NBA players sitting out games to rest has become a major issue.
It’s hurt TV broadcasts and angered fans.
Now the league is scrambling to fix this major problem.
The issue of players sitting out the second half of road back-to-backs came to a head when multiple starters on the Golden State Warriors sat out a nationally televised game against the San Antonio Spurs.
The Spurs and Warriors were slated to play a prime time matchup on ABC and fans were looking forward to a contest between the two top teams in the western conference.
The Cavaliers also rested Lebron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love in a game against the Clippers, even though they played the previous night against the Lakers in the same building.
That game was also a Saturday night primetime game on ABC.
Now the most prominent NBA commentator – and the league’s commissioner – are joining fans to express their outrage.
TNT’s Charles Barkley called for a fan boycott to protest players sitting out games.
CBS Cleveland reports on his comments on the Rich Eisen show:
“I’ve been in the NBA for over 30 years and all of the sudden now with better shoes, private jets, all this stuff they got, now all of the sudden they worried about getting hurt,” Barkley told Eisen. “I think it’s a joke, especially when you’re screwing your TV partners. Just for the record, we’re the reason they make $10, 20, 30 million – TV. No disrespect to the fans, but the reason players make $10, 20, 30 million is because of the TV partners – ESPN and us at Turner – and all of the sudden I don’t know where this thing comes from that they got to rest and you have all these idiots that say, ‘Well we have stats that show if you play back-to-back’ and I’m like, ‘Yo man, Bill Russell played in Converse. He had a long career. Tim Duncan, the greatest power forward ever, played 20 years basically and he went to college for 4 years. You look at Michael [Jordan] he went to college for 3 years, he never got hurt.’
Barkley wasn’t done.
“Man, these guys, they just care about money nowdays,” Barkley continued. “What I think needs to happen, I think the fans need to boycott games and boycott television to send these guys a message, because people always understand money. And I’m really sick of all these punk-ass reporters – and that’s all they are – they kiss up to this young generation, ‘Well these guys need rest.’ First of all, we’ve always needed rest but when you’re making millions of dollars to dribble a basketball, and listen, I’m so old I flew coach and played back-to-back games. These guys are flying private getting a great night’s sleeps, getting a great meal and they’re making $20, 30 million and they can’t play a couple basketball games?
“This is ridiculous, man. Listen, I hope at some point the fans get together and say, ‘You know what we’re gonna do? We’re not gonna go to any games for a week and we’re not gonna watch any games on television for a week. I think if the fans hit back, it’d be great.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver responded by issuing a memo to all 30 teams warning them of penalties for sitting out players without proper notice.
The Washington Post reports:
“The NBA’s league office has noticed.
In a memo sent to all 30 NBA teams Monday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said that resting players has “become an extremely significant issue for our league,” and said there will be a “full discussion” of the practice at the April 6 Board of Governors meeting in New York…
… “Decisions of this kind do not merely implicate issues of player health and team performance on the court,” Silver said in the memo. “They also can affect fans and business partners, impact our reputation, and damage the perception of our game. With so much at stake, it is simply not acceptable for Governors to be uninvolved or to defer decision-making authority on these matters to others in their organizations…
… “Please also be reminded that, under current league rules, teams are required to provide notice to the league office, their opponent, and the media immediately upon a determination that a player will not participate in a game due to rest,” the memo said. “Failure to abide by these rules will result in significant penalties.”