Detroit Pistons: Does the NBA have a regular season problem?

Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry (left, center) gestures on the benchCredit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry (left, center) gestures on the benchCredit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports /

Isiah Thomas of the Detroit Pistons played at least 80 games seven times in his career and only played fewer than 70 twice in 13 seasons.

He’d be an Iron Man by modern standards, as few players are playing 80+ games these days, mostly because of the dreaded “load management” which some feel has become a big problem in the NBA’s regular season.

It hasn’t affected TV ratings, which are on the rise, and the NBA is one of the most popular American leagues worldwide and on social media. But fans who attend the games have to wonder which stars they are actually going to see when they buy their tickets, which has repeatedly come up over the last few seasons when teams decide to sit their regulars for scheduled rest.

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The idea of this would have been appalling to guys like Michael Jordan and Isiah Thomas, who took pride in going out there every night, but you could also argue that their careers might have been longer had they taken a few games off when they needed it.

The stats and medical staffs would agree with this take, but is it fair to fans who pay premium money to see stars and are often disappointed? That depends on who you ask.

The Detroit Pistons, Adam Silver and Anthony Edwards

This issue hasn’t affected the Detroit Pistons this season, as their guys have missed time with legitimate injuries, but it could in the future, as we will likely see players like Cade Cunningham on limitations as he returns from a shin injury.

Commissioner Adam Sliver recently offered his take on “load management” which he does not feel is a problem that is hampering the modern NBA.

"“Sometimes, to me, the premise of a question as to whether players are playing enough suggests that they should be playing more — that, in essence, there should be some notion of just get out there and play. Having been in the league for a long time, having spent time with a lot of some of our great legends, I don’t necessarily think that’s the case.”"

He added:

"“Even given where we are now, I don’t think the issue is quite what some suggest,” Silver said. “I mean, our stars are not missing that many games for resting. I mean, we have injuries. I think we would all agree that’s a separate issue. But sort of as a measure of single games missed, it’s not that bad.”"

Silver made some compelling defenses of his players, but he’s not the one shelling out huge money for tickets only to have to watch the Warriors’ second team. Most fans understand the concept of injuries and rest, but take umbrage when teams sit all of their stars on the same night.

The NBA is a star-driven league and there are plenty of fans who will show up just to see guys like Stephen Curry or Kyrie Irving only to find out they are taking a night off for “load management.”

One player who has taken the side of the fans is Anthony Edwards, who said that these scheduled nights off are one of the biggest problems in the league.

The NBA is rising in popularity and more fans are tuning in via TV or streaming than ever before, but eventually fans are going to think twice about buying tickets to live games when they won’t know who exactly is going to play.

This is especially true for teams like the Detroit Pistons, who many fans come to see specifically to see the stars on the other teams, many of whom have chosen to take the night off against what they view as lesser competition.

Adam Silver doesn’t see a problem, and the argument of player health and extended careers is a compelling one, but it’s a hard sell to fans who may only go to one game a year and had to watch their favorite player in street clothes.

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