Load management is in the news again. I’m pretty sure we know better than NBA doctors on this one, especially regarding the LA Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard.
In case you missed it, Ric Bucher put out a piece recently about load management, bringing it *back* into the national consciousness. The main picture on the piece? Kawhi Leonard of the LA Clippers.
You know what? I think sports media has it right and team doctors have it wrong here. What’s the most important thing in the NBA? What’s the reason players play? What’s the ultimate goal of playing in the league?
That’s right, it’s convincing me, sitting at my keyboard, that they’re tough guys. What could possibly be a higher purpose? Who cares if a team doctor told him he should rest? I write about basketball, and I don’t like it. I know best.
Quick trivia question. How many titles did the Spurs, famous for giving their players “rest”, win in the Duncan era? Nobody knows because nobody cares, because they weren’t tough guys.
(If you said 5, you’re a nerd)
Another quick trivia question. How many titles did noted tough guys Allen Iverson and Russell Westbrook win? That’s right, 0. We know that because we care about them because they’re super tough, so we were paying attention.
In 1966-67, the NBA schedule changed from 80 games to 81. The next year it went up again from 81 games to 82. Most folks don’t know why that change happened, but I do.
In 1963, Michael Jeffrey Jordan, an NBA player famous for being super hardcore and not famous for anything else. At the age of 3, Michael Jeffrey Jordan got in touch with Commissioner Walter Kennedy and said (while smoking a cigar) “When I start playing in the NBA, 80 games isn’t going to be enough for me to show what a man I am. I’m gonna need you to bump that up.”
Kawhi Leonard wishes he could be that tough. For context, look at LeBron James and Anthony Davis. LeBron has played 1260 minutes so far and Davis has played 1231 minutes. Kawhi pales by comparison at 893. How can you call yourself the best player in the league if you haven’t already dealt with nagging injuries?
No, Kawhi realizes he won’t surpass LeBron in the most important metrics – toughness and machismo. So instead, he’s decided to shoot for matching him in something nobody else cares about – championship rings.