I have no doubt having your superstars fresh and full of energy is the way every coach wants to enter the NBA Playoffs. That’s understandable. However, the fact the Cleveland Cavaliers gave LeBron James the last three games off — games the Cavaliers lost, by the way — to rest him before the postseason starts begs a question: Did Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Karl Malone, or John Stockton, to name a few, ever take games off to get some rest? If they did, I certainly don’t remember it.
Granted, my reaction is a little knee-jerk-y, but I did check out some stats from Basketball Reference.com, and while these players missed various amounts of games, Bird and Magic especially, the reasons were injury-related, not to simply give them a break from the regular season grind. I’ll further grant the Cavaliers have nothing to play for either. No one in the East is going to catch them for the NBA’s best record, nor is anyone from the West.
Nevertheless, if the Jordan/Pippen-led Bulls had a game against the team that stomped the Bulls out of the playoffs the year previous, you’d think Phil Jackson would have to physically restrain Jordan and Pippen to keep them out of the game. Perhaps I’m simply being nostalgic, and my glowing memory is overreacting, or simply remembering it wrong, but for the life of me, I do not remember seeing this next to Michael Jordan’s name during the regular season: DNP Coach’s Decision (Rest).
This includes the Bulls’ 72-10 season as well. In fact, during the final two games of their record-breaking regular season, Jordan played 31 and 24 minutes, respectively.