ESPN – Hall of Famer Charles Barkley is “angry” that the NBA moved up the start of the season to lessen the amount of back-to-back games and eliminate any teams playing four games in five nights. Speaking at Southern Methodist University on Wednesday, Barkley sarcastically said he wanted to “commend the NBA” for cutting the amount of back-to-back games. The 2017-18 schedule reduces the number of back-to-back games to an average of 14.4 per team, down from 16.3 per team last season. No team has more than 16 back-to-backs this season. “You know, these poor babies can’t play back-to-back games. They’re making $20, 30, $40 million a year. But we want to make it convenient for them. They’re making $40 million making a year, we can’t stress ’em out. So we’re just going to make it more comfortable for them. The private jets and four-star hotels aren’t enough,” he said, continuing his sarcastic tone.
God bless Charles Barkley, the guy just says whatever the fuck he’s thinking, which is truly a dying breed these days. Sure, a lot of players say he’s just bitter, which is on full display in his frequent near fist fights with Shaq on TNT. But he’s right.
I understand what the NBA is trying to do here; eliminate, or marginally disrupt, the practice of teams resting its top stars. Especially for nationally televised games. There was nothing worse than when the league hyped an upcoming Spurs game for weeks only to find out Tim Duncan and half the starters are in three blazers on the bench.
So if this helps reduce that, then fine. But to Chuck’s point he says the league is babying these players that are already making $20+ million per year. So if they’re complaining about back to backs now, what the hell are they gonna bitch about next?
Credit to LeBron James, who has really lead this revolution of giving the players more power than they’ve ever had before. He was really the first guy to ask why should I sign these long term contracts with Cleveland? How am I going to make sure they keep their promise to always be improving my team? As the best player in the league LeBron has created more leverage than any other player in American sports by signing the now common 1+1 deals. Basically a one year contract with a one year player option that subtly threatens he’ll leave in Free Agency if ownership doesn’t keep improving the team. Gotta give the dude credit for continuously putting himself in the best situation.
So I agree with what Chuck is saying here 100%, especially about road trips:
“It’s just sad because you’re just disrespecting the fans. You know they’re only going to get to see you one time a year in some of these situations, and you would think a guy was like, ‘You know what, they’re only going to see me one time a year, I’m going to play in that city.”
But I’m pragmatic and times are a changing. Guys don’t wanna play back to backs. Coaches want to rest their players. Look at the Cavs, they take half the regular season off because having the best regular season record doesn’t mean shit to them. So if this is what allows players to suit up for those random road trips then fine. I’d be bullshit if I paid $100 for a ticket to see Anthony Davis at the Garden, only to see he’s sitting out because he needs some R&R. Ultimately it’ll be good for the league, but keep spitting that hot fire Chuck. Say that shit.