“Back in my day …”
That’s the gist of Charles Barkley’s rant against the NBA. The league reduced the number of back-to-back games and eliminated four-games-in-five-nights scenarios to produce a better overall product.
But the Hall of Famer views the move as coddling spoiled athletes who are making “30, 40 million dollars.”
“I think it’s a travesty that the NBA didn’t just tell these guys to play basketball two days in a row,” Barkley told an audience Wednesday at Southern Methodist University. “Moving the season up, it’s just a joke to me.”
“I’ve sat with older guys who took trains and played three days in a row,” he said. “I think it’s a joke and travesty that these guys won’t play back-to-back games with all the private jets and stuff that they got. The NBA caved in, instead of making them play back-to-back games.”
He sounds like the grumpy old man telling kids to get off his lawn, jealous of their youth, wishing he was young again and able to enjoy their toys – nine-figure contracts, charter flights and less-demanding schedules.
Those things didn’t exist when he was coming up.
I’m sure he would’ve turned them down.
“I played two games in a row and flew commercial,” he said. “I played four games in five days and flew commercial.”
Here’s my best guess without going to the videotape: The level of play in those situations often sucked, or was sub-par at best.
Barkley sounds like someone who believes in “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” But such adherence is LITERALLY the worst possible reason to continue doing something.
There have been numerous advances in science, training and nutrition (likely foreign concepts to the Chuckster). Research clearly shows the deleterious effects of back-to-back contests, with fatigued players subject to higher injury rates in the second game. Whether you make $100,000 or $100 million, your body reacts the same to overexertion, sleep deprivation and 40,000 miles at 30,000 feet each season.
Improving work conditions for the labor force is simply good for business. Giving customers – i.e., fans – a better product by reducing back-to-backs is good for business. There’s absolutely no downside in the NBA’s decision to alter the schedule.
Barkley doesn’t care about that. He’s only focused on the chartered flights, four-star hotels, and prodigious direct deposits enjoyed by today’s generation.
He should get over it and quit player hating.
— Follow Deron on Twitter @DeronSnyder and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.