Star players are getting their last “rest” games in before the 2017 NBA playoffs officially start, in another year where the “rest” debate was brought up multiple times throughout the six-month-plus schedule.
“I’m not taking anything away from the new era or the way things go now, but I could never, ever, ever sit out a game if something wasn’t broke or I just simply couldn’t play,” Basketball Hall of Fame guard Allen Iverson said to Philadelphia 76ers fans during a team ceremony for him earlier this season. “Because I thought about y’all and y’all wanted to see me.”
“Me personally, I think it’s for us to be better down the stretch,” Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green said when head coach Steve Kerr decided to bench him and three other Warriors stars for a game against the San Antonio Spurs on March 11.
Do these games of rest actually benefit the average NBA star in the long run, though? Here are four active players over 35 who are defying the theory.
4. Joe Johnson
The 35-year-old guard has still contributed to a Western Conference playoff team in the Utah Jazz this season. Since 2002, there’s only been one season during which he played less than 60 games, which was because of a calf injury. From 2005 to 2008, Johnson remained constant as one of the league’s leaders in minutes played per game.
3. Kyle Korver
The sharpshooter experienced a breakthrough when he was traded in December from the Atlanta Hawks to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Only three days away from his 36th birthday, Korver, who has played in over 1,000 games in his career, plays an essential role to one of the exclusive championship contenders in the league.
2. Dirk Nowitzki
The newest member of the 30,000 point club is still the third-leading scorer on the lone squad of his career, the Dallas Mavericks. The 38-year-old, who has played in over 1,300 regular season games in his career, plans to return for a 20th season.
1. Vince Carter
The oldest player in the league is still dunking for the Memphis Grizzlies. On March 13, Carter became the only 40-year-old in NBA history to make six three-pointers in a game and the sixth 40-year-old to score at least 20 points in a game. Despite having a few injured-filled seasons, Carter is still closing in on playing over 1,000 career regular season games and he looks like he can play another two years of basketball.
All four of these players played on teams that made deep postseason runs and participated in international competitions at some point in their careers, too. Despite the multiple rest games Golden State and Cleveland were given during the year, players still appeared exhausted and banged up during the 2016 Finals series. No matter how much you prepare to prevent it, players are going to be hurt and tired playing deep into June. There has been no overruling evidence that this rest has an immediate impact on the athlete’s performance during that same season, or even when they turn 40.