Man oh man, it’s been a really interesting week for the NBA.
On Monday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver sent a league-wide memo stating that resting star players in marquee match-ups is “an extremely significant issue for our league.”
He’s right. But not for the reasons he’s stating. Well, not all of them at least.
“Decisions of this kind … can affect fans and business partners, impact our reputation and damage the perception of our game,” Silver wrote. “With so much at stake, it is simply not acceptable for governors to be uninvolved or to defer decision-making authority on these matters to others in their organizations.”
Where Silver is dead on is that resting players people pay to see directly affects the fans, and in the end, those are the people who end up getting screwed the most by this. If a kid in Minnesota who has his only chance to see LeBron taken away from him because the Cleveland Cavaliers are resting their players that night, it sucks. However, there’s not really a tangible way to fix it. At least not completely.
Dylan and Paul propose some radical changes to the NBA. What do you think Nation – what changes would you make to the NBA to improve the game? Do you agree with Paul or Dylan?
Posted by Detroit Sports Nation on Friday, March 17, 2017
The most thrown around solution to resting players is eliminating back-to-back games. The idea is that the players bodies will take less of a toll, so they will be fresher throughout the season.
The problem with that is it won’t stop players from resting. The teams that rest players are generally the ones that have a shot at winning the title. So whether or not game #67 of the regular season is on a Monday or Tuesday, LeBron James will still be resting as long as the Cavaliers are in a position to cruise into the playoffs.
The league has also contemplated handing down significant fines for teams who rest players that aren’t dealing with an injury. Hitting them in the pocket books will help, but not by itself. Along with fines, the league would have to extend the season and maybe not eliminate back-to-backs altogether, but definitely rid themselves of any team playing four games in five nights, because that’s ridiculous.
Now we’re getting somewhere, but even in that course of action which would seem most effective, there’s still one giant loophole…. injury. What would stop the Golden State Warriors from putting Stephen Curry on the injury report as day-to-day for an ankle in order to get him some rest? The answer is nothing.
When Silver mentions the business partners, that’s where it gets fun, because that’s really what this is all about. These networks that broadcast these marquee games as nationally televised battles between two juggernauts only to have five or six all-stars sit out are rightfully pissed and they’re letting the league know. It’s also a problem for the league because that’s the only time people really care.
If Chris Paul sat out a regular under the radar game against the Detroit Pistons, his rest would be nothing more than a blip on ESPN’s bottom line. But because everybody can now see that these players aren’t playing, it becomes a huge issue.
Most people that have an issue with it, however, are dense. That’s not meant disrespectfully, it’s just that they don’t see the whole picture. The biggest giveaway that somebody really doesn’t understand all the factors at play are when they blame the players themselves.
The vast majority of the time, it’s not the players asking for rest. It’s the coaches and team executives that are making that call that says, “hey, you’re not playing tonight, we got bigger goals.” They know they have a chance at a championship, and they’re not going to risk that because little Timmy in Brooklyn or Memphis is a huge fan of their best player. It doesn’t make sense.
As much as the “fans pay the players salary!” argument strikes a nerve and riles people up, there are also those that get those salaries that would like to keep their jobs. The best way to do that is to contend every year, and the best way to contend every year is to make sure your stars are healthy and able to suit up by the time the playoffs come around.
I’m a fan like all of you. I would love to see the players play every game, but I do think the conversation needs to be shifted away from solely being concerned about the fans in order to see the full perspective and understand everything around the issue of resting players.
“Everybody’s got to make decisions based on what’s best for them and their organization……. My only thing is that I hope that everybody, when they’re making the decisions, whatever it is they decide, at least factors the fans into the decision……I don’t like the idea, though, just philosophically, of saying we’re going to pay people for 82 (games) and play ‘em less than that.”
That quote from Pistons ead coach and President of Basketball Operations Stan Van Gundy helps emphasize the awkward limbo of appeasing the fans and having the players do their “job,” while also understanding that in order for a team to meet the ultimate goal, they really can’t be concerned with the perception of players resting.