Four-time NBA champion Andre Iguodala said the league should never reduce its 82-game regular-season schedule.
Iguodala argued Friday on the Point Forward podcast (via Lee Tran of Fadeaway World) being able to survive the grind of an entire campaign is part of the challenge that separates players at basketball's highest level:
"We gonna keep playing 82 games until 3005. We can't change 82 games. 82 games ... there's a mental side of it. That's why we talk about rookie wall. Records are made to be broken, and as we get better over time we'll break more records. But I do think that there's a foundation in all sports, you have to carry on that tradition... 82 games, I do think you know it separates the men from the boys."
The 2015 NBA Finals MVP pointed to Utah Jazz legend John Stockton, who played all 82 games in 16 different seasons, as an example of what the standard should be:
"The bottom of our league is the bar for the bare minimum the NBA player has lowered. I think that needs to change and the part of this is the mental side of it. We're getting younger and younger, but we had grown-ass men playing in the league. I mean, John Stockton miss what 15 games over 20 years."
The phrase "load management" has become almost synonymous with the NBA. Players regularly take games off throughout the regular season for rest and recovery.
On one hand, it's hard to blame players for trying to reduce their injury risk and attempting to remain as close to 100 percent as possible for the playoffs, which can feature an additional 20-plus games if a team goes the distance.
Yet, the experience takes a serious hit when the sport's biggest names are out of the lineup for non-injury reasons, especially when it comes to road games where opposing fans may only get a chance to see the player in person once a season.
In July, NBA commissioner Adam Silver jokingly blamed San Antonio Spurs CEO R.C. Buford for starting the trend of load management as part of more serious remarks about the issue:
Ben Golliver @BenGolliver
NBA commissioner Adam Silver on load management: “There’s nothing more frustrating also for our fans than having players, frankly, who aren’t injured following some program schedule for rest. I’m looking at [Spurs executive] R.C. [Buford], you started this all.” <a href="https://t.co/AJTyHs4PX4">pic.twitter.com/AJTyHs4PX4</a>
Last December, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the NBA and the Players Association engaged in discussions that would reduce the regular-season schedule to 78 games but add an in-season tournament similar to those in European soccer.
While it would modestly shorten the actual campaign, it's unclear whether it would have any impact on the topic of load management.
A reduction from 82 games would also have an impact on all the records achieved since that length of schedule was established in 1967-68.
Ultimately, while Iguodala is hoping tradition wins out in the end, it appears changes may be on the horizon.