Wizards forward Markieff Morris has weighed both sides of the debate around resting players in the NBA and does not believe it should be a big deal for guys to take a night off every once in a while.
Strong opinions have been shared from both sides, including from Morris' teammate John Wall, who told CSN recently that he thinks the game has gotten "softer." Morris, though, can see why taking a night off might make sense every once in a while.
"For me, it just depends on what your body tells you, man. It's a long and brutal season," Morris said. "For us, last week we had like three back-to-backs or something like that with a day in between to rest. It gets tough. For a player like LeBron [James], I can understand that. You've played more minutes than [Michael] Jordan and all those guys. It's like one game here and there, it won't hurt."
Morris is right that LeBron has logged more minutes than Jordan. Despite being 32 and likely with a few more years left in the NBA, LeBron has already played 49,341 minutes in 1,252 games including the playoffs across 14 seasons. Jordan played 48,485 minutes in 1,251 games across 15 seasons. That means, coincidentally, that on Saturday night against the Wizards LeBron officially passed Jordan in games played.
Jordan, according to Steve Clifford, the coach he employs as owner of the Charlotte Hornets, does not believe in resting players. And he is not alone, as other legends from his generation like Charles Barkley and Karl Malone have weighed in with strong opinions on the matter.
Morris thinks those guys need to chill out and understand that this isn't the 1980s and 90s.
"That's the old school, man. At the end of the day I've got the utmost respect for those guys. They paved the way for us, but it's different now, man. The league is different. A lot of things have changed since back in the day. You've gotta adjust with that. It just is what it is."
Morris was referring to advancements in sports science and training methods. The decision to rest a player is often made with the consultation of a team's medical staff and, as Gregg Popovich has argued, they are trying to preserve players and extend their careers.
Though Morris picks that side in the argument, he doesn't advocate for players to rest often. He knows doesn't think players should abuse the practice.
"You get your chance to play. When you ain't on the court, it's tough. This is our livelihood. This is what we do. You can never take the game for granted," he said.