The LA Lakers rested LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the front end of a back-to-back during their 121-104 loss against the Brooklyn Nets. Their absence enraged NBA fans who bought tickets months before the game, hoping to see the superstars in action.
One of the fans in attendance left a sign in the stands, suggesting that the NBA should shorten the season due to the increase in load management due to the tight schedule. Here's an image of the sign (via Erik Slater):
The Lakers will play another playoff contender on the other side of the back-to-back, the New York Knicks. Every team in the league is preserving their superstars based on win probabilities. Additionally, it's not always load management that comes in the way.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis have both sustained injuries this season and have played through them. According to the LA Lakers coach, the former is experiencing significant soreness in his left foot, so playing back-to-back games was certainly not an option.
Meanwhile, Davis has just returned from a foot injury that sidelined him for five-and-a-half weeks. He played two games on minute restrictions off the bench upon his return and wasn't advised to play in back-to-back games just yet.
Load management debate picks up as LeBron James and Anthony Davis miss marquee game against Nets
The NBA community has a divided opinion over load management. The absence of stars in certain games has a question mark on their willingness to play every game. However, there are many factors contributing to players' absences.
It's not necessarily the players opting to rest, but the teams and medical staff are scheduling their absences to maximize their health throughout the season. ESPN's Richard Jefferson and Stephen A. Smith shed light on the matter, blaming the franchises for their load management tactics.
Here's what Jefferson said about this:
"I blame the teams, I blame the training staff because the players in this generation are doing more of what they are told, than going out there and leaving it all out on the floor.
Smith claimed that players have told him they want to play, but have to sit out games due to the demands of the organization's management. Here's what he said:
"There are teams that are encouraging players to do this as well. You have management and ownership bringing their heavy hand down upon strength and conditioning coaches, trainers etc... And keeping players out as well time to time. I've had several players tell me that."
The NBA is also scrutinized for scheduling marquee games as back-to-back sets. That was the situation with the LA Lakers, facing the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks in one of those instances. The Lakers could've had either LeBron James or Anthony Davis or both players in action against Brooklyn if they weren't scheduled to take on the Knicks on the back end of a back-to-back.