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Get A Load Of Management’s New Claim About Load Management

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 07: Anthony Davis #3 sits on the bench next to LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers during their game against the Golden State Warriors at Chase Center on October 07, 2023 in San Francisco, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Congratulations go out to the National Basketball Association and its 30 constituent franchises for constructing players who are stronger, more flexible, and less vulnerable to the things that muscles, bones, and tendons tend to do in high stress occupations.

This declaration—that the players are mightier than they used to be—came without any major new developments in medicine, chemistry, or kinesiology. Yet the league just declared Wednesday that load management was bullshit from the start, and that all the coaches, starting with Gregg Popovich, lied about players needing rest.

That's not a direct quote, of course. More an implication that necessarily follows from the league’s claim that some vague “data” shows that days off don’t actually benefit players. But then again, the identity of the person who did say it on the league's behalf, executive vice president for basketball affairs Joe Dumars, is instructive, in that in telling The Athletic's Sam Amick that the league no longer has empirical evidence that load management works, he contradicts commissioner Adam Silver, who said at his All-Star Weekend show'n'tell that the league DOES have scientific data that load management DOES work. We assume Dumars is not contradicting Silver—rather, he was sent to tell Amick that the data Silver had is old, and that there is new data that completely contradicts the old data.

Now we don't want to be cynical (we will now pause while your coughing fit passes), but we would normally wonder here whether the introduction of the play-in game and in-season tournament and owner sensitivity to idle money in civilian clothes is actually the new data to which Dumars refers. We would normally suspect that the data is in fact just a policy declaration made by rich guys who don't like paying the help to not work.

But that can't be it. This must be a simple matter of the players having physically, mentally, and emotionally evolved, ready to take on the challenge of more games as mandated by the P&L sheet. 

Amick described this as a "stunning" development. But if you're going to deal in stunning, dare to be really stunning. Don't announce that the fossil billionaire class wants their workers to work more; announce that the players have been cured of the need for load management. Of course, the league would have to show its work, and if it had that groundbreaking, science-bending evidence, Silver would surely have been the one to reveal it rather than Dumars. 

But there we go being cynical again. There must surely be a Nobel Prize in medicine for someone here—or possibly a Pulitzer for fiction—and since Silver doesn't want to take credit for it, it may as well be Dumars. Well done, Joe. You're a genius, and just in time for the season to start in 13 days.

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