LeBron: Youth basketball asks “too much”
This week’s around-the-league notes lead off with LeBron James’ thoughts on the demands placed on young players before they even get to the NBA
SAN ANTONIO — There’s a decent chance, after the 2022-23 NBA season runs its course, that games lost to injury leaguewide will be down compared to where the figure fell last season.
The COVID-19 wave that upended the entire league last season figures to be nowhere near as severe this winter, after the need for emergency call-ups in 2021-22 took the number of players past 600 in a single season for the first time in NBA history.
The new season, though, has been marked by numerous marquee players already missing time during the season’s opening quarter as covered in last week’s TWIB — pumping up the volume on questions that seek to pinpoint the reasons why as well as the general concern about how many regular-season games are played without the foremost names.
Are the injuries that plague modern-day players a function of year-round overtraining for their jobs? Or a byproduct, perhaps, of the relentless schedules they adhere to in their younger years on the pathway to the pros?
The latter especially is a question I’ve been hoping to ask LeBron James for some time. The Los Angeles Laker not only has two decades’ worth of his own experiences at the top level to draw on; he’s got two sons playing at the highest levels of the youth circuit as we speak.
On Saturday night, after James rumbled for 39 points and 11 rebounds in his second outing back from a five-game absence caused by a left adductor strain, I got that chance to get the 37-year-old’s take on the nature of year-round play and the demands that the modern game is putting on players. He had much to say after an offensive eruption that, as illustrated here, had some record-book significance.
“I think it’s too much,” James said. “I think it’s too many tournaments being played throughout the full year and not allowing these kids to recover.