The NBA brought the data to dispute LeBron James’ claim star players are getting injured because of the quick start to the 2020-21 season and lack of rest.
The 2021 NBA playoffs have been about two things so far: The return of fans to arenas and injuries to star players across every matchup.
When LeBron James went on a Twitter rant about the impact of the NBA schedule on players’ bodies, it made a lot of sense.
The league returned for a full season quickly after the end of last season’s pandemic-delayed postseason. Now Kawhi Leonard, James Harden, Kyrie Irving and others are dealing with injuries keeping them out of playoff action.
But is that really what’s at play with the recent rash of untimely injuries? According to the NBA, the answer is no.
The NBA refutes LeBron James’ claims about injuries
“Injury rates were virtually the same this season as they were during 2019-20 while starter-level and All-Star players missed games due to injury at similar rates as the last three seasons,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in response to James’ comments, via Marc Stein of the New York Times. “While injuries are an unfortunate reality of our game, we recognize the enormous sacrifices NBA players and teams have made to play through this pandemic.”
To be sure, injuries have swept through the playoffs before. The Golden State Warriors can attest to that after an injury-laden 2019 playoffs ending in an NBA Finals loss to the Toronto Raptors. Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant struggled throughout with injuries.
Still, the injury rates don’t completely disprove James’ assertion that the lack of rest is catching up to players. There’s no way to know what the playoffs might have looked like if less was asked of the players.