Adam Silver on Issue of Resting Players

Justin Herrin, Managing Editor, Sports

The NBA season is 82 games long with some lengthy road trips and the occasional and dreaded “back-to-back’s.” Given the amount of stress this kind of season has put on the players, coaches have started resting their players more than ever. To put it in perspective, the NBA season is approximately 75% over and the number of games with rested players is already double what it was last year. Last year, about 180 games featured players sitting for rest. The fact that it has already doubled this year shows that coaches show no signs of slowing this practice down.

With more and more NBA teams leaning towards this practice, Adam Silver, commissioner of the NBA, recently sent a memo to team owners regarding the situation. In the memo, Silver stated this issue would be a major topic in the next NBA Board of Governors meeting April 6. He also explicitly stated significant penalties would be issued to teams and players that do not adhere to upcoming policies. He hinted at part of the new policy by saying the league will require, “notice to the league office, their opponent, and the media immediately upon a determination that a player will not participate in a game due to rest.”

Because this is becoming so common amongst NBA teams, there is increasing concern amongst the league about its fans and television partners. Fans are getting rather angry because they are spending their hard earned-money to see their favorite star players who end up not playing. While the argument can be made that fans are purchasing a ticket to see the team, we have to understand they are going to see a certain player(s) more. Let’s use the Cavaliers for example. Recently, they sat LeBron James and Kyrie Irving for rest in Los Angeles when they were facing the Clippers. A Cleveland fan who happens to live in LA might have bought tickets to that game only to find out LeBron and Kyrie were sitting out. That fan is going to be quite upset and much less interested in going to the game because of this.

Additionally, television partners of the NBA spend a lot of money to broadcast NBA games. Using a different example, the Spurs and Warriors recently played in a nationally televised game. For this game in San Antonio, the Spurs sat Kawahi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge for rest while the Warriors rested Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant, who was already out due to injury. So, any fan that turns on this game will soon realize that anybody worth watching is being rested and turn it off, making the network’s ratings go down.

From a fan perspective, of course I want to see the best possible product on the court. However, we have to think about the toll this kind of season takes on the players’ bodies and understand that they need rest here and there. It is in issue that needs to be addressed, but I am not sure how I feel about the “significant penalties” comment from Silver.