LeBron James took the night off on Wednesday to rest on the second night of a back-to-back after a tough game against Toronto on Tuesday. It was the 11th game of the season and Indiana Pacers fans were robbed of a chance to see one of the greatest players ever. It sucks. Sure, the home crowd was left with nothing but a win by their team and three All-Stars to watch, but LeBron resting is emblematic of something more troubling – the wussification of America! Cot dang Millenials! Take it away Bob Kravitz of DeflateGate / sincere Fire Belichick fame. Via WTHR:
The wussification of America is complete now.
See, you probably thought there was no way someone actually said that, but he led with it. That was the first sentence. And he follows that up by going after pitch counts.
Remember the old days when Larry Bird and Magic Johnson routinely took the night off three weeks into the season so they could properly maintain their bodies and get the proper amount of beauty sleep?
No, me neither.
This is so colossally stupid.
Magic Johnson played an average of 72.5 games per season in his career, so injured or resting, there was a shot you weren’t going to see Magic Johnson when the Lakers came to town. LeBron has played an average of 75.9 games per season in his career, and that includes the 2011-2012 season when LeBron played all 62 games in the lockout-shortened season. Get rid of that season and LeBron appears in an average of 77 games a season. So right there, LeBron plays more often than Magic. Even through 12 seasons (when Magic was forced to retire because of AIDS) LeBron had played more games and minutes in the regular season. Magic played more playoff games, but LeBron played more minutes. (Check out the insane statistics of all three players at Basketball-Reference.)
Then there’s the Larry Bird comparison. Good lord. Larry Bird missed just 13 games over his first 7 seasons in the NBA. Then he played two more elite seasons and his body completely gave out. He had surgery on both Achilles and a bad back caught up to him. A month short of his 32nd birthday, Bird would never be the same.
Meanwhile, LeBron will turn 32 next month and he’s as strong as ever. And he’s already played more games and minutes than either Larry or Magic. He plays more minutes per game and he does it with a career usage rate (31.6%) that dwarfs Bird (26.5) and Johnson (22.3).
LeBron has also played 199 playoff games and 8383 playoff minutes. Bird? 164 and 6886. Magic? 190 and 7538.
It’s pretty obvious that LeBron is doing what’s best for the longevity of a career that has already surpassed these two exemplary ironmen of an era that knew nothing about how to actually care for players. And I’m not even going to mention that Kravitz brings up Cal Ripken. I’m not going to do it.
Later in the piece Kravitz shares this from Nate McMillan.
“I’ll tell you, we didn’t have that,” he said, smiling. “This is something that started the last 10 years where players and teams are talking about resting players. When I played, training camp was the full month of October, and we could do two-a-days the whole month of October. A lot of things have changed in the NBA but we never talked about rest days or taking days off. Really, the only time you heard that conversation was late in the season when you had a playoff spot wrapped up, you might rest some guys, but not this early in the season.”
McMillan, who came off the bench most of his career, played 25 minutes a night. Huh. It seems that McMillan spent his entire career on a minutes restriction. Sorry. Maybe that’s unfair. Let’s just talk games played. If we take out his final season he only missed an average of 11 games a season. Maybe a few planned days rest would have allowed him to play 77 games a season like LeBron.
As an aside, I wonder how Cal Ripken feels about the Mets managing Matt Harvey’s innings. He didn’t give up a single hit in the 2016 postseason so they obviously made the right call in that scenario. Good thing he didn’t look like a wuss.
I think we’ve digressed enough. I’ll close by again pointing out what most people know – rest is good. It stinks that he can’t play every single minute of every single game because he really is a spectacular player. The good news is, he’ll probably play on February 8th when the Cavs are back in Indiana. And if the Pacers are able to build on this win, they might get to host the Cavaliers a couple nights in the playoffs. And then LeBron can play in Indiana next season. And the season after that. And the one after that. You know, well after Magic and Larry’s careers would have been over. Won’t that be nice?
UPDATE: Kravitz isn’t the only one upset.
Why doesn’t the NBA play double-headers? Cal Ripken could do it.