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The Boston Celtics signed both Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving in the off-season with the hope of going all the way to the NBA Finals and beyond. Hayward was injured in his first game as s a Celtic and only has a slight chance of returning for the playoffs. The team awaits word on Irving's post-surgery status and his availability for the remainder of the season and playoffs. Marcus Smart is out after thumb surgery and may return sometime during the playoffs. Daniel Theis is out of action for the season following surgery for a meniscal tear.

Why all the injuries for the Celtics and other NBA teams? Here are the theories:


1.) Season is too long with too many games
With 82 regular-season games, a possible 28 playoff games, Summer League play and pre-season games, this possibility can not be excluded. There is little time for recovery, and the constant pounding these athletes take on the court, fatigue sets in, and so do the injuries.

2.) High-level athleticism leads to increased injuries
What goes up must come down. What goes fast must slow down and stop. Here is SI's Tim S. Grover's excellent analysis on that factor:

​Also overlooked: the ability to stop. Everyone wants to go fast and hard, but without the ability to decelerate, what happens? Eventually you crash. Any racecar driver can go at top speed, but elite drivers know when to speed up, when to slow down, when to stop. Explosiveness without the ability to decelerate will almost always result in injury. To me, it’s one of the most critical elements of effective training. But how many athletes want to learn to slow down and stop? It’s not sexy. But it’s essential. If your training program doesn’t teach you to decelerate in a lift or a movement, you’re only doing half the work.

3.) Injuries sustained in the NBA have origins in childhood sports
It may start early. Parents determine the sport in which their kids excel and their early training focused on that one sport may set the kids up for injuries. Once again, SI's Tim S. Grover, and I strongly suggest readers take in the entire article by Grover:

At the earliest ages, a child’s undeveloped body isn’t prepared for the punishing physical demands of intense athletic activity. Kids are designed to be active, to play, to use their entire bodies—not to work on the same move over and over and over. Yet the competition to be the best—to get above the rim, to throw a complete game, to lift the most weight—has created a generation of young athletes with chronic injuries and pain that they’ll deal with for the rest of their lives.

And while most young athletes finish their careers by the end of high school or maybe college, those elite few who continue into professional sports already have more than a decade of wear and tear on their bodies. So by the time they turn pro, there’s a good chance they’re already dealing with the early stages of injuries, some of which will be serious, even career-ending. All these rookies with injuries... they’re still kids.


There you have it. I still don't know who the hell Janos is (above tweet), but I do know Grover is a world-renowned authority on sports performance, and it is rare that I read something on the subject that truly impresses me as his article did. The reasons for the NBA injuries include all of the above - and more. The NBA has become big business. The injuries take root in childhood, continue through grade school, high school and college and finally into the pros where the pace is rapid with little time for rest and recovery.

Resting NBA players towards the final-half of the regular season is frowned upon
by many fans, but maybe it shouldn't be. Most of the players make big money, but they still have other lives, both during and after their playing days. They need a break.

Follow Tom at @TomLaneHC

Photo via Omar Rawlings/Getty Images




Tom Lane 3/24/2018 06:33:00 AM Edit
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