In any sport, athletes run the risk of being injured and basketball is no exception. In the National Basketball Association (NBA) coaches are allowed to bench players regardless of whether they are injured or not. This has generated intense backlash from fans who pay to see specific players. However, is it really so wrong for coaches and managers to want to protect their players? Fans are complaining because their favorite players are not playing when they go to see a game, but this is unfair because fans should be at a game to support a team and not a specific player. Furthermore, if a famous player was injured as a result of an intense schedule and could not perform as they did before, fans would more than likely abandon them for shiny, new, young players. Currently, Steph Curry and LeBron James are currently recognized as some of the greatest in the game, but if they are injured then they cannot help their team win. Allowing players to sit out during less important games helps keep star players healthy for when they are truly needed during the season. Allowing star players to sit out also gives opportunities to lesser known, bench players on the team who do not usually perform in professional games. Fans should not be upset by this trend, in fact they should instead be thankful that coaches and managers are smart enough to keep popular, game changing players playing for longer. This resting could extend the careers of players, which in the long term, is better for basketball fans.
During a nationally televised game against the Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Clipper Kawhi Leonard sat out the game with no apparent injury. His reason for watching the game from the bench was “load management”, a term used to describe players who do not play during a game to help preserve their bodies for later in the season. Load management is disgraceful. Players are paid millions of dollars a year to not even play a full season. There is no other league in the world where this occurs. The NBA and the National Hockey League (NHL) both play 82 games in their regular season with similar schedules. The main difference is NHL players never sit for load management. Florida Panther Keith Yandle had nine teeth knocked out during a game, had dental surgery the next morning and came back that same night to play. If an NBA player had that same injury, he would have sat out the next few games because a few NBA players have shown that they are not as tough as players from other leagues. Players sitting out games is also unfair to the fans who pay a lot of money to watch the players just to find out they are not playing. Many kids dream of watching Lebron James and to have that taken away from them for load management is unacceptable. Players do not have to play a whole game, only a few minutes is necessary, however, they should not be sitting out entire games for load management. The NBA needs to do something to stop this trend, it is embarrassing for the league and disrespectful towards their fans.