We've all heard the line, "chase the bag by any means," on the other side, we also hear the line "don't fumble the bag." I never thought it was possible to do both of those things simultaneously. Never thought I would see it until now. The 2020-2021 season is chasing the bag by any means while also fumbling the bag.
What do I mean? I mentioned it in my MVP ladder (Talley's MVP Ladder), injuries. Injuries have plagued this season, more than any other season I remember in recent memory. It's easy to say that it's a part of the game, but I think that's the easy way out.
The regular season is nearing its end, and the list of notable injuries increases as the season goes on. It's better to show you than to just tell you. Just peep this shortlist of injuries that I put together.
Notable Injuries that Occurred this Season
- LeBron James (ankle sprain)
- Anthony Davis (right calf strain)
- James Harden (hamstring tightness)
- Spencer Dinwiddie (torn ACL)
- Kevin Durant (hamstring strain, thigh contusion)
- CJ McCollum (foot fracture)
- Jusuf Nurkic (wrist fracture)
- T.J. Warren (plantar fasciitis in right foot)
- Myles Turner (turf toe)
- Gordon Hayward (foot sprain)
- Joel Embiid (knee bruise)
- Jamal Murray (torn ACL)
- Kemba Walker (knee)
- Donovan Mitchell (ankle sprain)
- Trae Young (ankle sprain)
I titled the list "Notable Injuries that Occurred this Season" for a reason. Notable being the keyword there. All the players I named on that list play for playoff teams or contenders. A majority of these players all played in last season's bubble, well into the playoffs. The time between the bubble and this season was almost nonexistent. Teams like the Lakers and the Heat went from battling in a six-game series in the finals to opening up a new season in just 71 days. 71 days to rest, refuel and regroup. Insanity.
The NBA's shortened offseason seemed like a great idea to many fans. Shit, I was one of those people who was excited to see the NBA return so fast. Hindsight is 20/20. None of us saw the toll the lack of proper rest would take on the players mentally and physically. Add the looming presence of COVID-19, and we are experiencing one of the weirdest seasons ever. Aside from players having their bodies break down on them due to fatigue and stress; players are missing games because of COVID-19. Games are being postponed because of COVID-19. Like I said before, none of us saw this coming, but none of us fans are the ones being paid to make sure the season runs smoothly. That's not our job. That falls on the shoulders of the commissioner, Adam Silver, and the other leaders in the NBA.
The NBA is a business, the money has to keep coming in. Regardless of that fact, chasing the money from television deals and streaming rights hurt the league this year. Basketball fans will watch basketball no matter what. It could be high school basketball or college basketball, give us hoops, and we're watching. On the other hand, casual fans have been turned off from the NBA during this season. Yes, there is a difference between basketball fans and casual fans.
Every day numerous fans turn on NBA games to see the box office attractions, the league's best players. The LeBrons, the Kevin Durants, and the Steph Currys are what casual fans want to see when they tune in to an NBA game. So what do you think happens when those very players aren't playing? They stop watching. Not to mention all the blowouts that have occurred this season in result of fatigue and injuries.
Aside from a decline in fanfare this season. The players are getting the raw end of this deal. The injuries that a lot of players sustained this year are adding miles to their bodies and careers. A torn ACL changes a player's career forever, no matter how you look at it. Fractures, bruises, and sprains all add up and develop into more severe injuries over time. The breaking point for me came when Jamal Murray tore his ACL. Even though he shouldn't have been in the game being down 12 with around 50 seconds left, that injury struck a nerve. I remember seeing Jamal Murray play in two seven-game series in last season's playoff bubble. He is one of those players that wasn't afforded the correct time to recover and rest after the Denver Nuggets deep post-season run.
Last season was the complete opposite of this season. COVID-19 really shook the league up. The schedule has been shattered, players' bodies have been challenged, and revenue has been affected. Take a glance at this season's injury report, and you see a myriad of names. Compare that to last season, and there is a noticeable difference. Of course COVID-19 has everything to do with that.
The 2020-2021 season has been a tough one for everyone involved. The health of players has been affected. The pockets of the NBA has been hurt. It has been harder to watch the games for fans. There could have been a long offseason ensuring that players got the proper rest needed. Many players, young and old, have had their careers affected, and only time will tell where these effects will lead. Bags have been fumbled, and players have been hurt. Regardless of these facts, the NBA is a business. Money must be made, the show must go on.