Was The NBA Season Too Much Too Soon After the Bubble?

“Injury rates were virtually the same this season as they were during 2019-20, while starter-level and All-Star players missed games due ...


“Injury rates were virtually the same this season as they were during 2019-20, while starter-level and All-Star players missed games due to injury at similar rates as the last three seasons,” said Mike Bass, an N.B.A. spokesman, citing the league’s internal data. “While injuries are an unfortunate reality of our game, we recognize the enormous sacrifices N.B.A. players and teams have made to play through this pandemic.”

While it’s true that one of the sport’s eternal struggles is conclusively attributing an injury to overuse, it’s equally hard to draw conclusions from internal data that isn’t made public. James’s blasts drew more attention to the All-Stars injury record, provided by Elias Sports Bureau. The record has elicited the strongest pressure yet on the league to prove that its condensed schedule, even with reduced travel, wasn’t an injury accelerant.

Kevin Durant uncorked a performance for the ages (49 points in 48 minutes) on Tuesday to haul the Nets to the brink of the Eastern Conference finals despite Irving’s absence with a sprained ankle and Harden’s limited effectiveness on a strained right hamstring. On Wednesday, Atlanta’s Trae Young starred in a remarkable Game 5 comeback against the 76ers — or, depending on your perspective, Philadelphia’s unfathomable fold. Then the Leonard-less Clippers beat top-seeded Utah in Game 5 on the strength of a critics-hushing performance from Paul George.

These are the things we should be dissecting.

Over and over, sadly, injuries have changed the conversation, leaving us to fret about how the playoffs will end. They affect every season, true, but the intrusions have seemingly been a constant since March 20, when James (high ankle sprain after Atlanta’s Solomon Hill collided with him) and Charlotte’s LaMelo Ball (fractured wrist after crashing to the floor) were hurt on the same day. Ball’s injury threatened his surging campaign for the Rookie of the Year Award, but after missing 21 games, he returned for the final 10 and received the honor on Wednesday.

Elias circulated last week that this season’s 27 All-Stars combined to miss a higher rate of games (13.7 games per player and 19 percent overall) than in any previous season. Michele Roberts, the executive director of the players’ union, declined to comment on Wednesday when asked if James had raised his concerns about such developments in consultation with union officials before the season.

“I speak for the health of all our players and I hate to see this many injuries this time of the year,” James said as part of his rim-shaking social media post.

On this occasion, and this topic, they were comments heard — and felt — by an entire league.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Was The NBA Season Too Much Too Soon After the Bubble?
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