A number of injuries surfacing around the NBA league during basketball playoffs

Ruben Banuelos, Staff Writer

Athletes and teams throughout the NBA have experienced many injuries during the 2021 playoffs. The injuries have become a daunting normality to the game that Los Angeles Lakers forward Lebron James has expressed his frustration on social media.
In a series of tweets by arguably one of the greatest players to touch a basketball, James posted to his Twitter account about the number of injuries that have been happening in this year’s playoffs.
James voiced his dissatisfaction with the NBA regular season schedule by highlighting the eight to nine injuries key All-Star players have endured. He also stated how there is the “PRODUCT & BENEFIT of OUR GAME! These injuries aren’t just “PART OF THE GAME,” which is ultimately true.
The off-season between the 2019-2020 and the 2020-2021 seasons has been the shortest rest period in the history of all American major leagues. With the season ending in the middle of October 2020, the NBA stars were already back in action less than three months later on Dec. 22. Last year’s finals included the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat. That left both teams being left with the least amount of rest in between the two seasons.
A few of the players who have endured injuries in this year’s playoffs include Brooklyn Nets’ shooting guard James Harden, his teammate, point guard Kyrie Irving, and Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard. Common injuries have included ankle, hamstring, and/or back spasms that have caused players to miss a number of games. 
Injuries have also hurt player conditioning due to having a regular-season injury, for example, James, who was forced to miss a good amount of time in the regular season and with not enough time to heal, had his injury carry over into the playoffs.
Phil Handy, assistant coach of the Lakers discussed James’ training, “LeBron James spends an immaculate amount of money every single year just to maintain his shape and athleticism. This is why he can maintain his athletic ability and strength as he gets older, it’s as if he gets even better with age.” James’ injury came as surprise as he diligently works year-round to keep his body in the best shape possible.
In an opposing argument, spokesperson Mike Bass criticized James’ tweets stating that: “Injury rates were virtually the same this season as they were during 2019-20 while starter-level and All-Star players missed games due to injury at similar rates as the last three seasons.” Bass ended his statements by saying that injuries are an unfortunate reality to the game.
Anything can happen in any sport but past seasons were not nearly impacted with issues such as having the entire country shut down due to a global pandemic that locked the world down beginning in December 2019. At the end of the day, prior seasons had proper off-seasons with carefully planned training programs, weightlifting, and most importantly, rest.
We also have to take into account the business side of the game which requires the league to get as many games in as possible to try to meet expectations and make money. But shortening the season by only 10 games to 72 (normal season being 82 games) didn’t provide players with enough rest as they participated in an intense bubble season.
The 2020 NBA bubble season which commenced on June 16 took place at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. After the world and most of the U.S. shut down in March, NBA officials were discussing how to finish out the rest of the season. The remainder of the season took place at the isolated Disney World theme park which is how it got its name “bubble” season.
The NBA season was suspended on March 11 after a player tested positive for coronavirus. The players went through a quick turnaround time when they began the bubble season only about three months after the season had been suspended. Players weren’t able to be with their respective teams’ training, practicing, and working out while the season was suspended. The time period between March 11 and June 16 was almost the equivalent of doing little to nothing at all especially if factors within the season such as travel and playing more games in quick succession are considered.
For example, the Memphis Grizzlies and the San Antonio Spurs had to do the most work in the second half of the 2021 season playing 40 games in 68 days, meaning about 1-2 games a day.
All in all, this year’s NBA season was destined to be impacted due to such a heavy workload and with not nearly enough time to prepare. Although injuries are part of the game having such a short off-season could be one of the factors to the number of injuries throughout the organization. With the conference finals which began on June 20, there’s more intense work for players to put on their bodies.
As media and fans, we can only hope that an injury does not take down another player. The games are for the fans and fans wish to see the best players compete against each other to ultimately see who’s the last one standing.
The product is what it is because of the decisions made by the NBA’s top leaders like Executive Adam Silver. The league should start thinking more about their players since again they are the establishment of this organization.