Two Saturdays in a row, the basketball-watching world was subjected to nationally-televised atrocities that should be disallowed under the Geneva Convention. First, the Warriors rested Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguodala against a Spurs team that was already minus Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge. Then, the Cavs opted to sit LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love against the Clippers.
The result was a pair of glorified D-League games that both resulted in blowout losses, not to mention a sub-par product for NBA fans, particularly those who paid their hard-earned money to see game’s biggest stars. It’s gotten to the point where just about everybody agrees the problem needs to be addressed, and nobody has been more vocal about it over the years than Charles Barkely, who unleashed a righteous tirade on The Rich Eisen Show on Monday:
Barkley’s rant was a rather impressive menagerie of all the grumpy-old-man topics that really grind his gears, from the ever-dreaded statistics, to spoiled millennials and their luxury travel accommodations, to the chase for the almighty dollar, to “punkass reporters,” and so much more.
But if you can get past all the insipid curmudgeony stuff, Barkley has a point. He just doesn’t have any viable solutions beyond “guys need to be tougher” or “fans should boycott games.” Doc Rivers, on the other hand, had an interesting idea following his win over the skeleton-crew Cavs this the weekend: quit scheduling prime-time games for teams on back-to-back nights.
For the league, it’s a balancing act. They have to make sure coaches maintain their agency over when to sit players while ensuring the fans are treated to a quality product. The elongated schedule for next season should help mitigate things some, since it will eliminate four games in five nights and drastically reduce the number of back-to-backs.
Still, the debate probably won’t go away anytime soon as long as coaches have final say over personnel decisions. Let’s just hope that one of the main claims on the pro-rest side comes true, i.e. that fresh legs result in better basketball during the playoffs.