The NBA has a problem. It needs star players on star teams to play in star games, no questions asked. Some star teams, however, are resting star players for star games, which angers fans, TV partners and the league office, among others.
What can the NBA do to ensure that LeBron James, Steph Curry and others are available for showcase games throughout the season?
“Well, it is a mess, and they do need to address it,” NBA-TV host Rick Kamla said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “To me, it’s very simple. Both sides need to meet in the middle, which they have to get the new CBA agreed upon. The players need to agree – unless they’re hurt – they need to make the showcase games. The TNT double-header, the Saturday-night games on ABC, maybe the Sunday-afternoon games on ABC or ESPN, maybe some select games on NBA-TV – make them mandatory. You could even put out a press release on it: These are the 40 or 45 showcase games. Make those games mandatory, and then teams will look to rest players (in other games).”
To be fair, this is only an issue with the Cavaliers, Warriors and Spurs – teams that are assured of a playoff spot (and, most likely, a conference-finals spot) and are taking a big-picture look at the season.
“It’s three out of 30,” Kamla said. “But get those teams to plan their rest out around these mandatory games. From the players’ standpoint, don’t schedule back-to-backs in these mandatory showcase games. Don’t schedule a Wednesday game for both teams or either team before a Thursday. So I think both sides need to meet in the middle. I totally agree that something needs to be done about this. What’s going on right now isn’t right.”
It’s especially not right for families who shell out big bucks and dedicate a huge portion of their day or weekend to see the greatest players in the world sit on a bench – or not even show up to the arena.
“It’s not right when LeBron is one-timing your city all year, you buy tickets in advance, you go to the arena and he’s not even there,” Kamla said. “It’s just not right. It’s not fair. Something needs to be done about it, but I think it has to be collectively bargained. I think this needs to be something that’s in ink, on a contract. I think if Adam Silver just sort of muscles up and flexes to the Players’ Association and the teams, I’m not sure if it’s going to be well-received. But if you collectively bargain it, I think it would be.”