LeBron James & Kawhi Leonard Among the Opposing Views on Load Management

Kawhi Leonard

Getty Images Kawhi Leonard for the Los Angeles Clippers

Los Angeles Clippers Kawhi Leonard and load-management have been the topic of discussion lately. Some even consider the three-time All-Star the poster child of load-management. Whether it’s backlash, support or a $50,000 fine, everyone seems to have an opinion on the subject. NBA greats like Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan and LeBron James have even jumped in on the matter, and though times have progressed, both sides of the argument bring up valid points.

Here is everything you need to know about load management:

What Is Load Management?

In simpler terms, load management is used when players feel the need to sit during games/practices in order to limit physical strain on their bodies. The NBA season is 82-games long and includes an average of 12.4 back-back games, according to the Washington Post. With a season this grueling, players often feel the need to preserve their bodies for the post season when games matter most, hence why players choose to sit due to load management early on in the season.

According to FanDuel, Gregg Popovich, head coach of the San Antonio Spurs, is often considered the pioneer of the term ‘load management.’ Popovich would sit out players like Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobli in order to preserve them for playoffs. According to SBNation, the NBA has a policy in place that reserves them the right to fine teams $100,000 for sitting healthy players in nationally televised games. The popularity of this way of playing is fairly new and has sparked the attention of past and present NBA players.

Michael Jordan on Load Management: “You’re paid to play 82 games”

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan, the greatest of all time, of the Chicago Bulls

After the Clippers decided to sit Kawhi Leonard due to load management, knee in their game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Orlando Magic head coach Steve Clifford voiced his opinion on the matter. Per Bleacher Report, Clifford got his philosophy from Charlotte Hornets owner and NBA all time great, Michael Jordan. As reported by Bleacher Report Clifford’s comments were as follows:

“Our guys aren’t used to sitting on the second game of a back-to-back. We’re not sitting guys just to sit,” Clifford said, per Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “For me, my background frankly, it all goes back to expectations. Being with Michael in Charlotte, Michael used to tell them every year, ‘you’re paid to play 82 games.'”

Michael Jordan has well earned the respect as the GOAT. He played 15-seasons in the NBA, he’s a six-time NBA champion and averaged 30.1 points a game. MJ played sick or healthy and in one of his most famous games, he even played with the flu in 1997.

As reported by The Undefeated, “I almost played myself into passing out,” Jordan said after the game. “I came in and I was almost dehydrated, and it was all just to win a basketball game. I couldn’t breathe. My energy level was really low. My mouth was really dry. They started giving me Gatorade, and I thought about IV.”

Kobe Bryant on Load Management

The Black Mamba, another NBA Great, is not for load management. As reported by Ball Is Life Kobe said, “It’s crazy. You got a lot of people paying their hard earned money to come watch you perform. It’s your job to be in shape & be able to perform at that level every night. As a competitor, I’m not ducking s**t.”

The Mamba was too an amazing basketball player that played injury or not. According to ClutchPoints, when the topic of load management was brought up, Kobe reminisced about his game against the Toronto Raptors in 2000.  Kobe said:

“We had a game against Toronto in 2000, and Vince was tearing the league up. My back was jacked. But the perception of that, Kobe is missing a game against Toronto and Vince Carter” Kobe said “Man, my back was really having spasms. But people would have looked at me like, ‘Oh, he’s duckin’ Vince.’ Excuse me? No, I don’t think so. So I would be in the layup line like, ‘Okay, there are a lot of days when you can rest and recover. Today ain’t one of them. He’s gonna have to see me today.”

LeBron James: ‘If I’m not hurt, I’m playing’

LeBron James

Getty ImagesLeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers

Though LeBron James didn’t say if he agreed with load management or not, he did say the option wasn’t for him. Per ESPN, he said, “If I’m hurt, I don’t play. If not, I’m playing.” He continued to say, “That’s what has always been my motto.”

King James is an incredible ball player and is obviously dedicated to the game. This season he is averaging 26.0 points, a league-best 10.5 assists and 7.8 rebounds per game. Though James is six years Kawhi’s senior, LeBron believes his body is still able to uphold the intensity that the league calls for.

Positives of Load Management

Clippers star, Kawhi Leonard is proof that load management can work. It may not work for everybody, but it does work for Leonard. Whether it is right or wrong is a different discussion. Kawhi has a history of chronic quad injury, so he and his team feel it’s best to sit him during back-to-back games. The Finals MVP played a total of 60 regular-season games with the Raptors and according to ESPN writer, Ohm Youngmisuk he led the team to the NBA Finals because they trusted him to sit out during regular season games.  Per the OC Register, Clippers coach Doc Rivers said that this season, the team will sit Kawhi on a “case-to-case basis.”

ESPN basketball analyst, Jay Williams brought up his point of view on ESPN’s Get Up. He said, “Guys in previous generations were running on treadmills, eating donuts. We have analytics in our game today. We have things that have proven, hey over the long course of the season, 82 games, this is how you get the optimal effect of your body.”

ESPN Get Up | Jay Williams "insists" Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard load management is 'ridiculous'ESPN Get Up | Jay Williams "insists" Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard load management is 'ridiculous' ———————————————————————————————————– ESPN First Take Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman Undisputed: Skip and Shannon ESPN SC – SportsCenter NFL Gameday Moning SportsCenter Special College Football Live NFL Gameday Prime College Gameday NFL Live NBA GameTime ————————————————————————————————— #firsttake #stephenasmith #nbagametime #espnsc2019-11-07T13:36:49.000Z

Both sides of the issue bring up good points that are hard to defend and argue. It is safe to say that Kawhi Leonard will be sitting out in future games due to load management. It goes without saying, this subject has no where near ran it’s course as the hot topic of discussion.

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