Why are NBA stars missing so many games?

Michael Benatar

April 5,2021


The NBA has a problem. In a Covid-era where it's just now, 13 months later, somewhat safe to leave your home, the league's nightly schedule should be a shining beacon of entertainment.

But as someone wise once said, "Your greatest ability is your availability." And in the 2020-21 NBA season, NBA stars are not available.

As of April 14, 2021, most NBA teams had played 54 games this season. 

But here's how many games the league's top 10 stars appeared in:

LeBron James - 41 (76% of his team's games)
Kevin Durant - 22 (40%)
Giannis Antetokounmpo - 45 (83%)
Stephen Curry - 46 (85%)
Kawhi Leonard - 45 (83%)
Anthony Davis - 23 (42%)
Luka Doncic - 48 (88%)
Joel Embiid - 36 (66%)
Kyrie Irving - 38 (70%)


The highest number on the list, Doncic appeared in 88% of the Mavericks games. Not bad, but why is that the highest on the list? 

What if the the star QB who stayed the healthiest of all QBs all year, played in 88% of his team's games?

What if MLB superstars Ronald Acuna Jr. or Fernando Tatis Jr. were healthy but only played 88% of the time?

Or worse, what if most QBs or any other team sport stars played 40-70% of their games like most NBA players?

In no other profession is showing up to work "sometimes" acceptable. Sure there are injuries. The Lakers stars have fallen victim, for example. But it's not universal. So what is the overall reason here? And what is being done about it?

Because the consumer is not paying 40-70% less per ticket to an NBA game. Or 40-70% less for their NBA League Pass subscription. Or 40-70% less for the sports package on their cable bill or streaming subscription.

Go back before covid began and remember the issues around trying to afford to bring a family of 4 to a pro sports game. The tickets, the concessions, the parking. It's out of control. But those price increases are going straight into the players pockets. Pockets that are often sitting at home on the couch, instead of on the court.

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