Manu Pain

Is The 2011 NBA Season A Money Grab?

The NBA is where injuries happen.  While still early to measure the playoff implications, or more importantly any long-term impacts on a particular player’s health, the NBA lockout, the shortened preseason, and the tight packed schedule are having an immediate impact on the health of the league’s players and the quality of its games.

Players like Eddy Curry or Jerome James are easy fodder for fans and NBA analysts, but as the recent retirement of Brandon Roy reminds us, many NBA players risk their careers in attempting to get back on the court as soon as possible so their team can make a playoff run. Speaking on the long-term impact that Roy’s ill-fated return from during the 2010 playoffs had on his career, New York Times’ Rob Mahoney makes this salient point:

Few figures in the basketball narrative are treasured as highly as the Willis Reed archetype, and Roy has taken to the role of hobbling star time and time again.

The image of Reed hobbling onto the court during the 1970 playoffs is stuff of legend.  As is the sight of a flu-ridden Michael Jordan willing his team to victory during the 1997 NBA finals.  Both of these moments made Sports Illustrated’s top-10 Playing With Pain Moments, and Reed’s valiant return was chosen as the greatest all-time.

Until the 2011-12 season finds its heroic or Reed or Jordan moment, this money grab masking as an NBA season is only spurring higher health care costs and declining fan interest.

Take TNT’s Thursday night game that pit the Heat against the Hawks.  The game ultimately ended after 3 OT periods, although the game was anything but thrilling.  With LeBron James and Dwayne Wade sitting out, the most compelling match-up was Chris Bosh v. Ivan Johnson.  The NBA isn’t where amazing happens, since much of amazing is sitting on the bench wearing street clothes.

The impact of injuries is evident as one scans ESPN’s rumor tab, which is a long list of injuries.  No more reports on potential trades or trends in the league – just a medical report.  Of course, you don’t have to bother with “rumor tab” when you can just go to CBS Sports Basketball injuries.  I did just that, looking at the page on the evening of January 5, 2012.  The number of players out for a single game, doubtful, questionable and probable is pretty astounding.  Each of the following players are out for their team’s next game:

  • Ray Allen,
  • LeBron James,
  • Dwayne Wade,
  • Tyrus Thomas,
  • Correy Maggette,
  • Jason Kidd,
  • Nene,
  • Rodney Stuckey,
  • Andris Biedrins,
  • Stephen Curry,
  • Jeff Foster,
  • Jeff Pendergraph,
  • Lance Stephenson,
  • Reggie Evans,
  • Mike Dunleavy,
  • Josh McRoberts,
  • Luc Richard Mbah a Moute,
  • JJ Berea,
  • Kris Humphries,
  • Deron Williams,
  • Mike Bibby,
  • Iman Shumpert,
  • Trevor Ariza,
  • Thabo Sefolosha,
  • Devin Haris,
  • Jerryd Bayless,
  • Aaron Gray, and
  • Josh Howard

There are others who are either out longer, or who are probable despite injuries.  It is clear that the NBA is where injuries happen.  Add to this list, Manu Ginoboli and Zach Randolph each have sustained serious injuries, further illustrating that the NBA is where injuries happen over and over again.   The issue of injuries and physical limitations means that for far too many players the lockout continues.


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