NBA: One-Game Injury Absences Up 63% This Season

by April 17, 2012

Buried in an interesting LA Times story about the sleeping habits of NBA players during this compressed and brutal regular season, is an illuminating statistical nugget about the effect of injuries on players’ availability for games: “Sleep is a low priority on NBA itineraries and players often compensate with pregame naps. Miami’s LeBron James, Chicago’s Derrick Rose and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook all swear by them, and the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant checks into a hotel before home games for a siesta. Metta World Peace also naps and made a change this season that also helps. ‘Not much partying,’ the Lakers forward said. ‘I remember going out more, but I don’t go out that much this year.’ In interviews with more than a dozen NBA players, many say they are not doing much to compensate for the loss of sleep but they are feeling the effects of the compressed season. ‘I’ve felt the three games in a row,’ said Denver guard Andre Miller. ‘That was tough. I had nothing in the tank on the third game.’ According to statistics compiled by the NBA, the number of one-game injury absences during the season’s first 60 days had increased 63% from the same period a season ago. When tired, even after a nap, most NBA players do what many non-athletes do: ingest a stimulant. Lakers guard Matt Barnes loves 5-hour Energy Shots. Oklahoma City’s Kendrick Perkins prefers a B-12 vitamin shot or two. His Thunder teammate Serge Ibaka likes green tea, as does Clippers star Blake Griffin. Coffee doesn’t seem to be popular among NBA players. ‘Coffee makes you too jittery,’ Perkins said. But although caffeine and other stimulants mask the need for sleep, they can’t replace it. More than one-third of U.S. adults receive less than the recommended seven hours of sleep per night, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And it’s easy to see why NBA players are among that third. Night games often end about 10:15. It’s close to 11 by the time players have showered, dressed and spoken to the media. If there’s no game the next day, most players aren’t usually in bed — either because of a late dinner, a trip to a nightclub, or both — for an hour or two. But when their head hits the pillow, many are too wired to sleep. […] But if an NBA team is traveling, players might not arrive at their hotel until 2 or 3 a.m. Shootarounds typically start at 10 a.m., for which players have to be present by 9. That leaves them a few hours to sleep. It sounds like a hectic schedule. Now imagine it sped up, as it has been this season.”