NBA Commissioner Adam Silver introduced tougher rules on load management, emphasizing the importance of fans and competitive integrity in ensuring that healthy players are expected to play.

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Slocum – Scanpix
Credit AP Photo/Matt Slocum – Scanpix

In a recent strategic move aimed at keeping their top players on the court, the NBA has introduced more stringent regulations for teams regarding the rest and management of their All-Star players during the season, a practice often referred to as "load management."

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver emphasized that this decision was primarily driven by a commitment to the fans and an acknowledgment that load management had been taken to extremes.

"This is ultimately about the fans," he underlined. "And that we've taken this [load management] too far. This is an acknowledgment that it has gotten away from us a bit."

Silver highlighted that the new Player Participation Policy (PPP) was the result of collaboration among various stakeholders within the league, including team owners, management, coaches, the National Basketball Players Association, and specific players.

Speaking to reporters following two days of Board of Governors meetings in New York, the commissioner added, "That doesn't mean we were turning the clock back, that players are expected to play through injuries or that players never need rest. But there's a statement of a principle in this league that, if you're a healthy player, you're going to play."

In recent seasons, NBA stars and their teams have often attempted to minimize injuries and the potential number of missed games by strategically resting players.

Yet, the intentional decision to bench a healthy star player has had repercussions on the league's integrity, with TV viewers and arena fans feeling deprived of the teams and gameplay they expected to see.

Silver described this new ruling as a "changed approach to reinforcing the notion that we're an 82-game league."

In April, the league established a minimum appearance requirement for players to be eligible for major annual awards and honors, mandating that they participate in at least 65 of the 82 regular-season games.

Beginning this 2023-24 season, the new PPP mandates that teams:

  • Rest no more than one star player from a game. (For purposes of the restrictions, a "star player" is defined as someone who has been an All-Star or an All-NBA selection in any of the past three seasons. It also will impact for the balance of the schedule players named to that season's All-Star teams.)
  • Make star players available for nationally televised games and In-Season Tournament games.
  • Balance the number of one-game "rest" absences a star player accrues in home games vs. road games, with a recommendation that a player more often sit out at home.
  • Refrain from any long-term "shutdown" when a star stops participating in games or appears only in a materially reduced role that could affect the integrity of the game.
  • Have any healthy players resting for a game present and visible to fans.
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