This week, Lebron James came out and said he doesn’t need preseason, and in how pro athletes work in 2018, he is 100% correct.
Once upon a time, professional athletes weren’t just athletes. They had other careers that sustained their livelihoods. So when some early NHL, MLB, NBA and NFL players stepped off the field, court or Ice at the end of the season they didn’t do anything related to their sport for the entirety of the offseason. They’d smoke, eat, get out of shape in general, and not really work on their craft over the offseason.
The advancement of modern medicine, nutrition, and fitness have truly elevated and changed the way professional sports have been played. Lebron James and others don’t leave basketball for an offseason and not pick up a basketball, or work out. Athletes like Lebron spend the entire offseason getting more and more in shape and spend countless hours getting better and working on their craft. The need for weeks, even months, of the preseason is antiquated and unneeded.
Lebron James knows what he needs, and he also knows exactly what is expected of him. For all intents and purposes, Lebron plays an 82 game pre-season to get loaded up for the playoffs. The only thing that matters to his legacy is Titles. We all know he’s going to be the best statistical player of all time, now he’s chasing the ghost of Micheal Jordan. Lebron does exactly what he has to, to get his body into perfect condition to play forever, and win playoff games. That is it.
Look at how different he is compared to other all-time basketball players. Kobe and Larry Bird were absolute practise fiends, and by the end of their careers their bodies broke down. Magic career came to an unfortunate close early, and Micheal Jordan retired to play another sport, partied hard, gambled harder, and played a relatively short career. Lebron wants to play forever and win titles and nothing else matters.
Preseason professional sports are one of two things, they are entirely too long and should be shortened, or they are completely meaningless and at its current state is a cash grab from billionaire owners and leagues to sell you on a product you’ve been starved of for 5 months. Every league would be better served to eliminate the preseason or drastically shorten it for one reason or another.
The NBA is constantly fighting a controversy where star players are sitting out in favour of rest. Imagine shortening the preseason and having an extra 14 days off built into the regular schedule for rest and rehab. The NHL could do something similar and build in off days, or they could just start early with an identical schedule and stop forcing the playoffs to run into June. The NFL could build in more than 1 bye week, they could play more regular season games, which I know the owners love the opportunity to get more revenue.
Preseason sports are terrible, and I can’t blame any player for wanting to sit out it. Especially when that star player is a generational talent, but honestly, it doesn’t take being the best ever to be correct in the stance Lebron is taking.