Imagine calling out of work at the last minute; not sick or on vacation, but simply needing to “rest” inexplicably. How well would your superiors or upper management take that? Even worse: imagine your superiors at work asking you to take a day off to “rest” inexplicably. How well would the clients who rely heavily on the impact of your work, and pay thousands of dollars to create your salary, feel about such a move? This is unfortunately a feeling that many NBA fans can relate to in modern times. There is nothing more disappointing than a kid who has spent four months looking forward to a Cavs v. Wizards game, to which he was given tickets as a birthday present, only to find out on Game Day that while LeBron James is healthy and in the arena, he will not be playing. What a bummer?
With this ongoing, and ever so prevalent “rest epidemic,” the NBA is slowly jeopardizing its brand. While in my biased opinion the NBA is the greatest sports league in the world, I am in complete disagreement with what seems to be a trend that was started by the San Antonio Spurs organization and Greg Popovich. I am all for protecting the players and taking steps to prolong their careers; however, sitting out regular season games for no apparent reason does not appear to be a necessary step in furtherance of this objective. Michael Jordon, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley, etc., did not sit out games inexplicably, during what appears to have been a more physically daunting era of basketball; so, why is it acceptable now?
It shouldn’t be. It is not fair to the NBA fan, simple. An NBA fan shouldn’t be hesitant to buy tickets due to the fear of a favorite athlete unexpectedly sitting out a game. TV audiences shouldn’t have to tune in to a marquee match up game just to see their favorite players on the bench drinking coffee and laughing it up. This is a surefire way to lose fans, and to have ticket sales decline. I shouldn’t have to tune in to an an ABC Saturday night matchup between the Cavs and Clippers, just to see that LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love, while healthy, are all sitting out to “rest.” The even more disappointing part is that they will all suit up the following day to play the even more inferior Laker team. How disappointing for us NBA fans?
If NBA fans begin to lose interest and revenues go down from reduced ticket sales and loss of endorsement deals, these extremely pampered NBA players will no longer enjoy the luxury of the ridiculous contracts they have been signing lately. If I do not have the liberty of calling out of work randomly at my five figure salaried job, neither should these eight figure salaried athletes. For crying out loud, you are getting paid to play basketball; something that many of us would love to do for free! So, Adam Silver, please save the image and brand of the NBA and put an end to this “epidemic.” NBA players, do your job; play basketball.