Karl Malone is one of the most accomplished players in NBA history as the second leading scorer in league history and his durability over his 19 seasons was the stuff of legend.
He played at least 80 games in 17 of his 19 seasons, and throughout his career he played in 95 percent of his possible regular season games which is a true marvel and testament to his ability to stay healthy.
Being that sort of player and an old-school guy in general, as you might assume, Malone is not too fond with the recent trend of NBA teams opting to sit their star players when healthy for regular season games in order for them to get more rest for the postseason and limit wear and tear.
This is what he told Sage Steel of ESPN:
“If you don’t have at least 10 years experience, get your ass playing. It’s not work — it’s called playing. Besides, tell our underpaid service members and police and first responders to rest. They can’t.”
While Malone’s comparison is a little out of left field his point is understood and is valid. These guys are getting paid handsomely to play the game of basketball and for them to take games off when they are capable of doing their job, in theory, potentially reflects poorly to fans of the product, especially those that pay to go to the games. What Malone is missing though is the fact that organizations are making these decisions, not players, and in this instance Kevin Love is coming off of knee surgery and Kyrie Irving had sprained his ankle the game before.
It’s clear teams resting players has increased substantially this season for better or worse and there are positive and negative consequences for these decisions, one of the negative ones is how it affects the league ratings for their Saturday night prime time games.