LeBron James, presumably speaking for more players than just himself, asked for a longer All-Star break and fewer back-to-backs.
The NBA delivered – extending the All-Star break last season and scheduling fewer back-to-backs this year. The league even went a step further, reducing the amount of four-in-fives.
But has the NBA gone far enough?
The National Basketball Players Association wants to find out.
Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press:
Coming off a season in which star after star was lost to serious injury, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and NBA Players’ Association executive director Michele Roberts have made player health one of the top priorities to address this offseason.
With that in mind, the union hired Joe Rogowski, a former athletic trainer and strength and conditioning coach with the Orlando Magic and the Houston Rockets, as the director of sports medicine and research. The certified athletic trainer with a master’s degree in exercise physiology from Central Florid is tasked with developing programs and coordinating best practices to try to limit the number of games lost to injury.
AP: How much will the new schedule and fewer back-to-backs and four-in-five nights help?
Rogowski: As far as if it will make a big impact, I’m in a wait-and-see mode. I definitely think it’s a step in the right direction. I definitely am in favor of it. But we’ll see. Time will tell. Do we still need to keep going in that direction? Yes. Are there other avenues we need to address and look into? Absolutely. Having gone through it myself, I would definitely like that. And I know the players are in favor of it.
The NBA has made a good-faith effort to reduce wear and tear on its players, and the league should be applauded for that. Of course, it’s also self-serving. Fans want to see their favorite players at their best. The fewer injuries and players slumping while fatigued, the better the product on the floor. The better the product, the more the league can charge fans to see it.
Fundamentally, player health is a players’ issue. It makes sense for them to hire a trained professional to better understand the nuances.
Rogowski can research the regular-season schedule, practices and training. He can examine everything teams asks players to do, how each affects players.
And when it comes to negotiating the next Collective Bargaining Agreement or amending the current one, the union can push for rules that keep players healthy and base those arguments on research rather than suppositions.
The league has done a good job addressing player health. Rogowski will help the NBPA ensure that continues in the best manner possible.