While much of the media criticizes NBA players for creating the league’s load management problem, Nick Wright conversely says it’s the media who deserves blame.
Fresh off NBA All-Star Weekend, the reaction to this season’s event has been more about the lack of All-Star participation than it was a celebration of the league’s best players. Saturday night’s dunk contest, which used to be the weekend’s premier event, featured no All-Stars, and Sunday’s game was dubbed the “worst basketball game ever played” by Team LeBron coach Michael Malone.
The All-Star Game seemingly fell victim to the growing “load management” trend in the NBA, as healthy players continue to be more concerned with being well-rested for the playoffs than they are about participating in regular season games or exhibition contests. But as the media criticizes NBA players for ruining All-Star Weekend and skipping out on regular season games, Fox Sports host Nick Wright is faulting the media for putting too much emphasis on championships.
“That’s what all of sports commentary has become and then we act shocked when the players act accordingly.”
— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) February 20, 2023
“The media is going to spend all day echoing those sentiments and crushing the players while taking no personal responsibility for where we are at across sports in all exhibition games,” Wright said Monday afternoon while filling in for Colin Cowherd. “And in the NBA in particular where the dunk contest, no one wants to participate, the All-Star Game, no one wants to try. Hell, regular season games, you don’t know who’s gonna play and who’s not gonna play.”
According to Wright, the players are a “symptom, not the cause” of the load management trend and the All-Star Game becoming a mocked product. Wright explained that the NBA All-Star Game was competitive as recently as ten years ago, but in the last decade, the media has placed a greater emphasis on winning championships, spewing the narrative that anything less is an abject failure.
“It’s all that matters,” Wright said of championships. “That’s what all of sports commentary has become and then we act shocked when the players act accordingly.
“All we give you credit for is championships. All we give you credit for is the destination,” Wright continued. “Nothing for the journey. It does not matter what you do in the regular season. It does not matter what your full body of work is. You either win the title or you’re considered some different level of disappointment or failure.”
Because the media devalues any accomplishment short of winning a championship, players have acted accordingly and similarly devalued any game that doesn’t have title implications. Where’s the benefit in playing 82 regular season games and competing in the dunk contest if it means running out of gas during the playoffs and getting slammed by the media for failing when it matters most? NBA teams are also buying into the ‘championship or bust’ mentality, with front offices protecting their star investment by supporting load management in hopes of having a healthy roster for the playoffs.
“Of course, anything that is not directly related to a championship pursuit is going to not just become secondary or even tertiary, it’s gonna become forgotten,” Wright said. “And then we in the media act like we’ve got nothing to do with it.”
Wright transitioned from this topic by doing his part in contributing to the media’s ‘championship or bust’ mentality. Shortly after faulting the media for inspiring the NBA’s load management mentality, Wright said Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokić isn’t deserving of another regular season MVP award because he lacks a championship and has a losing record in the playoffs.