You Play to Win the Game

To rest or not to rest that is the question? Whether or not to sit down stars through out the season and most specifically in the last games after you clinch your spot in the playoffs seems to be an annual topic. For the Spurs, I can see the need to rest. The have a geriatric unit for a starting five. With the talent and depth of Popovich’s teams, I would argue the weekly Parker, Ginobli, Duncan day of rest actually makes his team better by getting experience to his guys to make them life long Spurs like the “Elderly Big Three.” The Spurs are the exception to the rule.

The average NBA team age is 26. 26! If you are telling me teams are paying players hundreds of millions of dollars to run up and down the court for 30-35 minutes a game twice a week and then need to take days off! Their job is to be in incredible shape and be professional basketball players. If they need 5-10 games off in the regular reason just to wear a ridiculous suit and clap on the side line while there team gets railed by 40 points then that is just sad. Looking at you Lebron. The season is 82 games and spans 6 months. That is 183 days, which for those of you playing at home would be 100 days of not playing. Now I realize that during that time they have practice and travelling and work outs but all of that is designed to help you be the best during the actually games. So if what you are doing during those 100 days of no games makes you too tired to play then you, your coaches, or your training staff is doing something wrong.

Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images
Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images

The Cavilers and the Celtics have also been participating in the health scratch epidemic sweeping the NBA. Fans pay to see the best players play every night. When you drop 50 dollars on some seats for a regular season game and you watch the Cleveland “Understudies” play 48 minutes of basketball with 40 turnovers and shoot 25% from the field for the whole game you should get your money back. To once again quote the great Dick Vermeil, “You play to win the game!”.

With the season coming to a close, a lot of teams are pulling back on the reins and coasting into the playoffs. I understand people say they don’t want to get guys hurt and limit minutes but to step of the throttle when you want your team to be preforming at its best seems counter productive. Have the world’s best basketball players go out on the floor and do amazing things, make spectacular dunks, throw amazing passes and take incredible shots. The more chemistry teams have the better especially with the playoffs right around the corner.

This is a special year because of what the Warriors are on the doorstep of accomplishing. To even suggest resting people during a potentially historic event is insulting to all athletes and competitors. There is a chance to do something that hasn’t been done in 20 years and to not give that your full attention and respect is upsetting. It says we don’t really want to be the best. Say you want you want about how the game has changed or that the 95-96’ Bulls were a better team blah, blah, blah. At the end of the day if the Warriors are able to win 73 regular seasons games then they would be the best team. If the Bulls want to argue they were then they should have won 74 games so we wouldn’t have to have this discussion.

Resting people at the end of a season is a recipe for disaster. Speaking as a Colts fan, I have watched many a game in week 14, 15 and 16 where the team didn’t play the starters and it has cost us dearly in the playoffs. You need that momentum and competitive spirit to succeed. This is the time when each and every night the best players in NBA are giving it there and possibly even playing defense ( I know, it would shock me too). I know the argument is that they are trying to protect players from injury but that is what these guys signed up for. Consider the salary 6 million dollars a year hazard pay. If you are really that considered with the health of the players for the whole year then pay them less money because they should be resting all the time since the 82 times they have to work themselves for 45 minutes is too strenuous. Also what is the difference between injuring yourself in the last game of the season or the first game of the playoffs. Injuries happen, it is part of the game. You can turn an ankle stepping off the bus or slipping in the shower. Its not about avoid injuries or resting to resting’s sake. It’s about the love of the game, the will to compete, the desire to win and the aspirations of being the best. The best don’t take nights off, they play to win the game.

Featured image by Soobum Im, US Presswire