The NBA season will be starting a little bit earlier than normal this year, mostly in an effort to balance out the schedule so that players are able to get the proper amount of rest between games. Specifically, the extended NBA calendar will help reduce (but not eliminate) those grueling back-to-back games, which have become even more controversial over the past few years as big stars like Tim Duncan, Steph Curry, or LeBron James simply sit out the second night, drawing the ire of fans, television networks, and NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
The current players are bound to appreciate even an extra couple of days off during the long season, but former player Charles Barkley was quick to call them all soft.
“I want to commend the NBA. You know, these poor babies can’t play back-to-back games,” said Barkley sarcastically at an SMU athletic even this week.
“Making $30-, $40-million a year. But we want to make it convenient for them. At $40 million a year, we can’t stress ’em out. The private jets and the four-star hotels is not enough, so I just want to commend the NBA for just making it so convenient for these poor babies,” Barkley added.
“You know, I am so angry at the NBA for telling these guys — wait a minute, we’re paying you $30 or $40 million dollars a year. You can’t play basketball two days in a row? I think it’s a travesty. It’s just a joke to me,” continued Sir Charles. “Listen, we flew commercial and we were able to play back-to-back, back-to-back. I played with older guys who took trains and played three days in a row. The NBA caved in. Instead of making them play back-to-back games, they moved he season up. I think it’s a joke.”
"You know these poor babies can't play back-to-back games."
Charles Barkley rips the NBA changing the schedule. pic.twitter.com/7YlPIpSiTg
— Joe Trahan (@JoeTrahan) September 20, 2017
The NBA regular season begins on October 17 with a new schedule that will eliminate stretches were teams have to play four games in five nights. It will also cut down on the number of times a team has to play two games in three days, and instances of back-to-back games.
While part of the goal is definitely keeping the best players (who play the most minutes) healthy, it’s also an attempt to ensure that the brightest stars aren’t sitting out nationally televised games. The league’s TV partners coughed up billions of dollars for the rights to show NBA games, and they are understandably annoyed when King James decides to sit out a Saturday night primetime game against the Celtics because he’s a little fatigued. The NBA wants to institute fines for players who sit out due to “rest,” but those rule changes would still have to be approved by the Board of Governors.