What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
If you’ve tuned in to watch any National Basketball Association (NBA) games so far this season, you’ve probably heard the new and rather controversial term “load management” thrown around quite a bit. To put it politely, load management refers to teams resting their star players over an 82-game season so they are ready, healthy and rested for the games in the far more important post-season.
What’s the big deal, you ask? Everyone deserves a day off every now and again, you suggest?
The big deal is that the NBA is a star-driven league. When a super star like Kawhi Leonard, a player with whom this term has become most associated, decides to sit out a nationally televised game or worse yet, a game in an arena where fans who pay good money might only get to see him once a year, that’s when people start to cry foul. When it comes to debating matters like these, I turn to my internet partner in crime, J-Dub, founder of Dubsism who, when I’m called a grumpy old man always reminds me that there are people out there far grumpier than I.
Upon suggesting that he and I tackle the issue of load management, I wondered where two old school fellows such as ourselves would fall. Personally, I’m a fan of work. In fact, I’m not sure I can recall the last time I called in sick. It was probably back in the day when they had rotary phones that still connected to a jack in the wall and I sure as heckfire don’t make what Kawhi Leonard makes in a year.
Without totally sounding like one of those back in the day we used to haul giant blocks of ice up three flights of stairs, play 82 games with our limbs barely attached and get off my lawn old farts, I thought I’d throw it to Dubsy first to see where he stands (or reclines) on the issue of load management.
Sir, your thoughts?
That should read more like “pant-load management,” because it’s all a bunch of shit. “Load management” is all about a balancing act between the length of the season, the health of of the “stars,” and the almighty dollar.
Chump is dead-on when he says this is a star-driven league. It’s been that way since the days of Kareem, Magic, and Larry Legend, right through Jordan to today with Curry, Kawhi, and LeBron. The problem is that the “stars” drive teams which go deep in the play-offs, which means they play a shit-load more basketball than the average bear. That’s exactly why Commissioner Adam “Nosferatu” Silver has been tacitly talking about the length of the NBA season for some time now, and frankly…it’s about time. Even if he did it in the most couched way possible, the fact is the NBA season is simply too fucking long.
The reason why this league has an 82-game schedule can easily be boiled down to one word: money. What is a bit more complex is why this league needs to generate that much cash. However, before we get into that, what’s not helping the quality of the product on the floor is the fact the game’s biggest stars routinely sit out games during the regular season to keep themselves fresh for the post-season, where the real television money gets made. In other words, “load management” is simply an admission of what is and what is not important to the product on the floor.
Again, keeping in mind the NBA is the definition of a “star-driven” league, and remembering the hand-wringing over the flat TV ratings for the last year’s play-offs and the idea of it being because of the “No LeBron” factor, it becomes easy to see where the “give’ is going to happen…it’s easier to take a hit in the regular season by letting the stars “phone it in” than to risk shrinking the big pie which is the post-season television money.
That begs the question that if we are already in a place to grasp the idea the regular season is too long, why not just shorten it? Because the turd floating in Commissioner Nosferatu’s punch bowl is that any changes must involve a collectively bargained approval from the players’ union AND the blessing of the owners. The players aren’t going to care as long as they still get paid, but the owners are another story.
The dirty little secret about the NBA owners is this is a group where far too many are essentially economically insolvent without the profit-generating minority. Out of the 30 teams in the NBA, there are 15 which have shown a net loss in at least two of the last three seasons.
Following that, there are still 9 teams which showed a loss after revenue sharing, two of which went into the red after making their revenue sharing payments.
* – showed a net loss after revenue sharing
You can crunch the numbers any way you like or you can even source your own numbers to crunch. The bottom line is a big chunk of this league doesn’t make money. Not only is that not sustainable long-term, it also means there won’t be a change to the schedule before it can be determined there won’t be a concomitant change in revenue.
Hence the compromise/pant-load now known as “load management.”
Therein lies the rub, Dub.
The average fan could give a flying leap about whether their NBA team is turning a profit. They want to be entertained.
When I go to my favorite Italian restaurant, I walk through the door and savor the smell of sautéed garlic and olive oil seeping deliciously from the back. As a customer, I’m doing my part to support that business. I don’t care whether the restaurant is making money. That’s their concern. I just want to know how tender my veal piccata is going to be… and they better have veal on that damn menu.
When fans drop $250 on a ticket to an NBA game, they want their veal. They want to read a stat sheet, not a profit/loss ledger.
As you know, I live in Tampa, making the closest NBA team to me the Orlando Magic. That’s a hearty 90-minute haul through Disney traffic just to get from my door to Amway. If a star player for a certain team is a late scratch because he’s been playing too much, well, let’s just say that’s something I’d like to know before I take out my road rage on the good, taxpaying tourists of the Sunshine State.
If the Milwaukee Bucks, who boast the league’s most exciting player, can’t turn a profit, then perhaps its time for the good people of Wisconsin to check on ownership’s load management and report them to the Better Business Bureau. Last year’s MVP is drawing comparisons to Michael Jordan and people don’t want to pay money to see that night in and night out?!?
While shortening the NBA season might make sense on the books, like you, I don’t see that happening any time soon. That might increase demand (theoretically) but they’d be killing a steady revenue stream. Even if it did happen, what’s to say that out of a 60-game schedule, Kawhi Leonard wouldn’t only play 44?
The league has lengthened the season in calendar days, allowing for fewer of the dreaded back-to-backs yet we’re still getting guys who play when they feel like it.
So, what’s the league to do? They can’t suspend players. That’d only keep them off the court longer than they’re already off it. The league just fined Doc Rivers and the Clippers $50,000 for providing “inconsistent” information about Kawhi’s playing time #LoadManagementGate. A few more of those might do the trick… or they might not. That doesn’t resolve the fact that fans pay good money for a product they won’t be getting. You can’t expect us to pay star power prices and not provide the stars.
Toronto winning a title with Kawhi only playing sixty games proved that load management works, at least in that sample size of one. Mark Cuban recently called load management “the best thing that ever happened to the league.” As one of the league’s more progressive owners, his is an opinion I usually respect yet I still can’t help but fall back on the whole you-have-a-job-to-do-go-do-it argument.
Players are getting paid to play, yes? So, play!
I have to admit, once I saw Cuban’s opinion on this, I knew I was right…”load management” is a bunch of shit. Cuban loves it because he’s a typical billionaire worrying about his multi-million dollar investment in players. Let’s face it, a big part of the future of the Dallas Mavericks hinges on Kristaps Porzingis and his surgically-rebuilt knee.
I also have to admit that Chump’s “you-have-a-job-to-do-go-do-it” take just makes sense. The relationship between the fans and the league will become a problem if they keep promising veal piccata and keep delivering Spaghettios.
But for the Spam-brains like Mark Cuban and commissioner Adam “Nosferatu” Silver, it should be painfully obvious by now nobody buys this pant-load. When two grumpy old men like the Chump and I agree on something, it should scream that in big, bold letters. After all, SportsChump is a modern, progressive thinker, and I’m slightly to the right of Genghis Khan. By definition, we aren’t supposed to agree. Why do you think we do a series called “Point-Counterpoint?”
Boil it all down to to that amazing veal piccata reduced-wine and chicken stock sauce, and you get this. I think “load management” is all about trying to cover a regular season which is too long in a league where the stars are spread thin and is full of markets that can’t support or may not care about professional basketball. SportsChump is of the belief it screws the ticket-buying fans. But just like that white wine and chicken stock combination come together to make something which dazzles the tongue, for one mystical moment in time Chunp’s opinion and mine merge to discover the truth.
Commissioner Nosferatu and Mark Cuban can spice the Spaghettios all they want, they can’t make it veal piccata. No matter what business you are in, you have to deliver on your promises. You can’t expect to keep a fan base by baiting them with LeBron and delivering LeNinth Guy off the Bench.
In that spirit, here’s my favorite recipe for veal piccata.
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