LeBron James is Big Mad.
After news about Kawhi Leonard potentially suffering a torn ACL was reported on social media, it seemed the conversation about star players being hurt reached a critical mass for the game’s biggest name.
Because that’s when James brought it to another level, with a slew of tweets seemingly calling out the powers that be in the NBA.
No one wants to see anyone injured, especially not star players. Eight All-Stars will have missed games in the playoffs this season, and that number could be raised to nine if Chris Paul isn’t cleared for the start of the Western Conference Finals.
I believe LeBron is correct here: The grind of this condensed 72-game season following the shortest off-season in NBA history for some players has left guys more fragile to end the year. It’s something that LeBron was adamant about to start the season, and sounded the alarm on the toll that rushing this NBA season would have on player’s bodies.
He even reiterated his frustrations at the All-Star break when the league forced the game on its players.
“Short offseason for myself and my teammates, 71 days,” LeBron said, referring to the quick turnaround time from winning the championship in the bubble to opening this season on December 22. “And then coming into this season, we were told that we were not having an All-Star Game, so we’d have a nice little break. Five days [in March] from the 5th through the 10th, an opportunity for me to kind of recalibrate for the second half of the season. My teammates as well. Some of the guys in the league.”
“And then they throw an All-Star Game on us like this and just breaks that all the way up. So, um, pretty much kind of a slap in the face.”
While I understand the frustration that many players, including James, have on this, we have to keep everything in context. The fact of the matter is that the league and the NBA Players Association agreed to the schedule because of the money involved.
According to ESPN, the league believed that a Dec. 22 start that included televised Christmas Day games and a 72-game schedule that finished before the Summer Olympics in mid-July was worth between $500 million and $1 billion in short- and long-term revenues to the league and players.
While it’s not like this was forced on the players — they agreed to this season — measures like reviving the All-Star game and not incorporating rest periods during a condensed season was a failure on the league’s part to protect its main product.
This is a whole mess right now for the NBA. They just need to get through this season and try to regroup and get to some level of normalcy. Hopefully without a higher body count.