Charles Barkley on Load Management: Steel Mill Workers Are Tired Too, Still Go to Work

Charles Barkley
Charles Barkley /

The NBA load management discussion has unfortunately been given new wind by the All-Star Game earlier this month. All the players jogged around and didn't take it seriously because the game has no meaning and there is no point in pushing their bodies to the limit as a result. Or so the argument goes. It resulted in the lowest-viewed All-Star Game of all time and got everybody talking again about the larger problem of load management.

Charles Barkley is at the forefront of the "players need to play" crowd and further pushed his agenda on ESPN's First Take today, saying that steel workers are tired after a week of work too but they still show up.

Two tremendous points about this segment were made by my coworker Stephen Douglas in the TBL Slack that I want to share. First, Barkley talks a lot about players needing to work harder for a guy who is paid a truly exorbriant amount of money to work two nights a week at most and famously doesn't bother to try very hard. Second, perhaps we should be talking less about why load management exists in the NBA and instead ask why the rest of the professions don't have load management. No matter your chosen profession, work is hard and can be draining! Getting a day off here and there is not a reflection of poor work ethic or Everything That's Wrong With This Generation. It is simply an acknowledgment that we can all be worn down.

Anyway, the fundamental misunderstanding that Barkley and others in his camp constantly push is that this is a player problem. Like Stephen Curry is waking up on the morning of a back-to-back and just decides he doesn't want to play that day. That is not how it works. Maybe for a guy like LeBron James, who is 38 years-old and takes care of his body to a degree we've never seen. But for most players it's the team and doctors telling them that the medical knowledge suggests sitting out X games over the course of the season will increase the likelihood that they will be at peak shape for the playoffs by X percent.

The fact that fans are paying full freight and then find out their favorite player is sitting out two hours before tip is certainly a problem. But it is not a problem that the players are responsible for fixing.