The NBA world was in uproar yet again on Saturday as the Cleveland Cavaliers decided to rest LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving in a marquee, national televised game against the Los Angeles Clippers. During the game, ABC’s Jeff Van Gundy went on an epic rant about Cleveland’s Big 3 resting, which the Cavs lost 108-78, and the NBA even called GM David Griffin to complain about the team’s decision.
Players resting for entire games when healthy has become a trend in recent years and the NBA has tried to curb this practice by reducing the number of back-to-backs. Yet with teams ultra focused on their stars players being healthy for the postseason, resting will likely continue to happen. However, don’t expect Rockets All-Star James Harden to be sitting out any of Houston’s final games of the season. Harden hasn’t missed a game this season and doesn’t plan to.
From the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen:
“I’m a hooper,” Harden said. “I just want to hoop. I’ll rest when I’m done. I feel like my teammates and organization need me to go out there and do what I do. I get obviously paid for it, but it’s something I love. I enjoy the grind. I enjoy how hard it is. I think that makes you tougher. That makes you who you are.”
Harden added he does not want Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni to order him to take a break.
“Mike knows not to come at me with that,” Harden said.
Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni is personally not a fan of resting players so it is not surprising to hear Harden adopt his coach’s philosophy. Also, Harden sounds like most players here, as players (including LeBron and company) usually want to play and only begrudgingly agree to rest.
But teams make players rest since it is in their best interest, and with stars playing heavy minutes (Harden is averaging 36.5 minutes game, good for eighth in the league), a day off can sometimes do wonders for a player’s health and longevity. However, as Feigen notes, Harden is averaging the least amount of minutes in his five seasons with the Rockets, so perhaps his workload isn’t too heavy of a burden for him this season and is the reason why he doesn’t want to sit out any games to rest.