NBA players are at risk of injury in offseason games, but that shouldn’t stop them from playing

Oklahoma City Thunder rookie Chet Holmgren, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, will miss the entirety of his rookie season after suffering a Lisfranc injury to his right foot. The injury occurred in a CrawsOver Pro-Am game and once again ignited conversations about whether NBA players should play in summer leagues, casual games or engage in professional activities.

Consider this my plea to players, whether they’re veterans, rookies or something in between: don’t stop playing in the offseason.

Obviously the injury is incredibly devastating and I feel sorry for Holmgren. The 20-year-old center/forward with guard grips and range outside of Gonzaga is widely regarded as a generational talent and was already one of the favorites to win Rookie of the Year honors.

This is also incredibly unfortunate for the Thunder, who had been putting together a wildly intriguing roster of high picks in the draft and it looked like this could finally be a year where they could start trying to win games and see what they’re capable of. Now, his rebuilding schedule will be pushed back a year.

Hardly had the sweat dried off players’ faces in the game in which Holmgren was injured when shots began to make their way into the basketball world.

Why was Holmgren playing in a CrawsOver game? LeBron James was there too, why are these guys risking injury for these goofy displays? This will scare players away from the pro-am circuits.

From the beginning, I want to say that basketball players should play basketball. That’s what they do, that’s what they love to do, that’s what they’re better at than anyone else and that’s what keeps them getting better.

Naturally, there is a risk of injury everywhere, especially when playing basketball. NBA players get injured at their own practice facility all the time, and that’s the most controlled environment they’re in. They are at risk of slipping and falling in a wet spot in their own kitchen and we certainly are not. Players will not be required to remain in a hermetically sealed bubble every time they are not on their team’s playing court.

I realize that playing basketball in the off-season is different than standing in a kitchen, but this is a conversation that happens almost every year at this point due to international NBA players getting injured playing for their national teams or the risks they take when they play. in the Drew League, CrawsOver, Miami Pro League, Powder League or any other exhibition showcase.

To fully understand how these things play out, you need to know that there are already plenty of rules that govern what NBA players can do in the offseason.

When players play for national teams, whether in Eurobasket, Olympic qualifying or any other iteration, those leagues must carry insurance for NBA players to offset the risk of injury.

For non-national team play, any pro or exhibition game, there are certain leagues that are sanctioned by the NBA and those include the Drew League, which is played in Los Angeles, and the CrawsOver games which are played in Seattle. But there are also individual contract stipulations that matter.

A standard NBA contract restricts many activities an NBA player can do other than playing and practicing with the team. But it is quite common for a player to have a Schedule 5, which is basically a clause that allows a player to play basketball in the off-season, informal games or do other types of training away from team personnel. This is commonly known as the “love of the game” clause and was largely made famous after Michael Jordan’s own Exhibit 5 allowed him to play basketball whenever and wherever he wanted.

But, without a Schedule 5 clause, a standard NBA contract requires prior written permission from a team for a player to participate in any off-season basketball exhibition or activity. Though league sources said players sometimes just don’t listen to what they’re told to do, and rules are often loosely enforced.

For example, LeBron James probably isn’t asking permission to do anything, and the Lakers probably wouldn’t punish him for playing in pro-am games. For a lesser-known player, playing in an unauthorized league like the Utah Powder League could be risky. But the exposure could outweigh the risk, depending on who you ask.

For the sake of another example, let’s say Holmgren hypothetically played in CrawsOver games without the Thunder’s permission. Well, if they didn’t care about Holmgren’s future or weren’t interested in having a potential generational talent on their team, they could find him in breach of his contract or simply write him off after he suffered a season-ending injury. . But the Thunder will gladly take him seriously and wait another year for Holmgren. He is not being given up by anyone. So the state matters.

And it is particularly the status of the players who show up for these summer showcases that makes them so unique and important.

Basketball fans can’t always see basketball up close. But NBA players aren’t compensated for their professional appearances and those games are usually free to the public on a first-come, first-served basis or incredibly affordable.

This summer, fans were able to watch LeBron James and DeMar DeRozan dress up together in the Drew League for free. Fans watched Donovan Mitchell throw noteworthy dunks in Miami for free. Fans in Seattle saw Holmgren and James struggling on the play where Holmgren was injured and also saw many other basketball heroes and rising stars for absolutely nothing.

People deserve these moments after years in which the NBA has put a price on the average fan, and fear of injury shouldn’t be the guiding factor. This is why the Schedule 5 clause is known as the “love of the game” clause and not the “maybe if I’m not too scared I’ll get hurt” clause.

Die-hard hoopers love to play in these displays just as much as amateurs love to watch them. That’s why Jamal Crawford, retired NBA player, three-time Sixth Man of the Year winner and self-proclaimed basketball addict, took over the CrawsOver Pro-Am in Seattle and renamed it.

People who love basketball don’t just love it from October to June.

National team play continues to bring the game of basketball to every corner of the world and these professional leagues not only give fans a glimpse of the biggest names in the NBA, but also highlight male and female college players. venues, as well as the male and female players. area high school teams.

Could the NBA try to put tougher language into contracts and prevent players from playing in the offseason? Yes, he could. Could players start to shy away from professional appearances for fear of getting injured? They absolutely could. But I hope they don’t, for the love of the game.

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