Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards earned his first selection to the NBA All-Star Game this year, emerging as one of basketball’s emerging stars. Surrounded by some of the best players in the NBA, the 21-year-old had some criticism for his peers.
As the NBA and the NBA Players Association negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement, load management has been put under the spotlight for examination. With attendance playing an important role in annual revenue for the NAB, fans want to know if the tickets they buy will give them a chance to see some of the game’s biggest stars.
- Anthony Edwards stats (2022-’23): 24.9 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.5 APG, 1.6 SPG
However, load management now means that is no longer a certainty. A family can buy tickets days in advance expecting to see LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard or Joel Embiid. After arriving for the game, though, it’s revealed the star they showed up to see is sidelined by a minor injury.
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It’s a worsening issue that has struck a chord with fans and even some team governors. While a majority of NBA stars are in favor of load management during the regular season, Edwards is clearly not one of them.
Speaking to reporters before the NBA All-Star Game, Edwards said the biggest issue he sees with the game right now is load management and players resting too much.
“Probably just all the guys sitting – resting, that’s the only thing, probably, I don’t like. Just play, man. If you’re 80%, you gotta play. I don’t like all the sitting, missing games stuff. These people might have enough money to come to one game, and that might be the game that you’re sitting out. I take pride in trying to play every game, ‘cause I don’t know, there might be one fan that’s never seen me play, and I’m trying to play.”Anthony Edwards on the one thing he would change about the NBA (H/T Charlie Walton)
The criticisms received overwhelming support from fans on social media. For many, it reminded them of Kobe Bryant calling load management ‘crazy’ and arguing fans spending their hard-earned money to watch NBA stars play deserve to see that happen.
While Edwards sees load management as an issue for the NBA, commissioner Adam Silver told reporters that he doesn’t find it to be as big of an issue.
“The world that we used to have where it was just, ‘Get out there and play through injuries,’ for example, I don’t think that’s appropriate. Clearly, I mean, at the end of the day, these are human beings — many of you talk to and know well — who are often playing through enormous pain, who play through all kinds of aches and pains on a regular basis. The suggestion, I think, that these men, in the case in the NBA, somehow should just be out there more for its own sake, I don’t buy into.”NBA commissioner Adam Silver on the issue of load management (H/T ESPN)
There is certainly a delicate balance for the NBA. Basketball isn’t going to return to where it was before, with perennial All-Stars always playing through pain and nagging injuries just to stay on the court. Some of the best players in basketball are now playing longer with 38-year-old James a perfect example.
- Anthony Edwards contract: $10.733 million salary (2023), $13.53 million salary (2023-’24)
However, the NBA must also find ways to strengthen its relationship with the audience which generates billions of dollars in revenue for the league. Based on Silver’s comments and the importance of having healthy players for the NBA playoffs, it seems highly unlikely that any real change happens.