Former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant is in favor of shortening the NBA season in order to decrease injuries and increase the importance of regular-season games, he said to ESPN.
“You can’t [just] lose five-to-10 games,” Bryant says. “If you’re going to do it, you’ve almost got to go quality versus quantity. If you’re going to shorten the schedule, then you’ve got to shorten the schedule and look to enhance your TV numbers substantially... because now every regular-season game is worth a s---.”
The thought of the NBA cutting down from 82 games is one that came to Bryant recently, as he began questioning why players seem to be getting injured more often than in the past.
Bryant believes part of the reason is the presence of year-round AAU basketball, meaning players are putting more wear on their bodies from younger ages.
“Looking back, when I grew up, I played soccer until I was about 14,” Bryant said. “And so when I came back to the States [from Italy] when I was 14, that’s when AAU was starting to take off, and I literally played basketball all day, every day, every tournament, everywhere, which does nothing but wear the knee cartilage out—which explains why I didn’t have much cartilage left in 2003.”
Bryant believes another answer to the injury issue is as simple as making games shorter.
“You shorten the games, you shorten the risk for injury and things of that nature,” Bryant said. “It definitely helps.”
Bryant accumulated multiple injuries over his career, including a torn rotator cuff, torn Achilles tendon and fractured knee cap.