Load management, the two words guaranteed to spark heated debate among NBA fans.
It’s been a talking point for the last two seasons, with the controversial term coined by Toronto Raptors medical staff, who used it when superstar forward Kawhi Leonard would sit out games to manage his injured right quad.
Leonard has continued the load management trend since joining the LA Clippers, prompting debate among fans as to whether the league itself should step in to ensure fans weren’t being ripped off by purchasing tickets, only for their favourite players to be sidelined.
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LeBron James weighed in on the controversial topic earlier this week, declaring that with his career in its later stages, he would do all he could to play when he was fully healthy.
Despite having a reputation for resting earlier in his career, James’ stance sits at odds with with the way the Clippers have managed Leonard and star running mate Paul George - something Clippers coach Doc Rivers is all too aware of.
The veteran head coach couldn’t help but take a subtle shot at James when he was asked about the two Los Angeles teams’ differing load management strategies.
“It's our philosophy. I don't know what theirs are,” Rivers told reporters.
“I think theirs is whatever LeBron says it is."
Many interpreted the comments as a none too subtle shot at James’ tendency to have significant say in his teams’ front office operations.
Doc Rivers brought some heat when asked about LeBron's take on load management:— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) December 18, 2019
"It's our philosophy. I don't know what theirs are. I think theirs is whatever LeBron says it is."
LeBron James praised for load management stance
You might imagine that someone like James, a 17-year NBA veteran who is about to turn 35 and is coming off the first injury-plagued season of his career, might be in favour of load management.
It could help him avoid injuries and stay in the NBA longer, which at his age is likely a goal.
“Why wouldn’t I play if I’m healthy? It doesn’t make any sense to me, personally. I mean, I don’t know how many games I’ve left in my career,” he said.
“I don’t know how many kids that may show up to a game that are there to see me play.”
James isn’t having it. He got into the NBA to play, and that’s what he’s going to do until he can’t (or doesn’t want to) anymore.