NBA players are normal people. The public often forgets this.
They are just like us in the sense that they like to enjoy vacations with their families, they like to hang out and go out to eat with friends and most importantly, they like to simply have fun on their off-days.
In the offseason, plenty of players make their way into the gym for recreational and entertaining pick-up basketball games, as many of us tend to do at our local park or gym on the weekends in the summer.
This is no different for them.
From New York City to Atlanta to Chicago to Los Angeles to Seattle, there are tons of summer basketball leagues that are held and for years, NBA talents have been participating in these “Pro Am” games/leagues.
Not only do they find enjoyment in showcasing what they can in exciting environments where the games don’t matter, but these have also turned into spectacles for fans who get to go out and see their favorite players just be themselves on the basketball court.
These Pro-Am games and leagues are all about giving back to the community and Dejounte Murray said it best recently when he stated that his mindset and reason to play in these games is, “So these kids who can’t afford to see us be able to see us for free!”
While this mindset is great for the players and their fans, it is a nightmare scenario for NBA front-offices.
Sure, teams trust their players and they give them the freedom to do whatever they want to do in the offseason, trusting them to keep their bodies in shape and be ready for the start of the next season, but these Pro-Am events cause a lot of concern.
Not only are they usually always sold out with people standing on the baselines, creating a hazard for players on the court, but the NBA players that end up participating in these games are going up against regular people who have signed up for this league.
Everyone on these courts and in these leagues are not playing professional basketball, which raises the possibility for getting injured simply due to the competitive nature one plays with.
One could say that the risk of injury when playing basketball is the same whether it is in an NBA game or during practice or during an individual workout, which may be true most of the time, but the fact of the matter here is that the risk for injury is much higher against random people who aren't professional athletes simply due to the fact that they out there to have a good time and be as competitive as possible against the best-of-the-best.
Of course nobody is trying to injure anyone, but the chance of getting injured at these Pro-Am events is definitely higher in the minds of NBA personnel and the recent news surrounding rookie big man Chet Holmgren further proves this.
Holmgren participated in former NBA player Jamal Crawford’s “TheCrawsOver” Pro-Am league last week, with other stars like LeBron James, Dejounte Murray, Jayson Tatum and recent No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero.
So many other NBA talents have played in Crawford’s league through the years and his event is always very successful in Seattle, where the league plays its games at Seattle Pacific University, the same place the WNBA’s Seattle Storm practice.
A day highlighted by LeBron James participating in the event, everything seemed to be going well until it wasn’t.
James stole the ball at midcourt and had a one-on-one fastbreak against this year’s No. 2 overall pick in Holmgren. Going up for the block on James, Holmgren contested the shot well, but when he landed, it appeared as if his foot gave out from under him and the rookie was in a considerable amount of pain as he limped back up the court.
Holmgren was diagnosed with a Lisfranc injury to his right foot recently and will miss the entirety of the 2022-23 NBA season as a result.
Perhaps this was just a freak injury that had occurred and could have occurred to anyone, but the fact of the matter here is that this may have been avoidable.
The city of Seattle had been dealing with some very high temperatures this past weekend when these NBA stars participated in Crawford’s event and the doors to the gym in which these games were played were closed due to the firm alarm being pulled, something Crawford addressed in a tweet later on.
As a result of the alarm being pulled and the gym doors being closed, the floor became slick and slippery and because this is a standard Pro-Am league, they do not have the same arena staff that NBA arenas have to take care of the court and clear moisture that could build up.
We are talking about a basic, ordinary, high-school-like gym that does not receive the same care we are used to seeing before, during and after NBA games.
Many players throughout the day struggled to even dunk because of the lack of traction on the floor and then later on is when Holmgren suffered his foot injury when guarding James.
Are the floor conditions and the Pro-Am league to blame for Chet Holmgren’s injury?
Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t, as injuries in the game of basketball can happen at any moment, even when you are doing individual workouts. However, the conditions in which these games are played are nowhere close to even the pristine conditions of NBA practice facilities and arenas, which is why these Pro-Am leagues are much more of a liability from a team and personal standpoint than they are a reward for the players.
Chet Holmgren will now miss all of the 2022-23 season, a year that would have been his rookie season and a year in which many were projecting Holmgren to be the NBA’s Rookie of the Year. The Oklahoma City Thunder now have to wait a whole year to see what they believe to be a young star take the court and who knows if he will even be the same player after his long recovery process.
Pro-Am tournaments, leagues and games are great, and very enjoyable to go to. If you have never been to one and you are a fan of basketball, they are definitely events you need to try and go to at some point in your life. However, they are quickly turning into a nightmare for NBA owners, teams and front-office executives.
I mean, just imagine if this was LeBron James dealing with a foot injury instead of Chet Holmgren! Not that Holmgren is not a big name in the NBA, but James is one of the faces of the league and him suffering this kind of injury would definitely be detrimental to not only the Los Angeles Lakers and their season, but the league as a whole due to the money they make from LeBron being on the floor each and every night.
This injury to the league’s No. 2 overall pick should be very eye-opening for the NBA. Player safety has always been put at the forefront of everything and while teams cannot necessarily control their players when it comes to things like this or prevent freak injuries from happening, they can definitely lower the risk and chance of injuries happening.
Keeping their players from playing in Pro-Am leagues minimizes the chance for catastrophic injuries like this one to Holmgren.