The Los Angeles Clippers, or at least their star Kawhi Leonard are the face of load management. Leonard has become infamous for sitting out during games in an effort to make sure he’s prepared for the latter parts of the season and a potential title run. Load management is typically used to rest certain players during regular-season games in order for them to peak during the postseason.
Recently, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James took jabs at the idea of load management, and Clippers head coach Doc Rivers didn’t take them lightly. Rivers’ comments on James pointed to the star essentially ‘calling the shots’ for the Lakers.
“It’s our philosophy. I don’t know what theirs are,” Rivers said. “I think theirs is whatever LeBron says it is, to be honest. That makes a lot of sense to me. I like what we are doing and I think it’s the smart thing to do. We’ll see at the end.”
Former Laker and NBA star Gary Payton had strong words on these comments, as he came back and slammed Rivers.
“Doc, you ain’t taking the truth, because the simple fact is you know that’s why Kawhi came to you anyways. Because he told you if you don’t load manage me the way I want to be load managed then I’m not coming here, and you said ‘ok.’ You know that’s the truth so you talking about LeBron saying it – Kawhi’s saying it over there too,” Payton said.
LeBron James Takes Jab at Kawhi Leonard
Most recently, Leonard sat out during the Clippers’ second game of a back-to-back against the Chicago Bulls to rest his knee. Shortly after this, James was asked if he would be intentionally sitting out in the near future. The Lakers star laughed at this idea and seemed to take a bit of a jab at one of L.A.’s other superstars.
“Y’all want me to sit out?” James told The Athletic. “I don’t know how many games I got left in my career. I don’t know how many kids that may show up to a game and they’re there to come see me play and if I sit out, then what? That’s my obligation. My obligation is to play, play for my teammates and if I’m healthy, then I’m going to play.”
These comments are what sparked Rivers’ comments and then led to Payton offering his own strong opinion. Per Yahoo Sports, Payton continued his rant by offering praise to James.
“With LeBron – I give you all the props, LeBron because you’re teaching these young boys what the game is all about. You’re 35-years-old and you’re telling them you don’t know how many more days you’re going to play in this league. Plus, the people that come and see you because you’re so popular – all these kids out here come to see you play and you’d disappoint them. Your obligation when you’re making $25-$30 million a year is to play basketball if you’re healthy,” Payton said.
The Lakers don’t have any additional time to entertain this topic as they have a big game Thursday against the Milwaukee Bucks. Both teams sit atop their respective conference and they each boast the NBA’s best record at 24-4.