For the past several years it has not been clear if the NBA fully understood the damage that the league and players were creating as a result of the load management that was becoming more and more fashionable.
Teams and players were “following the science.” Anyone who complained too loudly on behalf of the fans was dismissed as a curmudgeonly dinosaur who didn’t understand the advancements in research and data that have come along in the last decade-plus.
It appears as if, finally, a reckoning has arrived.
When commissioner Adam Silver stood behind a podium last week to discuss the league’s new fight against load management, it was a recognition of the precarious position the league finds itself in with fans and television partners about a product that has, too often in recent seasons, left the two most important outside stakeholders feeling slighted during the regular season when a star or multiple stars sat out.
NBA board of governors approves new star rest policy
“There’s a sense from all the different constituent groups in the league that this is ultimately about the fans and we’ve taken this too far,” Silver said. “This is an acknowledgment that it’s gotten away from us a bit, and that, particularly I think when you see young, healthy players who are resting and it becomes maybe even more a notion of stature around the league as opposed to absolute needed rest, or it’s part of being an NBA player that you rest on certain days.
“That’s what we’re trying to move away from.”
It was quite the populist stance for Silver to take. Fans have belabored the practice of resting healthy players for years, gnashing their teeth when they purchase tickets for a game only to find out shortly before tipoff that a high-profile player was sitting out to rest. Though the conversations have not often been public, one would assume executives for ESPN and TNT weren’t happy either when those players sat out games in which they paid billions to broadcast.
Silver has said in the past that load management was an issue for the league, But in February, at the All-Star game in Salt Lake City, he defended the practice and said there was “medical data” to support teams giving their most important players a day off here and there.
“This year we’re going to likely break the all-time record for ticket sales,” Silver said at All-Star Weekend. “We’re likely going to have the all-time record for season-ticket renewals. So our fans aren’t necessarily suggesting that they’re that upset with the product that we’re presenting.”
Seven months later, he is singing a bit of a different tune.
“Everyone is acknowledging this is an issue,” Silver said after the league’s board of governors approved a new star rest policy that is aimed at curtailing the resting of healthy stars for nationally televised games, “and it’s an issue for the fans.”
Everyone is acknowledging this is an issue right now because…
Read More: Load management has frustrated NBA, fans and TV partners, but will new rules 2023-09-19 23:20:30