Sportress of Blogitude

James Harden bristles at notion of utilizing load management

The controversy surrounding the Los Angeles Clippers’ handling of Kawhi Leonard and sitting the star out of games under the auspices of load management is perhaps the biggest talker — not to mention point of contentious debate — early on this NBA season.

Every team and player seems to have an opinion on the load management conundrum amid those developments. The latest player to enter the fray is James Harden, and the Houston Rockets superstar made it clear Friday there is no way he’d ever sit out of a game unless a serious injury prevented him from doing so.

“If I’m hurt, of course, I won’t play,” Harden saidj. “Even if I’m a little banged up, I try to push through to a certain extent. Have you ever seen me not play because of load management?”

Harden has remained remarkably healthy as he enters his 11th NBA season, with his season low of 62 appearances coming in 2011-12 when he was still with the Thunder. The lowest number of games Harden played beyond that season came in 2017-18 — his MVP season, incidentally — when he suited up for 72 contests.

With that in mind, perhaps “load management” rest has not been necessary for Harden to stay healthy over an 82-game grind.

It goes without saying that “load management” has become an increasingly polarizing term in the NBA vernacular over the past few seasons, and some old-timers unsurprisingly do not agree with the practice.

While individual teams likely will pursue such wellness and player maintenance strategies as it suits them — under the watchful eye of the NBA, of course — it’s apparent Harden is not buying into the hype. At least not yet.