The 2020-21 season has featured plenty of ups and downs due to navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite that, the league managed to reach the NBA Finals, but it came with strong criticism from Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James. Phoenix Suns star Chris Paul has finally responded to the chatter that saw him throw his longtime friend under the bus.
LeBron James criticizes the NBA’s 2020-21 season schedule
As the 2021 playoffs move along, a considerable part of the discussion remains on the number of significant injuries.
It has featured many of the game’s best talent sidelined by ailments, leading James to vent on Twitter his frustrations with the 2020-21 regular-season schedule. The four-time league MVP aired his strong feelings, pinpointing the start of the campaign being too early after the Orlando Bubble situation from last year.
“They all didn’t wanna listen to me about the start of the season. I knew exactly what would happen,” James wrote. “I only wanted to protect the well-being of the players which ultimately is the PRODUCT & BENEFIT of OUR GAME! These injuries isn’t just “PART OF THE GAME”. It’s the lack of PURE.
“RIM REST rest before starting back up. 8, possibly 9 ALL-STARS has missed Playoff games(most in league history). This is the best time of the year for our league and fans but missing a ton of our fav players. It’s insane. If there’s one person that knows about the body and how it works all year round it’s ME! I speak for the health of all our players and I hate to see this many injuries this time of the year. Sorry fans wish you guys were seeing all your fav guys right now.”
James’ opinion is likely further fueled by the first-hand experience with teammate Anthony Davis’ struggle to move through the regular season after coming off the shortest offseason in league history for a defending NBA champion. Meanwhile, several other prominent players aside from Davis suffered injuries in the playoffs, such as Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Trae Young, and Donovan Mitchell.
It didn’t take long for the noise to finally come back around to the NBPA president to issue a response.
Chris Paul just threw LeBron James under the bus without mentioning his name
Any time James voices a strong opinion concerning an NBA matter, it quickly becomes an attention-grabbing subject.
During Chris Paul’s media availability on Monday before Game 1 of the NBA Finals, he voiced that the players played a big part in determining the 2020-21 season start date.
“Man, one thing about our league and its players is everything is always a conversation,” Paul said. “There’s a ton of guys on the executive committee who are working hard on things right now as we speak — day in and day out, traveling. I wish you guys knew all the things that are going on. So decisions that are made as far as playing or not playing, players are always involved in it.
“Injuries are always unfortunate. You hate to have them. But just like when we went to the bubble, everything was discussed as far as the players and the full body of players. Everything that’s good for this guy and that guy might not be the same for that guy, but everything has always been a conversation and it’s going to continue to be that way. So if people don’t like it, then you know everybody has the same opportunity to be a part of all these conversations.”
Paul’s comments clearly state the players hold a decisive say in any league discussion. Last year’s Orlando Bubble situation featured the 36-year-old acting on behalf of the players to orchestrate the scenario to finish the season.
James’ opinion may hold credence, but the 2020-21 season start date last December came after plenty of discussion between the players and the league. Ultimately, if the four-time NBA MVP wants his voice heard more, Paul just laid out how he can do that.
NBA will learn and adjust from the 2020-21 season
The criticism aside, the 2020-21 season was always destined to become a battle of attrition due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Regardless of when the players and the league chose to start the campaign, it would be a short offseason for teams that played in the Orlando Bubble. Some franchises were impacted differently due to deep playoff runs, but it was an unavoidable hurdle.
If anything, it’s a learning experience for the entire NBA moving forward that will likely see more player involvement.