Entitlement is something many professional athletes suffer from and the recent LeBron James comment in regards to the NBA scheduling is a prime example of someone who is “out of touch” with the real world. James is claiming that Kawhi Leonard’s injury, which has put the star out indefinitely, is a result of the NBA’s condensed schedule.
They all didn’t wanna listen to me about the start of the season. I knew exactly what would happen. I only wanted to protect the well being of the players which ultimately is the PRODUCT & BENEFIT of OUR GAME! These injuries isn’t just “PART OF THE GAME”. It’s the lack of PURE
— LeBron James (@KingJames) June 16, 2021
David Weiss, NBA senior vice president of player matters, highlighted the inaccuracy of James’ claims.
“Injuries rates this season were virtually the same as last season, and any suggestion to the contrary is inaccurate,” said Weiss. “The number of serious injuries was lower this season than last season.”
Baxter Holmes, a senior writer for ESPN, investigated the injuries in the condensed season and found that the leagues All-Stars missed the highest percentage of games this season in the leagues history. Although this data seems to rival that of Weiss’ comment, this was to be expected in my opinion.
These are professional athletes who are physically exerting themselves every single day. With quicker turnaround between games and training sessions as a result of the condensed season, it is understandable that athletes would have higher rates of injury. However, they are more than compensated for this in salary and are the ones who chose to pursue such a demanding career. If players want the glamour that comes with being an NBA star, they must be prepared to deal with the risk of injury.
Considering this risk, it is always present even during a regular season. Although some of these injuries may be a direct result of not having adequate rest time, many of them would not have been prevented even with a normal season. It’s a sport, and with any sport there are going to be injuries.
Shaquille O’Neal responded to James’ comments and touched on the privileged position that James is in that allows him to even make this statement.
“When you’re living in a world where 40 million people have been laid off and I’m making $200 million, you won’t get no complaining from me,” said O’Neal. “I’d play back to back to back to back to back.”
James’ remarks come at a time in which people are suffering. There are people working longer hours at harder jobs making barely enough to survive. This is if they are lucky as there are many others, as O’Neal mentioned, that are unemployed. The pandemic has left individuals struggling to make ends meet; this is not a time for stars to be complaining. Everyone has it hard.
James makes 39.22 million a year and will reach $1 billion in career earnings this year. James, and any other professional athlete in a position such as his, should stop whining about hard work. There are people making astronomically less than them who face the risk of injury at work everyday. Besides, James is out of the playoffs and doesn’t have to deal with this condensed season anymore.
The only person who really has a right to make any complaint would be Leonard, and even then I would still consider it unjust. Every game that a player walks onto the court, there is a risk they could get injured; it’s not the NBA’s fault they decided to pursue a career as a professional basketball player.
The NBA took the steps that they deemed necessary to have a COVID-19 safe season. These aren’t normal times and people can not expect normal circumstances to take place. The condensed season may be to blame for the increase of injuries and the league should look into that; however, that is not reason enough for a well-paid highly privileged athlete to complain especially in a time in which no one knows what the correct answers are.
I hope to see across the board attitude changes in athletes, in the NBA and other leagues. These athletes are supposed to be role models to the next generation of players and the kids watching at home don’t need to see a headline of a player complaining about something that is not confirmed as true or in which it does not even affect them. Players should model a good work ethic and use their platform to advocate for others and more dire and important causes, instead of whining to get attention.