With the playoffs right around the corner and the regular season winding down, the NBA has lately been dominated by the debate around resting superstar players. The Warriors did it recently in a nationally televised game against the Spurs. Then, the Cavs rested Lebron James and then Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love on other occasions.
Former players like Karl Malone and Charles Barkley have weighed in. John Wall even said the league has gotten softer. And since league commissioner Adam Silver has vowed to fix what he sees as a major problem for the sport.
Wizards head coach Scott Brooks comes from Malone and Barkley's era, as a 10-year NBA player who entered the league in 1988. Now he is a coach, so he can relate to both generations.
On Wednesday he shared his thoughts in depth on the issue and, though he understands the practice, has little sympathy for players who want to rest just to rest.
"There's certain cases and certain examples and certain players that probably need it. But that's very rare in my opinion," he said. "You're talking basketball. It's 32 minutes a night. This is not hard work. This is fun. Rest, to me rest is a good night sleep. I've seen coaches and players do it in the beginning of the season or after the All-Star break. To me, rest is a good night's rest and taking care of your body and being prepared to play. Hard work is a lot of things that a lot of other people do that are not athletes and coaches. It's hard to do and we're all blessed and privileged. But the rest thing is blown out of proportion, in my opinion. You're talking about a game that we love."
For Brooks, it is simple. He wants players to do their job.
"I think we're all obligated to earn our keep. We all sign contracts to play games and play as many minutes as the coach wants you to play. I think it's important. I don't know what has changed. Obviously, when I played you didn't sit out games. You didn't even sit out practices. There was a lot of trash talking if you sat out a practice. You didn't want to be called those names. So, you took pride. You can imagine some of the names: soft and Charmin, there's all kinds of [names]. I'm going to keep it PG. I've read comments on how much [technology and training methods] have these days and you want rest on top of that? Some players need it. There's no question."
All of this even inspired Brooks to bring up a 'back in my day' story from his playing career. And it's a good one.
"I wouldn't say that players were tougher. They weren't given options. We weren't given options. We weren't given the option to take practice off. Our practices were long," he said. "I'm pretty good [these days]. My knees are hurting, my back is aching and my elbows hurt, my ankles hurt. But I wouldn't change anything. I loved what I did. I loved to compete. I had toothaches twice and I wanted to play the game, so I told the dentist to take them out. He said 'you're going to have trouble when you're 75 and trying to chew.' I said 'I'll worry about that then. I did do that. But that was nothing."