Kelly Dwyer at Ball Don't Lie has done a terrific job today of exploring several factors that have led to all the wear-and-tear injuries NBA players are suffering these days.
From LeBron James on down, we're seeing star players banged up and missing games because of the season-long stress put on their bodies by the 82-game schedule and pace of the games. The strength and quickness of today's players has made the game a physical test every night and key players are being lost to injury -- Kevin Love being the latest with a knee surgery that is capping what, for him, has been a lost season due to injuries.
But one factor has been missed, I think, when discussing contributing injury factors. I have an old friend who has been responsible for conditioning NBA players for many seasons and he brought up a point to me a while back that makes a lot of sense.
"It's the off-season stuff these guys are doing," the man told me. "In the old days, we'd send players home after the season and tell them to stay in good shape. And for the most part, they did conditioning stuff, maybe worked on their shot -- things like that. But they didn't play a lot of basketball. They didn't get into the gym and continue to pound their bodies with games.
"They ran, they rode bikes, swam -- just stayed in good condition. I think our players now play too much basketball over the summer. They don't need it. Drill work is one thing -- but these guys get into gyms and play a lot. And when they play they compete -- hard. They can't help it. I don't think it's good for them."
And don't forget, the cream of the crop gets involved with national team games -- be they world championships or Olympics. I'm not sure it wouldn't make sense for NBA players past the age of 25 to tell their national teams to find younger players to represent their countries. I look at players like Pau Gasol, Love, James and so many others who spent the summer getting ready for and then playing in the Olympics and wonder what that does to knees, joints, ankles, hips and feet. Especially over the long haul of a career.
The body of an NBA player needs recovery time in the summer, now more than ever. And for a lot of these players, that's not happening.