If “Game 7” are the greatest two words in sports, “load management” might fall on the opposite end of the spectrum.
No longer a new phenomenon in the NBA world, players young and old are missing time for scheduled rest with the idea of limiting their workload, often resulting in the disappointment of fans. At the NBA Launchpad event in Las Vegas, league commissioner Adam Silver provided his assessment of load management, complete with a callout of an NBA executive in attendance.
“There’s nothing more frustrating for our fans than having players, frankly, who aren’t injured following some program schedule for rest,” Silver said to those in attendance.
Before he continued with his assessment, Silver added that he was “looking at R.C. [Buford], you started this all,” giving the serious quip with a smile.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver on load management: “There’s nothing more frustrating also for our fans than having players, frankly, who aren’t injured following some program schedule for rest. I’m looking at [Spurs executive] R.C. [Buford], you started this all.” pic.twitter.com/AJTyHs4PX4
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) July 12, 2022
Buford is entering his 29th season with the Spurs organization and is set to begin his fourth as the franchise’s CEO after spending 17 years as the franchise’s general manager. It was during Buford’s time as GM that he and head coach Gregg Popovich were credited with giving legs to the concept of scheduled rest for healthy players.
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In November 2012, the Spurs franchise was fined $250,000 for sending Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Danny Green and Tony Parker back to San Antonio instead of playing them in a nationally televised game against the Heat, which was the Spurs’ lone visit to Miami during that regular season.
Then-commissioner David Stern “concluded that the Spurs did a disservice to the league and our fans,” based on the circumstances of it being an early-season game and Miami fans’ only opportunity to catch the Spurs during the regular season.
On the other end of the spectrum, San Antonio took precaution on its fourth game in five nights and on the second end of a back-to-back, circumstances that often result in load management to this day.
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Over the last decade, the NBA has taken efforts to limit load management by decreasing the number of back-to-backs and busy stretches but scheduled rest remains prevalent. In an effort to combat the issue and limit scheduled rest, the league has considered the idea of shortening the season, which became a hot topic among players — retired and active — during the NBA Finals.
Richard Jefferson is not a fan of shortening the NBA season.
“Professional sports is not good on your body. It’s supposed to separate the people that can do it from the people that can’t do it. … Part of greatness is longevity.” pic.twitter.com/LFYTEGP9fA
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) June 3, 2022
Silver added that “figuring out a way to create that right, healthy balance,” is a priority moving forward. Whether or not that means a shortened season or harsher load management penalties remains to be seen, but the issue will be addressed in the near future.