The load management debates in the NBA don’t seem to be going anywhere, anytime soon.
This discussion has led to the question of why load management may be necessary for many players and among other things, one reason many point to is the effect the AAU basketball circuit has on young players. All of the top prospects participate in AAU these days and the amount of games these kids play is rather staggering.
James has never been one to shy away from of these topics and in an interview with Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, he lit into the AAU circuit and believes head coaches don’t care about their players:
“These kids are going into the league already banged up, and I think parents and coaches need to know [that] … well, AAU coaches don’t give a f- – -,” James told Yahoo Sports. “AAU coaches couldn’t give a damn about a kid and what his body is going through.”
James is even witnessing it firsthand now with his sons, Bronny and Bryce James, participating in the system and he is very conscious on making sure they don’t wear themselves out:
“I think [AAU] has something to do with it, for sure,” James told Yahoo Sports. “It was a few tournaments where my kids — Bronny and Bryce — had five games in one day and that’s just f- – -ing out of control. That’s just too much. And there was a case study where I read a report. I don’t know who wrote it not too long ago, and it was talking about the causes and [kid’s] bodies already being broken down and they [attributed] it to AAU basketball and how many games that these tournaments are having for the [financial benefit]. So, I’m very conscious for my own son because that’s all I can control, and if my son says he’s sore or he’s tired, he’s not playing.”
It is an interesting argument that seems to have some credence. With players from previous generations constantly playing over 40 minutes nearly every game, many ask why today’s players need rest despite having much better access to advanced health and recovery options.
The AAU circuit is what many point to as the reason as these kids play hundreds of games at a young age, putting a ton of wear and tear on their bodies before they ever reach the NBA.
While it may be unfair to paint every person and head coach involved in the AAU as not caring about the well-being of the players, evaluating whether the system is best for those involved might be necessary and without a doubt, James sounds as if he would be a proponent of that.