The National Basketball Association has endured a number of tough days within the last two weeks. Just yesterday, two head coaches were fired and Phoenix Suns Point Guard Chris Paul was diagnosed with COVID-19. Not to mention, Los Angeles Clippers Forward Kawhi Leonard was ruled out of last night's playoff game against the Utah Jazz with a leg injury that may reportedly be a torn ACL. Paul and Leonard's injuries make them the eighth and ninth NBA All-Stars to miss playoff games this season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is a record for the league.
As the downpour of bad news continued throughout the day, four-time NBA Champion LeBron James chimed in. The Los Angeles Lakers forward believes the league's short turnaround from last season to this season is the leading cause of injuries this season.
Members of the league office were not in agreement with James' statements. Later in the day, NBA spokesman Mike Bass issued a statement to Marc Stein of The New York Times.
"Injury rates were virtually the same this season as they were during the 2019-20 season while starter-level and All-Star players missed games due to injury at similar rates as the last three seasons," Bass said.
"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."
Despite Bass's remarks, it appears that many players are siding with James. The Los Angeles Lakers won the 2020 NBA Finals on October 11, 2020 and the 2020-2021 NBA Regular Season began on December 22. With only 72 days between the end of one season and the beginning of the next, it is by far the shortest off-season in the league's history. Not to mention, several NBA players will be asked to compete in the 2021 Summer Olympic Games before returning for training camp this fall. Given the short off-season and grueling season, NBA stars like Jamal Murray believe that the 2021 NBA Finals will be determined more by health than skill.