The Great Load Management Debate of 2019 is nearing its end, shockingly, without any revolutionary conclusions. The only thing that was confirmed that every generation has its "I walked to school every day for X minutes" (the older they get, the longer the walk was) and for NBA basketball players from the 90s load management is their walk through rain, snow, and whatnot. Barkley's latest comment on this issue describes it perfectly. (via Fox Sports)
"I'm never going to agree on ‘Load Management’. It always worked when the greatest players who ever played the game played as much as possible, and they had bad shoes and didn’t have the best doctors in the world like they do today. They also don’t fly commercial like we did. In my first two years in the NBA I’d be in coach with some old lady laying on my damn shoulder for three hours, and then have to guard Hakeem Olajuwon or Karl Malone. I didn’t fly first class until my third year in the league."
Entertaining as always, Barkley doesn't really make a point here. Players before him drove to a lot of games by bus - should his teams have done the same? I'm sure Bill Walton wouldn't agree that "it always worked" back in the good old days. Is it possible something else is bugging Charles? (via Fox Sports)
"The thing that bothers people is when guys are resting healthy. Guys are making 30 and 40 million dollars a year. If Doctor J, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Kareem, Bill Russell, and those guys could play every night in crappy shoes, fly commercial, and make $100,000 a year, a guy making $40-$50 million a year don’t need ‘Load Management’. These guys don’t have any loyalty to a team or a city and it’s why ratings are down."
If Doctor J and Larry Bird could've flown first class, get $20 million a year, and rest healthy to play five years longer, they would absolutely do it. Yes, players today have better infrastructure in place while playing in the NBA, that doesn't make them lazy or spoiled. Every generation thinks "kids these days" don't know what hard work is, and they have it easy.
Players resting during an absurdly long regular season is a consequence of playing in an era where only championships matter. Barkley and Malone were appreciated even though they didn't win ring; players today don't have that luxury. They also have social media to remind them of that every day. So what do players do? They change their focus from winning in the regular season to winning in playoffs - thus resting some in the regular season.
That's why historical comparisons are useless most of the time. You have to take (almost) everything into consideration before passing judgment. There are a lot of challenges players today have that players in Barkley's era didn't have.
Ratings are down because of youtube, social media, cord-cutters, and a million other reasons. Players resting a few games isn't in the top 10 reasons why.