General managers and team health and performance staff around the NBA are sounding an alarm around the NBA’s compressed schedule and a rising tide of injuries due to so many games being played in so little time, reports Baxter Holmes of ESPN. The schedule, which is built to minimize contact and exposure, has taken a toll on teams around the league. It is something the Portland Trail Blazers have experienced, though they are finally fielding a relatively healthy team. Many of the rest days have been eliminated as a result of the schedule.
“Hands down, it’s the worst schedule I’ve seen in 25 years in the league,” said one veteran assistant coach. “It’s utterly insane.”
One veteran NBA head coach called it “brutal.”
According to one general manager, the number of injuries is unprecedented.
Added one NBA GM, “I’ve never experienced anything like our injury spate.”
“Every dumb soft-tissue [injury] that can happen is happening and will only get worse,” the NBA GM said.
An athletic trainer pointed out that there is very little rest built into the schedule.
“There’s no rest and recovery anymore with the COVID protocols,” said the veteran NBA head athletic trainer, who added, “The travel, combined with the morning testing, is unlike anything we’ve ever seen.”
The veteran athletic training staffer said, “[The players] walk down to the testing room like they’re 900-year-old men.”’
The testing protocol eats into players’ sleep.
A third GM, echoing sentiment felt among other league sources, also pointed to issues with false-positive test results, noting that they “require tremendous effort, often very late nights [until 3-4 AM] to contact trace, then scaring the s--- out of people caught in the contact tracing web who then have a sleepless night, all to hear ‘oops, sorry’ the following morning.”
One of the general managers said that the effects of this season will be lasting.
“This whole two-year period will have a marked long-term effect on players many years down the line,” said the second GM. “It’s like if your power goes out. You have to burn candles if you want light. If you burn them, you won’t have them the next time your power goes out. We are burning through the players right now at an alarming rate. But again, what’s the alternative? 25-man rosters? Fewer games? It’s not just a ‘league thing.’ It all required collaboration with the NBPA. It’s a shared responsibility, driven almost exclusively by the seduction of [money].”
The NBA contested the assessment of league personnel.
“In planning both this season and last season, we have communicated on a daily basis with our teams and NBA players, agreeing on two very different season formats that each made sense as a way to continue operating safely during the COVID-19 pandemic,” an NBA spokesperson told ESPN. “Injuries have unfortunately always been a part of the game, but we have not seen a higher rate of injuries this season than last. We will continue to work with teams and players to complete our season in the best and safest way possible that promotes both physical and mental health during this challenging period.”
You can read the entire piece here.