Stephen A. Smith thinks it is a major problem for the league because it markets its stars and when star players are rested, it affects the product.
“I think it’s a major problem for the NBA, because the NBA is a league that markets its stars, and so even if it’s just a select few of players if they’re stars it affects the product.”
Smith added, “a lot of these decisions sometimes comes from upper management, and upper management makes them sit down. We’re not talking about that enough and how their will is imposed upon the players, but I think what you’re seeing, and what we’ve been seeing over the last few years at least, on occasions guys are signing big time contracts, and literally managing themselves for their next contract. As opposed to prioritizing the contract that they just signed that in some cases.”
Load management has become a topic of debate in recent years, as some fans and commentators argue that it goes against the spirit of the game and shortchanges fans who pay to see their favorite players in action. Others, including many coaches and players, argue that it is a necessary tactic to keep athletes healthy and at the top of their game for the most important games of the season.
Stephen A. Smith added, “when we say load management, what I think we have to be careful of is that it implies that people are resting and taking care of themselves, as opposed to legitimately being hurt or injured.”
Smith then defers to JJ Redick, a retired NBA player, to provide more insight into the matter.
Redick agreed and believes load management is a problem because it upsets fans who pay to see their favorite players in action.
“Yes, load management is a problem for the NBA. You mentioned the word ‘product,’ well the consumers of that product are the fans, and the fans are shouting right now we have an issue with this. ‘We are buying tickets we are trying to watch games.'”
He also suggests that teams protect players and their investments to keep them at their peak during playoffs.
“I also think given the size of these contracts now, that teams are doing everything they can to protect players and protect their investment so that players are at their peak and healthy come playoffs…given the amount of investment given [and] expectations, especially with this new group of owners over the last decade plus, the expectation they all think they can win every year which is not realistic.”
Redick himself prided himself on being available and tried to play every game.
“I I prided myself on being available. You know I would say I knew I was going to get hurt, I knew I might have a hamstring injury, or back injury, a wrist and whatever it may be.”
The NBA has taken steps to address load management, including issuing fines to teams that rest healthy players in high-profile games and working to schedule games in a way that reduces the need for load management. However, the issue remains a contentious one, with no easy answers.