Kawhi Leonard is one of the best players in the NBA. An MVP candidate and finals MVP last season, Leonard was one of the most talked about players in the league, despite his quiet and reserved demeanor. This past offseason, Leonard shocked Canada as well as NBA twitter as he chose to team up with fellow superstar and California native Paul George on the Los Angeles Clippers.
However, Leonard’s success has been marred with controversy. Leonard was traded to the Toronto Raptors last offseason after losing trust with his previous team, the San Antonio Spurs.
He claimed that the Spurs’ medical staff mishandled an injury he sustained during the playoffs that forced him to sit the rest of the playoffs and most of the regular season. To help get Leonard on the court and manage his health, the Raptors and now the Clippers implemented a strategy known as “load management.”
The NBA season is long and tedious, and many players struggle to play all 82 games. While load management was relevant prior to Leonard, he brought it into the spotlight.
This season, the excitement caused by Leonard’s move to Los Angeles has landed the Clippers in numerous primetime games. However, Clippers coach Doc Rivers is less concerned about the fans watching Leonard and more concerned about his star. And rightfully so.
When healthy, Leonard alone can change a series. He is one of the best two-way players in the game. River’s main concern right now is having Leonard available for a tough run through the Western Conference playoffs. That should also be the main concern for Clippers fans. Of course, it is understandable why the NBA would dislike this.
The NBA places teams in nationally televised games because they believe the teams are interesting or good and can attract more fans or get fans of other teams to watch them. These games are meant to pull the biggest audiences and the most ad revenue of any in that week. But if a team’s star player does not play, that obviously hurts their marketability. If the player is able to perform and their reason for being inactive is rest and recovery, the league is upset. But the logic the Clippers employ is valid league wide.
While this is a business, money is still going to be made. People will still watch, and if not, they will in the playoffs. These teams hire coaches and trainers to make the best decisions for the teams to win long term and monitoring the health and well-being of their best players falls into that category.
– Joseph Quirk ’23
Load management in the NBA is defined as balancing the level of playing time in which a player utilizes in the league. This concept is terrible for the future of the NBA.
Load management is just a way to give superstar players a day off in the NBA in order to rest their talents for the playoffs. These superstars are taking off on games that are back-to-back nights throughout the week or even when the team is playing a weaker team.
One big advocate for load management has been NBA champion and small forward for the LA Clippers, Kawhi Leonard. While there is nothing wrong with a player being concerned with his health, which is always the number one focus when playing in a professional sport, there is a time and a place in which players should and should not rest.
If a player knows he is hurt and the doctors order him not to play, then he should not play; however, if he is 100 percent healthy he should be focused on playing. You do not see other elite players such as Giannis Antetokounmpo and Luka Doncic take days off for load management.
Another factor that plays into why load management is unnecessary is that it takes away from the experience of watching the game. Imagine paying a lot of money for a ticket to watch your favorite NBA player live in person, and you do not get to see him that day due to the player wanting to take some time off.
There are plenty of young players willing to play a 82 game season; meanwhile, these all-stars think they are tough and want to take some time off to rest. They need to be there to contribute to the team and help secure wins and chemistry for the ongoing season.
Without the superstars, the NBA is boring to watch and television ratings slip. The league is not doing enough to prevent these load management situations throughout the entire NBA, allowing their players to walk all over the front office.
It is time to put an end to load management once and for all to make sure all players are equally contributing to their teams.
– Sullivan Burgess ’20