Opinion: Load management

2019 NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard has recently come under fire for being under load management, which essentially means taking games off to prevent an injury or the further development of a lingering one. This says a lot about who Leonard is as a player. A lot of people see this as him being either scared or not for the team by not giving his all. Lebron James has come out and given his 2 cents regarding the NBA’s widespread issue. 

“If I’m hurt, I don’t play,” James said Friday night after the Lakers’ 95-80 win against the Miami Heat at the Staples Center.  If not, I’m playing,” 

So by approaching load management from this perspective, it’s easy to critique Leonard as a softie of sorts, but a lot of people don’t know how long this guy has been battling an injury. He plays an average of 60 games a season and took 22 off last year during his championship run with the Raptors. 

But an important perspective that people should see this from is a championship mentality. I guarantee that during the time in which Leonard was trying to find a new team, the Lakers were probably offering him more than most teams in terms of money. The reason why he is on the Clippers right now is because he knew that they’d be okay with him going through load management, especially if they were to get Paul George. 

Kawhi Leonard has blown up into this super weird meme status differently than any other professional sports celebrity in recent memory. Every video of him online is him doing something unintentionally funny because he’s just kind of an awkward guy. The Lakers would’ve put the spotlight on Leonard, Lebron and Anthony Davis, and he would’ve been pressured to be that meme guy all the time and be forced to play more games than he wants. 

He’s not about being a half movie star, half NBA star like James is. Leonard is just about playing ball, and he wants to do it his way. The Clippers have allowed him to do that, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It kind of amazes me the amount of hate that Leonard has gotten just for taking some games off right after he did the same thing the year he won finals MVP. 

I always hear people say that “If an NFL player took a game off there’s no way that would fly, but they’re different leagues. You can’t compare the two. There are 16 games in an NFL schedule. You play once a week. And in certain circumstances you’ll play twice a week, and then all teams are given a bye week. There are 82 games in an NBA season, and teams play at least three times a week, traveling almost all the time. It’s just not the same. Football is also a game about repeated six-second bursts. You have to keep playing when it comes to basketball. So really, the only group of people that have any sort of right to be upset about load management is the fans that pay for tickets for a chance to see Kawhi Leonard – a chance. The Los Angeles Times echoes this well in their column. 

“The one group that has reason to be upset is Clippers or Leonard fans outside of L.A. who travel to L.A. or another city to see a game,” the newspaper said. “That might be their only chance to see Leonard play in person. But anyone who buys a ticket to see Leonard should know that he has never played more than 74 games in a season and has played an average of about 60 games per season.”

Ultimately, load management is important, including for college athletes here at Jewell and across the globe.

“For student-athletes, weeks during the season in which they will be facing competitive demands, such as exams, due dates for papers and projects, or extensive travel by car, bus or plane, would be the perfect opportunity to scale back one or more of the aforementioned parameters. Load management might be a term that’s taken on some negative connotations, but the truth is it’s hugely important for any athlete looking to consistently compete at a high level and stay injury-free,” according to one source.

Trent Brink

Trent Brink is the page editor for Sports on The Hilltop Monitor. He is a sophomore majoring in business administration.

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