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NBA AM: Injuries Are Unavoidable

Injuries are a part of the game, but did the way Kevin Durant plays contribute to his foot injury?

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Injuries Happen:  There is really no way to avoid injuries in sports. It’s part of playing the game. You can train, rehab and try to be preventive, but bodies break down. The wear and tear gets everyone eventually.

The fact that Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant has stayed as healthy as he has given the tremendous amount of minutes he’s played is impressive.

Durant, in his seven NBA seasons, has logged 20,717 regular season minutes and 3,090 playoff minutes for a total of 23,807 minutes. That’s a massive workload, especially for a guy that’s posted 16,960 points in that same span. Said another way, that’s 11,899 shot attempts.

Durant’s closest peer in the minutes played department is Cleveland’s LeBron James, who has logged 33,276 regular season minutes and 6,717 playoff minutes for a total of 39,993 minutes played in 11 seasons. James has put up 23,170 regular season points and 4,419 playoff points for a total of 27,589 points in his career. Said another way, James has put up 19,915 shots.

Divide those out into a per season number and Durant has averaged 3,401 minutes per season, 2,422.8 points (including postseason) and 1,699.8 shots. James’ numbers average out to 2,508 minutes per season, 2,508 points (including postseason) and 1,810.4 shots.

When the news of Durant’s foot injury broke a few skill trainers that work with NBA players in the offseason reached out with some comments that rang true.

The most important thing is that Durant’s injury was likely due to excessive use. Durant has logged a lot of miles and minutes and this very type of injury is something players risk. Durant took a tremendous amount of criticism for leaving Team USA abruptly this summer, but this kind of injury is exactly why players have to weigh how much they can play not only when it comes to internationally, but the amount of exhibition and promotional basketball they do in the offseason.

Durant’s injury was also compounded by the way he plays. As one trainer pointed out, Durant’s game includes the use of hard jabs, violent changes and stop motions. One trainer pointed out that when they instruct players about jabs and jab fakes, they want a violent jab, which you can feel in your foot and your legs.

These violent jabs help sell the fake to the opposition because it needs to look and feel like to you are exploding away.

“With the amount that [Durant] stutter jabs, jabs and steps back along with his go to off dribble moves being freeze violent right left step ins, he will need a significant healing process to get back to his scoring ways without having a heightened chance of re-injury,” said one trainer.

Another trainer cautioned on trying to rush Durant back too quickly, noting that the violent nature of his jab step could cause re-injury, especially given the nature of a Jones fracture, which is a small crack in an area of the foot that does not get a lot of blood flow, which is needed for the healing process.

While neither trainer works with Durant, they both work with a number of high profile NBA players and have helped them return to form from far worse injuries.

Both agreed that Durant should be able to recovery fully based on what they know of the injury, but warn, that coming back without limitations from this kind of injury could take a while given how Durant plays.

Considering Durant really hasn’t missed any significant time in his seven NBA seasons, it’s possible this rest could be good for him considering the miles he’s already logged.

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Remember It’s a Business First:  As fans and fanatics of basketball sometimes it’s easy to forget that the game and the competitive part, you know the part you care about, is simply the bait to get your attention and more importantly your money. That’s not to say that owners or more importantly the NBA don’t care about the game, its simply that making the game better is about making the business stronger.

After all it is a business.

For the last two years the NBA and its teams have been flirting with changes to the game jersey, with things like sleeves and new this year: The re-location of logo elements such as the NBA logo mark being moved to the back instead of being on the front right corner.

The concept of ads on NBA jerseys has been floated for a while, and most see sleeves as an easy transition to ads, as the sleeves create more real estate for it.

According to John Ourand and John Lombardo of the Sports Business Daily, not only are ads on jersey coming, it seems the league’s broadcast partners tried to secure the rights to sell the ads on jerseys as part of their new mega-broadcast deal, something the NBA walked away from.

However, according to Sports Business Daily, Turner Broadcasting did get a small concession on this front, and that was the right to sell “on jersey” ads for the 2017 NBA All-Star Game jersey, which will likely be the test case for the process.

The NBA, namely Commissioner Adam Silver, has been asked numerous times about ads on jerseys and while the league isn’t rushing to install ads, there is inevitability to it, simply because of how much money can be generated from it.

Equally, with the broadcast partners pushing for it, there is increased likelihood that inside the span of this new TV deal that ads on jerseys are part of bigger NBA-wide ad buys.

Why would the TV partners want ads on jerseys? Because they can demand huge broadcast ad package guarantees as part of the bigger deal. The structure of a deal like this almost eliminates smaller brands, and what’s more likely is a large mega-brand like Samsung or Coke-Cola win out on something like this. So you won’t see Bob’s Tire Barn on a Laker jersey, but a Samsung logo becomes very realistic.

The NBA’s WNBA has had ads on their jerseys for some time, and it’s likely that on-jersey ads will make their way to the D-League too.

As much as fans seem to hate this idea, “on jersey” ads have been a part of the Soccer world for years, and depending on how it’s done, some of the jerseys become more interesting because of the sponsor.

It’s not happening tomorrow, but it is inevitable that ads on jerseys are coming. The questions are when does it happen, and who ponies up the dollars to win that real estate because it’s not going to come cheap.

Remember, it’s a business first.

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Steve Kyler is the Editor and Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA and basketball for the last 17 seasons.

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