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NBA

Some People Just Can’t Stand To See A Load Managed

9:36 AM EST on February 2, 2024

PARIS, FRANCE - JANUARY 11: NBA commissioner Adam Silver speaks during a press conference ahead of the Paris Game 2024 match between Brooklyn Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers at Accor Arena in Paris, France on January 11, 2024. (Photo by Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu via Getty Images)
Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu via Getty Images

Draymond Green, who explains everything for you whether it requires explanation or not, shared his thoughts on the 65-Game Rule (which should be called the 18-Non-Game Rule) that Adam Silver midwifed so that he could tell the network heads that he is willing to punish load-managers. Not surprisingly, the word "bullshit" featured prominently. In fact, not just bullshit but the rarely invoked adverb "quite."

"Joel [Embiid] playing [for the 76ers against Golden State] felt very much so because of the 65-game Rule," Green said on his eponymous podcast earlier this week. "I think it's actually quite bullshit. You get Joel, who comes out there and he forces it. Freak play with him and [Jonathan Kuminga] diving for the ball but, maybe it's not as bad if the knee isn't already banged up. I don't really bang with it. Now we've got one of our premier faces in this league, the MVP of our league, possibly hurt for an extended period of time because he's forcing it."

This was after Embiid had injured himself in his return after two games out with knee soreness, and before it was announced that it might be a serious injury. Only Embiid knows if he was truly forcing it, so Green is kind of talking through his hat here, but Green is right to call this not just bullshit but "quite." Of course the rule, created this offseason and which states that no player who does not play in 65 games in an 82-game season can be eligible for any of the major awards, is bullshit. Most rules are bullshit if you want to look at it that way. Why can't players just put the ball under their arms and run? Why can't teams play nine guys, or 12 or 101? Why isn't the three-point behind the benches? All rules are arbitrary, so depending on your viewpoint at the time they can all be regarded as quite something or other.

That Silver went against his long-rumored but only occasionally acted-upon care for the players to offer redress to the people he really loves—the people who pay rather than the ones who get paid—is not a surprise here. That's how commissioners get to be commissioners and get to stay commissioners. How else do you think they get to hold their jobs as long as they do? It’s not by keeping Draymond Green happy. Or Indiana's Tyrese Halliburton, who stands to lose millions if the max contract awaiting him for making the All-NBA team doesn't kick in next season because he is himself approaching the 18-DNP standard said, "I think it's a stupid rule, like plenty of the guys in the league, but this is what the owners want, so as players, we gotta do our job and play in 65 games if we're able to. So, that's what I gotta do, take care of my body to be able to play in those games, and I think you're seeing other players in the league kind of face the same thing. As long as the owners are happy."

Well, yes. Exactly. Of course that's what this is about. It's what everything is about. We shouldn't have to explain this, or have it explained to us. The system works for the system, and in this case the system is punishing players for management's decisions to load-manage its most important players. There never needed to be a rule at all. Voters for the awards could have made up their own minds on how many games are enough for a player to merit award consideration. 

This assumes, of course, you think the awards matter except as a mechanism for distributing bonuses, and you know owners feel about bonuses.

In short, attaching awards to what is essentially a management problem (keeping the network suits from wetting their leather chairs) is dishonest, yet typical. It's the league applying a standard that doesn't apply to a problem it created itself—you know, like the salary cap. Thus, Draymond Green is essentially right, which must gall people who think that with the year he's had he shouldn't be allowed the luxury of correctness.

But it must also be said that it's easy to be correct about the obvious, which is that rules are meant not to address grievances but to calm down the aggrieved with the most access to the rulemakers. And that is "quite" business as usual.

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