One of the hottest topics surrounding this season has been the use of load management among players. Namely, Kawhi Leonard. Everyone has their different opinions on the matter from players, coaches, analysts, even the fans have gotten into it. Well, let me break-down load management for you from the perspective of a fan.
Load Management From An NBA Fan’s Perspective
What Is It?
First off what is load management? Well, load management is just a clever term used to rest players and get them extra rest. This is in addition to their normal days off during an NBA season. For example, let’s say a player plays on Tuesday in Memphis and then plays again on Wednesday in Utah. A coach might sit the player out one of those games due to “load management” just to get them some extra rest. Or if a player is nursing a minor injury or had a surgical procedure in the off-season and needs to be closely watched as the season goes on. Some agree with the idea of it. Others think it’s cheap and bad for the game.
The Voice Of A Fan
I have been a basketball fan and an NBA fan for almost 20 years. I can remember back in the early ’90s and ’00s the idea of sitting healthy players was a foreign concept. You wouldn’t dare do something crazy like that. I can remember when my friend gave me one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever gotten: Lakers tickets. It was the Los Angeles Lakers against the Minnesota Timberwolves. It was a star-studded affair, Lebron James, Karl Anthony Towns, Jimmy Butler, Brandon Ingram. Just a few names, to say the least. I was beyond excited one would say I even cried a little bit.
Now can you imagine my disappointment if when we arrived at the game only to find out Lebron and players were sitting due to “load management.” Would I still have enjoyed the game with my friend? Absolutely. But to not have the biggest names and the stars playing would be a letdown. To have my friend pay all her hard-earned money for tickets and lodging just to go to a game and find out the best players are sitting for no reason doesn’t seem right to me. At the very least, instead of sitting a player the entire game, you could put them on a minute restriction.
What About The Players
Just because a player makes millions of dollars, it doesn’t mean they aren’t human. I am not one to sit there and force a player to play the game. If a player is nursing an injury or had a health concern then I understand sitting. But, as Kobe Bryant once said, “no, the only time I took a game off is when I couldn’t walk. There are kids in the crowd and families in the crowd….this will be the only time they get a chance to see you. They save up their hard-earned money to watch you perform. So, if you can walk and perform, get there and perform.” And that was true to form. Unless the injury was serious, I rarely ever remember Bryant sitting out a game. I mean, I watched the man win a championship with a broken finger on his shooting hand, no less.
Sometimes you have to take a step back and think about the players. Some want to prolong their careers some have business ventures and endorsement deals. Some want to make deep playoff runs and feel like sitting games to rest and prolong health will pay off in the long run. This was shown by Leonard last year. Kawhi Leonard sat more than 20 games last year due to “load management” and the Toronto Raptors ended up winning a championship. So maybe it does work. Maybe teams might be on to something.
Where Do We Go From Here
The truth of the matter is regardless of if people like it or not, “load management” is a part of the NBA today. Not everyone will agree with the idea of sitting healthy players out of games. I certainly think it’s a bit of a flawed philosophy. Maybe I’m considered old school for thinking that way. One thing we can do is implement some sort of refund to fans. So that if a player does happen to sit, the fans will get a portion of their money back. Or you can give that player a minutes restriction.
I’m sure there are a ton of different solutions to remedy this issue so that the player and the everyday fan can walk away happy. I’ve been a fan of the NBA for almost 20 years, and my friend and I are die-hard Lakers fans. If she were to ever surprise me with Lakers tickets again I don’t want to have the fear of Lebron James or Anthony Davis sitting out for no reason to be in the back of our minds.
A permanent solution may be presented to the league in the near future. Who really knows? But until that day comes, make sure you do your research ladies and gentlemen before buying tickets because it looks like load management is here to stay.