The NBA is receiving backlash for the recent increase of teams resting their players in the final month of the regular season.
Teams that have clinched a playoff spot will rest their star players against less competitive teams to avoid unnecessary injuries and ensure they are well-rested when they play other top teams.
Many NBA stars argue that playing 82 games and then performing in the playoffs takes a toll on their bodies, and to avoid playoffs fatigue, they will continue to rest in the regular season.
“I don’t think the NBA can do anything about it,” Cavaliers star LeBron James told CBS Sports. “At the end of the day, certain guys have to rest and certain guys need to rest. It’s a long, strenuous season.”
However, the NBA actually can do something about it. In November 2012, the NBA fined the San Antonio Spurs $250,000 for sitting its stars, stating that the Spurs did a disservice to the league and its fans.
Players didn’t change their stance. Rather, they felt the need to explain why they rest.
Players argue that their careers are shorter than the average American’s, and resting during the season will help prolong their careers and sources of income. Not all star players agree that resting is the right decision, though.
“If you don’t have at least 10 years experience, get your butt in the game,” NBA Hall of Famer Karl Malone told ESPN. “It’s not work; it’s called playing. Besides, tell our underpaid service members, police and first responders to rest. That’s right. They can’t.”
The second problem is that the fans purchase tickets, team memorabilia, concessions and products sponsored by players, and that money goes to the players’ salaries.
The third problem is a twofold financial issue. According to income statistics in 2013 from Quora, the average American made $51,000 a year and between $1.4 and $2 million in a lifetime.
Conversely, according to Business Insider, in 2013, the average NBA player made $24.7 million during his career.
This means the average NBA player will make 12 times more in his career than the average American will make in a lifetime.
“Playing is what my team, my coaches and fans depend on me to do,” Trail Blazers’ guard Damian Lillard told Sports Network. “We get months and months and months when the season is over to rest. Sitting out a game to rest has never and will never happen.”
James Harden, all-star guard for the Houston Rockets, believes players who sit out the final games of the season shouldn’t be in contention for the Most Valuable Player award.
Harden and Russell Westbrook are the only MVP contenders to not sit out a game this season.
NBA legend Kobe Bryant told reporters that coaches knew better than to ask him to sit out games before the playoffs.
Resting players will likely continue throughout the NBA after teams and coaches have shown they have no problem paying a $250,000 fine.