The Los Angeles Lakers won’t play another game until October, but LeBron James clearly wasn’t ready to stop the dunking. After a first-round playoff exit of his career, James responded with a crest wave of injuries The NBA’s social media scolding sustained by marquee stars
In response to a grim bulletin about Los Angeles Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard, who was indefinitely ruled out after sustaining a knee sprain in the Clippers’ second-round series against the Utah Jazz, James took to Twitter . He praised fans for their record-setting eight current All-Stars who have missed at least one game this post-season – and for “protecting the well-being of players” this pandemic season. Criticized league officials.
By more he meant less: James said he issued a clear warning about the increased risk of injury in the 72-game regular season between December 22 and May 16, with playoff time ending just before the Tokyo Olympics. Playing fewer games than it did in mid-January in the beginning. The 2019-20 season, remember, went astray in October and resulted in the shortest off-season in league history after a four-month halt imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.
“They all didn’t want to hear me talk about the start of the season,” James wrote. “I knew exactly what would happen.”
Volunteer? Yes. unclear? Yes again. As a rationalization for a lack of clarity as well as a swift end to the Lakers’ title defense, there was an undeniable jolt of convenience to James’ comments. James did not specify to whom, when or where those warnings were recorded. He was also, of course, aware that the 2020-21 schedule was mutually agreed upon by league officials and the National Basketball Players Association, and at a later start, as James expected, much Chances are both sides will cost significant television revenue by falling to shame at the 72-game threshold.
Still, it was, above all, a loud and powerful “told you so” on James’s part that brushed out the disclaimers. It Was More Biting Than Its Recent Blasts About the NBA The decision to stage the All-Star Game In Atlanta in March, protests were held against Playoff Play-in Tournament That their Lakers, after prolonged injuries that both James and Anthony Davis fell, had to win to make the playoffs after slipping to No. 7 in the West.
beyond the uncomfortable spotlight he brought to a drenching With the NBA postseason increasingly known for who isn’t able to play, James said what many of his teammates are certainly thinking — using his biggest in-game megaphone. The rant highlights a major concern among front offices and medical staff throughout the league: Will the cost, present and future, stack up to two pandemic seasons with so little change?
The players’ union agreed to that timeline after learning that the NBA’s television partners pushed for it. Players, who essentially split annual profits and losses equally with team owners, were told that starting in December instead of January would result in about $500 in revenue after a $1.5 billion decrease in the previous season. million would be the difference. No less important for the league office this season was the opportunity to return to its normal October-to-June arc in 2021–22.
in retrospect? It was a huge ask. The physical and mental toll of last season’s resumption in the Florida bubble, combined with the rigors of a season in domestic markets governed by strict Covid-19 protocols and daily testing that ate into rest and recovery time, left teams He was terrified from the start because of a flurry of soft-tissue injuries. The player’s stress and lost training time, with the second-half crush of games to complete with less practice and earlier postponements, only heightened those fears.
As the number of injured stars became a major second-half story, whether it was actually a byproduct of a compressed schedule or purely misfortune as seen with the ankle injuries sustained by James and the Nets’ Kyrie Irving, More questions emerged. One of the biggest: How will the franchise cornerstones that carry such a demanding load come back next season?
“I don’t know if people get the questions you asked,” Philadelphia 76ers coach, Doc Rivers, told me. “There’s a lot of stress on those people. Some people log heavy minutes — they have to do more.”
Rivers’ All-Star center, Joel Embiid, is one of those people. Embiid is playing through a small meniscus tear in his right knee and, after an emphatic start in Philadelphia’s second-round series against Atlanta, the top-seeded Sixers were in a 3–2 deficit from entering Game 6. Was unable to stop falling. way.
The eight All-Stars who have missed at least one playoff game include Embiid. If Chris Paul of Phoenix, who entered the league’s health and safety this week, that number would increase to nine protocol, has to miss any finals of the upcoming Western Conference.
As I’ve been writing since April, the uncharacteristically wide-open nature of these playoffs has little charm to celebrate, when the mystery largely stems from Game- and Series-Changing Absentee.
NBA spokesman Mike Bass said, “Injury rates were virtually the same this season as during 2019-20, while starter-level and All-Star players missed games due to injury at similar rates as in the previous three seasons. ” Internal data of the league. “While injuries are an unfortunate reality of our sport, we recognize the enormous sacrifices NBA players and teams make to play through this pandemic.”
While it is true that one of the sport’s eternal struggles has been conclusively attributing an injury to overuse, and that no one outside can conclusively say that the 60-game schedule gave the stars 72 Games, internal data that has not been made public with clear boundaries. Thanks to James’ outbursts, more attention has been paid to the numbers given by the Elias Sports Bureau. This put the most pressure on the league to prove that 72 games in the five months before the playoffs, even with less travel, was not injury-prone.
Kevin Durant Uncorked a performance for ages (49 points from 48 minutes) on Tuesday to propel the Nets to the brink of the Eastern Conference Finals despite Irving’s absence and limited effectiveness on James Harden’s injured right hamstring. Hours after the Clippers and Sons lost Leonard and Paul on Wednesday, Atlanta tried to bring the attention back to basketball with their remarkable Game 5 comeback against the 76ers — or, depending on your point of view, the bottomless fold of Philadelphia. .
These are the things we should dissect. The Leonard-less Clippers’ Game 5 win in Utah, inspired by Paul George, was another after the Sixers lost a 26-point lead to the Hawks.
Time and again, sadly, injuries have changed the conversation. They affect every post-season, true, but the intrusions have been persistent since March 20, when James (sprained high after a collision with Atlanta’s Solomon Hill) and Charlotte’s Newly Named Rookie of the Year Award Winner LaMelo Ball (broken wrist after hitting the floor) suffered an injury the same day.
Elias broadcast last week that this season’s 27 All-Stars missed a higher rate of games (13.7 games per player and 19 percent overall) than any previous season. Players’ union executive director Mitchell Roberts declined to comment on Wednesday when asked whether James had raised his concerns about such developments in consultation with union officials ahead of the season.
“I speak for the health of all my players and I hate to see so many injuries at this time of year,” James said as part of his rim-shaking social media post.
On occasion, and on the subject, he had comments heard and felt by an entire league.