By Shaquira Speaks
The Cleveland Cavaliers, San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors are headlining the new debate on if players should rest or not.
The debate intensified over the past few weeks when head coach Steve Kerr decided not to play Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson or Draymond Green during their visit to the Spurs. Then, on March 18, it was the Cavs, who chose to rest LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love against the Clippers.
The problem that the fans and the NBA executives are having is not only that it’s during back-to-back games but the teams decide to rest their players during big, nationally televised games.
Two weeks ago, head coach Doc Rivers of the Los Angeles Clippers, rested DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin against the Denver Nuggets. Jordan and Griffin didn’t even travel to Denver with the team. “I do know one thing, and I said it the other day, is that we really have to protect the national games,” said Rivers in an interview with the LA Times.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver sent a memo to the NBA owners on Tuesday, March 21, warning them of the possible consequences that would take place if they continued to rest their players without notifying the NBA’s front office in enough time.
James told ESPN’s Cavaliers reporter Dave McMenamin, in an interview after their matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers, “I don’t think the NBA can do anything about it. At the end of the day, it sucks at times where certain guys have to rest, but certain guys need rest.”
James, 32, has been thoroughly criticized for resting as much as he does. Critics have compared him to Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, saying that they never sat out for games. But the need for rest mostly comes from his physical style of play.
He’s averaged 37.6 minutes a game (second behind Toronto Raptor’s Kyle Lowry) and is often finding his points in the paint after he has banged around inside against other players. After doing that in consecutive games, it begins to take a toll on your body.
According to ABCNews, the average person has a problem dealing with daylight saving time. Imagine what it would be like have to put your body through different sleep schedules consecutively, then running, shooting and defending for about 35 minutes for the next eight days. It’s definitely not the same as driving for four hours or more to attend a basketball game.
Steve Kerr and the Warriors dealt with that while they were in the midst of playing eight games in eight cities in three time zones over the course of 13 days from Feb. 27 to March 11. They didn’t get to just sit down and eat popcorn or hotdogs, they had to go to work.
The San Antonio game came at the tail-end of their trip and despite it being a pivotal game Kerr stood by his decision to give his players a break. “We still want the No. 1 seed,” Kerr said Thursday night in an interview. “I’m not going to run guys too ragged to get it. Obviously, we want it, it would be nice to get. But you have to get through the season in one piece. You have to pace yourselves a little bit.”
There have been numerous people giving their suggestions on how to eliminate resting players.
An idea voiced on the morning edition of SportsCenter suggested that the league should implement another break “similar to the All-Star break” in March during NCAA’s March Madness. Another reporter suggested that players like James should lessen their minutes and over time it will add up to adequate rest. Other reporters have suggested shortening the season.
NBA analyst Jalen Rose said that during his time in the NBA, coaches found other ways to rest their players. Whether it was giving them a day off from practice or shortening the time of practice, they found a way to get it done without affecting the game. That would explain how Jordan and Bryant were able to play all 82 games and the postseason without hurting their fans or the franchise.
Resting players could be good for a team with an adequate starting lineup, and who consume the majority of the minutes. How else will you know how good your team is if you don’t take away a piece of the puzzle? It allows your second-string to come in and get a feel for starting the game and creating the ebb and flow.
How else will they understand how to rely on each other to make a comeback if they know their star can’t bail them out? Putting your bench in at the end of the game, after their already up by 15 or down by 15, doesn’t get the coach good looks on game play.