Just over a week ago, the Milwaukee Bucks faced the Los Angeles Clippers in front of the big Hollywood lights. The matchup was billed for a faceoff between two MVP candidates, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard, who battled each other in a six game series in the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals.
However, a key piece to the puzzle was missing, as Leonard did not play. According to team doctors, he was “nursing a knee injury." The game, which happened to be the last of a back-to-back stretch for the Clippers, is the second time this season Leonard has not played the last half of a back-to-back.
In recent years, teams in the NBA have come under fire for not playing their star players in some games, in order to help with “load management.” Essentially, teams follow through with this strategy in order to keep players fresh after an 82 game season for a whole new season in the NBA Playoffs, which happen mid-April.
The NBA season is an absolute grind, so it is understandable that players would miss some games due to injury. But why do they choose to sit out during some of the most anticipated regular season matchups fans look forward to watching?
“I think it's an effective strategy. If you look at the data, players are lasting longer,” said RWU senior Bryan Donovan, an avid NBA fan.
“The biggest critics of it are Michael Jordan and Larry Bird, and they had shorter careers than players are having today.”