The subject of whether or not the NBA has become too soft has been a trending topic lately due to NBA commissioner Adam Silver claiming he and his staff are looking into potentially shortening the league’s regular season. It has led to some impassioned pleas from guys like Richard Jefferson that it would be a terrible move for the league and that the overall feel of the league has become way too player-oriented nowadays.
The consensus is that the NBA already caters to its players a lot, and reducing their regular season schedule only benefits them. Things such as load management and regular days off have recently become somewhat common in the NBA, as teams look to protect their players. The argument is that if these players are already missing games, why take more games off the schedule?
McCollum and Redick think many players don’t like to take rest days
The topic made its way to ESPN’s First Take, and Stephen A. Smith discussed it with CJ McCollum and JJ Redick. Both guys disagreed that NBA players nowadays want to take rest days. McCollum believes there’s a bit of a misconception about the NBA being soft nowadays, and Silver’s suggestion of shortening the season hasn’t helped that go away.
“McCollum says, ‘There’s this misconception if you will, that players just choose to sit out games. JJ played in the league a long time. How often did your staff tell you, ‘JJ, this is a designated rest day’? Redick responded, ‘I’d fight them on it’” - CJ McCollum & JJ Redick, First Take
McCollum believes that NBA teams are doing more to protect their players nowadays
McCollum and Reddick don’t believe that many players around the league want to take days off when their teams approach them about it. McCollum stated that teams have more of an incentive to rest their players and try to keep them healthy for later on in the season and that, for whatever reason, that suddenly becomes the players’ fault.
“I played in Portland for a long time with Damian Lillard, everybody knows that. There were times when we’d go through the calendar, and we were supposed to pick rest days. Dame and I would look at each other, and we’d go through our designated rest days, back-to-backs, four (games) in fives (days), five (games) in sevens (days), whatever the case may be. We would agree to sit games. The game would come up on the schedule, I’d look at Dame, he’d look at me, and I would say, ‘I’m playing tonight, are you playing tonight?’ and he’d be like, ‘yeah.’ We’d laugh about it because we sit those games, people think we are sitting out, but in reality, it’s the team’s job to protect that eight-figure, nine-figure endorsement. And the way to protect that is to shield us from games that are considered high risk of injury.” - CJ McCollum, First Take.
McCollum’s example from his time with the Portland Trail Blazers highlights the dilemma players face nowadays in the NBA. Teams want to do what they can to protect their players from the rigors of the NBA schedule, but if the players agree to that, it often results in blowback on them, when most of them would rather play than take a rest day for whatever reason.
There are cases where fans have legitimate gripes about players sitting out games for rest days. There may not be a sports league where the regular season matters less than the NBA, but that’s how it is nowadays. Teams value their health for the playoffs rather than a random back-to-back slate of games in the middle of February.
The players shouldn’t shoulder all the blame for this issue, but it is a case-by-case issue. There are certainly players out there who love their days off because it gives them time to recover in the middle of the season. Whether or not that is actually soft is up to you. It’s clear that this is an issue that doesn’t fall solely on the players, and McCollum and Redick did a good job expressing that here.