Written prior to this past weekend:
Everyone knows what the big event that is happening this weekend. It’s the mid-season NBA Players Union meeting.
I bet you thought I was going to mention the All-Star farce called a game. That isn’t quite as important. It’s a great money maker for the NBA but in the big picture it doesn’t mean anything and is usually a terrible exhibition of basketball. That is one reason I argued for Mike Conley not to go but I digress.
I know what you are thinking. What’s the big deal about the Players Union meeting anyway? It’s a fair question considering the current Collective Bargaining Agreement was signed in 2011 and will last until 2021. However, just because they have a signed agreement, it doesn’t mean things can’t be changed.
Chris Paul’s schedule is full during All-Star weekend. He arrived in New Orleans at 5:00 am after playing the Blazers Wednesday night in LA. As the new President of NBA Players Association, Paul will be expected to attend most if not all of the events this weekend and host the Players Union meeting and probably attend the late night Union bash held every year on Saturday night after the festivities. Then there is the actual game starting at 7:00 pm CST Sunday night.
Chris Paul wants it changed so he, and the other NBA stars playing over the weekend, get some rest too. “I definitely think it’s something that should happen,” Paul told NBA.com while attending a pep rally and press conference at a New Orleans grade school, where he was inducted into the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation ambassador program. “Obviously All-Star Weekend is all about the fans and showcasing our game to the entire world, but it would be nice to get a little break,” the Clippers guard said. “Not saying the all-stars are unhappy or ungrateful for being all-stars, but to enjoy your family for a couple days would be nice.”
He has already discussed with Adam Silver, the new NBA Commissioner, about lengthening the All-Star break from 5-6 days to a full week so the stars can get rest as well. Surprisingly this isn’t something that can be changed in the CBA agreement and Silver seems to open to the suggestion. “I said, ‘We’d be happy to look into it,’ ” Silver said. “The notion is that, in addition to the All-Star Game and the events itself, there would be a break built into the schedule. Maybe we could resume play on Thursday night, later in the week, to insure that the All-Stars got time off as well.”
I’m not sure this is a great idea. The season is long enough already. It begins with exhibition games in early October and extends into June for teams playing in the NBA finals. There are too many back to back games which lower the quality of play for the paying fans too. Before extending the season or compressing the season to include more back to back games the league needs to seriously address the fatigue issues already present in the league that no one can avoid.
I understand the league wanting the All-Star game to be a focal exhibition of the greatness of the NBA to the world but will it improve play for the paying fans (instead of the corporate benefactors who get the best seats at the All-Star game anyway)?
Will separating the team for a week in the middle of the season actually improve the quality of play at all? I doubt many Memphis fans would argue against a longer break this season with Marc Gasol, Mike Conley and Tony Allen all resting up from injuries but how rusty will the teams be when they return from a week off? How would Memphis fans feel if the team came back from a week off no longer playing as well because they got rusty during the break?
This time off doesn’t mean the players will be staying in bed nursing their injuries after all. A week off in the regular season means travel to visit family and friends for most players. The Grizzlies team plane felt empty according to Eric Hasseltine after the Orlando game as many players chose to remain in Orlando of fly elsewhere for the break. Extending it would likely mean more travel fatigue for most players than shortening the weekend.
If the league was honestly concerned about increasing the entertainment for the paying fans they wouldn’t make the season longer or add more back to back games. The league would be looking at ways to eliminate back to back games and shortening the season to make every game more important. That would raise the quality of the games far more than giving the stars an additional couple of days off to recover from their activities during All-Star weekend. The league could stop hosting parties that last way into the early morning hours if they seriously wanted to give the players more rest.
Extending the All-Star break to appease the Chris Paul’s and Kevin Durant’s of the league is not the answer if bringing top entertainment to the court every night for the paying fans is the goal of the league. Address the real issues of back to back games and a season that is too long already before extending the All-Star break even more.