“Michael Jordan played all 82 games and averaged 37 minutes at age 39!”: Stan van Gundy laments how load management has changed NBA fans’ experience since the Jordan and Kobe Bryant eras

Amulya Shekhar
|Published 07/12/2021

Stan van Gundy noted how times have changed from when Michael Jordan played all 82 games during his final Wizards season.

NBA basketball tends to have more movement today than there used to be ever before. Of course, there was an era of extremely fast semi-transition basketball in the 50s and 60s. But this fast pace didn’t last too long.

Players, coaches and executives alive recognized that ball games couldn’t sustainably be played at breakneck speeds. Offenses slowed down and became more methodical, forcing defenses to evolve at the same time.

Modern NBA basketball, however, is again a lot more transition-focused than before. Early-shot-clock 3-pointers have now become a staple fixture of many stuttering offenses. The consequent increase in pace has coincided with a surge in injuries to star players.

Kawhi Leonard is a prime example of this. The Klaw was on track to become one of the league’s top 10-15 players of all time in San Antonio. However, a degenerative knee condition means that he’s spent the past 5 seasons playing at most 75% of games that year.

By contrast, load management and slowed injury recovery weren’t common practices during the 80s at all. In fact, players tended to play through injuries – Larry Bird famously won 3 MVPs on a bad back.

Load management has caused quite a stir across the spectrum of sports media. Stan van Gundy joined into the conversation with his own take today.

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Stan van Gundy praises Michael Jordan while commenting on the practice of load management

The former Heat, Magic, Pistons and Pelicans head coach has returned to the TNT booth as an announcer. And Stan van Gundy is, as always, dropping pearls of wisdom through his Twitter account.

The former Pistons President of Basketball Operations engaged in a Twitter thread related to load management. Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch had wondered aloud whether the ability to load manage has become a status symbol for NBA teams. Stan agrees:

“Chris Finch is absolutely right. Michael Jordan in his final year in Washington at 39 years old played all 82 games and averaged 37 minutes per game. If you bought a ticket to see Jordan you were going to see Jordan. It was a different world then.”

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Amulya Shekhar

Amulya Shekhar

Amulya Shekhar is a sports junkie who thrives on the thrills and frills of live sports action across basketball, football (the American variant works too), parkour, adventure sports. He believes sports connect us to our best selves, and he hopes to help people experience sports more holistically.

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