The Los Angeles Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks were featured on national TV Wednesday night, except this matchup was not quite as advertised.
The Clippers’ newest addition, two-time NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, sat out for the second time in eight days due to “load management.”
The NBA can fine teams up to $100,000 for resting players on nationally televised games, but the league said it was OK with the Clippers’ decision to do this because they did not list his reason for not playing as “rest,” but rather “load management” for Leonard’s knee, which falls under an injury.
While it seems like a sound strategy that the Clippers are using in order to keep their best player healthy for a championship run, it has many fans and analysts frustrated.
ESPN analyst and former NBA player Jalen Rose is among those frustrated, and on Wednesday he sounded off on his show, “Jalen and Jacoby,” telling his co-host that fans and media are to blame for this.
“What ends up happening is fans and media should take the blame for this,” he said. “Here’s why: You guys have shown players you don’t care about the journey, the 82-game season. You care about the destination. You dumb it down so very much that the regular season becomes irrelevant to you on how you analyze players and you only talk about how many championships you won.
Players today are more skilled than ever, more smarter than ever and have more access to information than ever.”
Last season, Leonard did not play in 22 games with the Toronto Raptors in their effort to keep him healthy after he played in just nine games during the 2017-18 season due to a quad injury.
The strategy paid off as Leonard led the Raptors to the franchise’s first NBA championship.
While Leonard did not play, fans who tuned into Wednesday’s game were still given a treat. Bucks center Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 38 points, 16 rebounds, nine assists and became the first player in NBA history with 200 points, 100 rebounds and 50 assists in his first eight games of a season.
But the Greek Freak’s performance still came with the footnote that Leonard was absent from the game, and load management still figures to be a dominant topic in the 2019-20 NBA season.