For weeks now, as his players have blown out knees like NASCAR cars blow out engines, David Stern, make that Dr. David Stern, has been telling us this has nothing to do with his fiendishly concocted lockout-compacted schedule.
Granted, the players signed off on that very schedule, so it’s not as it there isn’t dual complicity.
But Monday, on Jim Rome’s television show, Stern offered another juicy morsel, one that that may cut to the crux of the issue.
First, to provide context, when asked about a possible relationship between the injuries and the compress schedule, Stern said:
“I think there’s some part of it that may be related to that. Some part of it is luck. Some part of it is lack of preparedness by our players before the season began. It’s a combination of things.”
Now we break out the telestrator to the circle the juicy bit:
“Some part of it is lack of preparedness by our players before the season began.”
Hmm, so the players who were given a mere two-week training camp were not in the same shape as when previously given a month to prepare?
But, again, the players are equally complicit there, having agreed to such a timetable.
The lesson, however, is what happened before those camps opened, namely NBA facilities being off limits to players during the lockout.
Yes, there were insurances issues of locked-out players working out in unlocked team gyms. That’s what waivers are for.
But no non-NBA facility comes with NBA-level trainers, NBA-quality physicians.
Based on the single sentence from Stern, the NBA willing facilitated its perishable commodities to rot.
Which is why the next work stoppage shouldn’t be a “lockout,” can’t be something that separates finely tuned athletes from the means that keep them that way.
Or did the NBA think there never was going to be a resumption of play?
Stern’s comment — again, “Some part of it is lack of preparedness by our players before the season began” — comes off as a condemnation of players not valuing their careers enough to keep in NBA shape.
But NBA shape requires NBA facilities. A league that pampers its players with state-of-the-art training resources should have appreciated as much.
The hindsight is a postseason becoming a battlefield of attrition.