The player rest argument has subsided for the most part now that the NBA playoffs are in full swing, but Charles Barkley is still talking about it. Appearing Monday morning on ESPN's "Mike & Mike" the basketball analyst started talking about player rest after complimenting Russell Westbrook.
“What he has done this year to will that team, playing every single night, not resting like some of these other fools are doing, resting when they’re getting paid $25 million a year to play a stupid basketball game. It’s crazy," he began.
Barkley finished his thoughts on Westbrook and when he was done, the hosts saw an opportunity to get Chuck going. They asked him about players resting, which became an issue when the Warriors and Cavs benched players late in the season, and he had some thoughts.
“[The top 10-15 players] played double-digit years in the NBA and they played in those crappy Converse shoes, they flew commercial or rode the bus or train and all of a sudden now, you got all of these idiots who use analytics and say, ‘guys need rest.’ It makes me sick to my stomach. It’s not proven anywhere these guys need rest.
"[Players now] don’t fly commercial. When I came into the NBA, we flew commercial. I wish these guys would say, ‘Hey, you know what. I’m just trying to extend my career.’ That’s what it’s about. There’s nowhere proven that a great, great player has ever hurt himself or has shortened his career. I’ve looked at all these numbers. Name me one great player in the history of basketball who didn’t play double-digit years who got hurt. Nobody did. These guys are making so much money they’re like, ‘You know what, I just want to extend my career.’ Just say you want to make money. Don’t come up with, ‘Well if you rest, it’s safer for you.’ There’s not one great player in the history of basketball whose career was ended because he rested.”
Barkley's rant is interesting, because most people have accepted the analytics that prove resting improves players' health. The argument against player rest typically is that fans don't get to watch star players in primetime matchups. But Barkley seems upset at the data behind it.
Even NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who called player rest "an extremely significant issue" said earlier this month that the analytics are there: “I only say this is a complex issue because many of our coaches have pointed out that as disappointing as it is for any individual fan on a night where a player is rested, if we all came to the point where we accepted the science (and) the medical data supports genuine resting as improving performance and prolonging careers and reducing injuries, I think we'd all have to agree that it does make sense at certain points in the season to rest players."
The argument will likely be pushed aside during the playoffs since players aren't resting now, but expect this to be a major topic in the offseason.