Over the last few seasons, load management has remained a very hot topic amongst NBA pundits and fans. The latest voice to come out in opposition of load management is former NBA star and current analyst Charles Barkley.
Charles Barkley weighs in on load management in the NBA:
"You can't make $30, $40, $50 million and then sit out games. I think it's disrespectful to the game, I think it's disrespectful to the fans." pic.twitter.com/WLFTnhRCV7
— First Take (@FirstTake) February 27, 2023
“In this next TV negotiate deal, we gonna have guys making $70, $80 million a year,” he said. “And they gonna be saying, ‘Wait a minute, you gonna make $70 million, and you can’t play basketball three or four days a week?’ … They fly private. They got the best medical stuff ever created. … People working in the steel mill every day, I’m pretty sure they tired too, but they go to work every day.”
The fact of the matter is that the conversation around load management will likely continue as long as players keep engaging in it. It doesn’t figure to end anytime soon. After all, the primary goal of load management seems to be to allow star players to rest their bodies in preparation for the playoffs.
Still, there is no doubt that load management as it currently exists is a really imperfect concept. For fans, it can be really hard to accept that a player will sit out a game when there is no clear injury or circumstance to blame.
It’s frustrating enough to tune into a game at home to find out that a star player is sitting out. It is, of course, even more frustrating for fans that are in attendance.
It will be interesting to see if the league makes any sweeping rules about load management in the coming years, but it seems clear that star players will always have a certain say in how much they play.
After all, the NBA — just like many other professional sports leagues — is a star-driven affair. For that reason, stars are always going to have a say in how they want to carry out their careers.
So, while Barkley and other analysts may have an issue with load management as it currently exists, it doesn’t seem as though the practice is going to go anywhere in the near future. It will be an important topic to monitor as the NBA continues to evolve.