Whether it’s a real or perceived problem in the NBA, key players have been getting injured at an alarming rate. The loss of Kyrie Irving during Game 1 of the NBA Finals has brought the issue of player health to the center stage once again.
USA Today spoke with Adam Silver following the news of Kyrie’s injury, who said “whether or not there’s more we can do to prevent injuries is something we’re very focused on.”
Q: You seem to be pretty focused on the issue of injuries …
A: “Yeah, I am, and so is the Players Association. Everyone in this league has an interest in keeping our best players on the floor for more minutes, for more games, for longer careers. Like I said, it’s not a new issue, but from a league standpoint things we can do is take the league resources by bringing together data from all 30 teams and not making it a solitary issue for any team or any given player. And trying to figure out the optimal amount of training players should be doing. I mean frankly, maybe they’re working too hard. I mean talk to a guy like (NBA president of basketball operations) Rod Thorn, who has been with the league 50 years, and he’ll tell you that in his day (players) took more time off in the summer. Maybe that’s what’s necessary. But also, guys used to play more minutes (in games).”
Q: For sure. I remember talking to Jerry West about the routine back-to-back-to-backs when he was playing.
A: “We used to play back to backs on Saturday and Sunday during the conference finals, even sometimes during the Finals. But again, that doesn’t make it right. And unfortunately, we don’t have perfect data (on injuries) going back since the beginning of the league. All we can do is start using the data that we have, and we’ve been tracking for several years now to see whether patterns emerge. It’s the highest priority for the league, and that is keeping our players healthy.
“I would say all the discussions we’ve had about creating more space in the schedule, reducing the number of four-games-out-of-five-nights (stretches), all goes entirely on player health. There’s no economic incentives for doing those things. And we’re engaging in top doctors, top scientists from everywhere, and globally not just nationally to try and find a solution.”