It’s the Schedule, Stupid
The NBA is in denial. To claim that playing more games in fewer days without proper training camp to get up to speed is preposterous.
This year’s NBA season began less than 2 weeks after the lock-out doors opened. The players were then thrown into a whirlwind schedule, often playing 2 nights in a row, occasionally 3 in a row. Many criticized the quality of play at the beginning of the season. My impression was that the players were pacing themselves for the grueling sprint ahead of them. Injury rates were not astronomical, but the season’s not over, actually the intensity is about to rise, as the playoffs began on Saturday.
Derrick Rose of the Bulls and the Knicks’ Imam Shumpert both went down with ACL tears on Saturday. It’s probably a coincidence that they both happened on the same day, late in a game, without contact. Commissioner David Stern, backed by renowned orthopedist Dr. David Altchek, claims that the schedule had nothing to do with it.
I don’t buy it. My theory is that muscles fatigue and neuromuscular synapses don’t fire as quickly when fatigued or unaccustomed to particular conditions. Both Rose and Shumpert sat out portions of the season with injuries. They each had to expedite their returns as the playoffs approached. Recovery time between games was minimal. Rose was probably never at full strength all season and it’s likely that Shumpert broke down slightly from the grind of his first NBA season. I’m not saying that either of these players had a weaker ACL due to the wear and tear of a brutal schedule, but it’s definitely possible that the muscles supporting their knees and the nerves that stimulate those muscles to fire were fatigued or burnt out.
The key to high-level athletic performance is recovery between sessions or games and these guys did not get a chance to recover sufficiently.
It’s impossible to say that their injuries had nothing to do with the schedule. I hope I’m not right, but I won’t be surprised if injuries continue to play a large part in the remainder of the NBA playoffs.