ll talk about,” James said, when asked about load management. “I don’t talk about nobody else but me.”

“If I’m hurt, I don’t play. If not, I’m playing,” James told ESPN. “That’s what has always been my motto.”

I wouldn’t call players using load management weak, but more of the players asserting their power in the league. I just hope and pray that it remains a tactic used by the few and not more. We all enjoy seeing the stars perform, so hopefully they will realize it’s better to play rather than taking a rest.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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