The term “load management” has been floating around a lot in the NBA the past couple of seasons. And it seemed to start when the Toronto Raptors modified Kawhi Leonard‘s minutes during last year’s regular season, although he wasn’t injured.
The move is typically done to reserve the team’s top player, so he’ll be fully replenished for the more important games, and it’s caused quite the debate in the league.
Because some believe it’s smart to sit a top player so they’re rested for big games, and others consider it unfair to the fans who want to see their favorite players on the court.
LeBron James weighed in on all of this, but not regarding NBA players, he talked about the ones in the youth sports organization the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU).
James played AAU ball when he was younger, and his two sons Bronny and Bryce currently play, and he said load management should be used at their level.
“These kids are going into the league already banged up, and I think parents and coaches need to know [that] … well, AAU coaches don’t give a f- – -,” James told Yahoo Sports. “AAU coaches couldn’t give a damn about a kid and what his body is going through.”
“It was a few tournaments where my kids — Bronny and Bryce — had five games in one day and that’s just f- – -ing out of control,” he added.
James then went on to say that he read a study about how AAU players have broken down bodies despite being so young, and the number of games they play are attached to a financial goal the league sets. But he didn’t mention the name of the study or its authors.
Plus, the Los Angeles Laker said he listens to his boys about how they feel about playing in a game.
“I’m very conscious for my own son because that’s all I can control, and if my son says he’s sore or he’s tired, he’s not playing,” James explained.
Earl Watson, a former NBA player and coach for the Phoenix Suns, agreed with James and attributed professional players’ injuries to how much they played during youth.
“Load management isn’t the toll of the NBA schedule, it’s the toll of youth travel basketball playing 12-15 games a weekend to keep the monthly fees validated!” he tweeted on November 6. “That hurts the players later in life & rookies are entering the NBA hurting! Youth hoops needs less games & more teaching!”
The conversation about kids playing too many organized basketball games is nothing new. Because in 2016 the NBA and USA Basketball released a set of guidelines to help parents, coaches and kids get the most out of the game in a positive, healthy way.
In the suggested guidelines, it says kids between 7-8 shouldn’t play more than one game a week, and children 9-12 no more than two to three games a week.