The NBA is cracking down on load management and have now claimed that the concept doesn’t work to prevent player injury.
“Before, it was a given conclusion that the data showed that you had to rest players a certain amount, and that justified them sitting out,” the NBA VP of basketball operations, Joe Dumars said in a media conference call last week. “We’ve gotten more data, and it just doesn’t show that resting, sitting guys out correlates with lack of injuries, or fatigue, or anything like that. What it does show is maybe guys aren’t as efficient on the second night of a back-to-back.”
What’s interesting is that the league wasn’t too concerned about load management not too long ago.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver spoke about it in February and even stated that players being out on the court more isn’t something he was buying into.
“You see, I hesitate to weigh in on an issue as to whether players are playing enough because there is real medical data and scientific data about what’s appropriate,” Silver said in Salt Lake City. “The suggestion that these men… somehow should just be out there more… I don’t buy into.”
The league only seemed to take this hard stance on player resting when they started negotiating new national television broadcast rights.
The NBA’s newfound claims have been met with scepticism by NBA coaches and staff alike.
“It’s just PR,” one NBA coach told The Athletic, who was granted anonymity so that he could speak freely about the meeting with Dumars. “There are plenty of other studies that prove load management makes sense from an injury and recovery standpoint.”
A former sports science director said, “Like, if we’re all waiting for this to be evidence-based, and for the science to support it, we’ll be doing it 10 years from now. That’s how long it takes to get our research. And then the next research paper disproves it. So in elite sports, we’re early adopters, we can’t wait for science and research. We can use the concepts of base science and apply them. But if we wait for evidence, we’ve missed. We’re fired because we haven’t stayed ahead of the curve.”
It will be interesting to see how the new rules will impact players and teams throughout the 2023-24 season.