LeBron James was very clear before the season started, he thought there should be a longer break after the bubble. LeBron vented again as the injuries piled up during the postseason (and his team was eliminated).
They all didn’t wanna listen to me about the start of the season. I knew exactly what would happen. I only wanted to protect the well being of the players which ultimately is the PRODUCT & BENEFIT of OUR GAME! These injuries isn’t just “PART OF THE GAME”. It’s the lack of PURE
— LeBron James (@KingJames) June 16, 2021
Chris Paul heard LeBron, but when asked about the condensed 72-game schedule this year, he said a lot of players had their voices heard.
“Man, one thing about our league and its players is everything is always a conversation,” Paul said during his media session the day before Game 1 of the NBA Finals. “There’s a ton of guys on the executive committee who are working hard on things right now as we speak — day in and day out, traveling. I wish you guys knew all the things that are going on. So decisions that are made as far as playing or not playing, players are always involved in it.
“Injuries are always unfortunate. You hate to have them. But just like when we went to the bubble, everything was discussed as far as the players and the full body of players. Everything that’s good for this guy and that guy might not be the same for that guy, but everything has always been a conversation and it’s going to continue to be that way. So if people don’t like it, then you know everybody has the same opportunity to be a part of all these conversations.”
We all know how this happened, including LeBron: The players and league were talking about a February start, then the league’s television partners chimed in and said they needed games on Christmas, and money talks. Soon there were plans for games on Christmas, because everyone wants to keep the checks rolling in.
There was a spike in soft-tissue injuries this season, but also many of the injuries we saw this postseason — Trae Young‘s bone bruise in his foot, Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s knee — may well have happened anyway. We will never really know.
The league and the players will get back to a more normal October to June schedule next season, with more time for recovery and conditioning during the season, and that should help reduce the number of injuries. Hopefully.