Many fans were elated to have the NBA season back after months of lockout. All the parties, owners, players, and fans, were overzealous to get the season started without having much of a foresight for the ridiculous strain that players were about to put on their body.
Once the CBA was signed, it was determined that we would attempt to jam 66 games into just four months and change. A normal season lasts from October until mid April. That’s about six months. So the NBA decided it was a good thing to play 80% of the games in about 67% of a regular season.
That’s a recipe for disaster. Sure, some players came into this season healthy and ready to go, but playing summer ball leagues is no where near the conditioning needed to play at the top level. Many teams already are playing several more back-to-back games, and everyone gets at least one back-to-back-to-back. With the playoffs just around the corner, many teams are not going to be at full strength, when theoretically, the best games should happen.
Kobe Bryant has been hampered by injuries, Superman has found his Kryptonite, Chauncey Billups was lost for the season, Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, Al Horford, Derrick Rose, Anderson Varejao, Chris Bosh, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Brook Lopez, Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, Jeremy Lin, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett all have spent time away for various injures. And that is just a handful of the overall players on the list. Much more than half of the NBA players have missed a game for injuries and not rest.
NBA fans want to watch their favorite players come playoff time, but that might not happen this year. The talk about the playoffs could be whose not playing rather than who is playing. Chauncey Billups was supposed to help the Los Angeles Clippers and the USA National Team make a splash this year. Dwight Howard is now done for the playoffs, which very much could cost Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy his job (although if you believe the rumors he was already on the way out). Jeremy Lin gave the New York Knicks a true point guard they have not had under Mike D’Antoni, and he stepped down earlier.
Imagine if Derrick Rose’s back is re-aggravated during the playoffs and he has to miss a few games. The Chicago Bulls, the best team in the Eastern Conference, could be sent home before they should. Also imagine if LeBron James left the playoffs with an injury, and the Miami Heat struggle and lose. The only way the San Antonio Spurs make a deep run is if Manu Ginobili is healthy. The story lines transform from those who are playing to what could have been.
Sure, there are story lines every year about who is or who is not going to play, but this season could be one of the most controversial. Players have put out their best (or they should have) for 66 games in a compressed schedule. Fatigue is going to play a huge factor in the playoffs, especially for the NBA Finals.
It’s a shame too, because this all could have been avoided had the players and owners put their greed aside and made decisions based upon what would be the best for everyone. A healthy amount of games, a healthy team come playoffs, and an electrifying playoff atmosphere. Last year, the playoffs were amazing.
Follow Paul Troupe on Twitter @gamin4HIM