NEW YORK - NBA commissioner David Stern said on Monday that a schedule of 66 games compressed into four months after a money dispute had nothing to do with major injuries that have nagged players this season.
Trying to salvage as much of the planned 82-game season as possible, and trim financial losses to club owners and players after a lockout, the players and league agreed to a programme with more games in fewer days than normal.
But after Chicago star Derrick Rose, last season's NBA Most Valuable Player, and New York's Iman Shumpert were lost for the rest of the playoffs with knee injuries in playoff openers Saturday, many blamed the grind of the season.
"I don't think it's related at all. Zero," Stern said Monday on ESPN radio.
"There's no evidence that the wear and tear (played a role). On Derrick it's kind of interesting. It was horrible to watch. But he was out. He missed 27 games earlier this year, so he only played in 40 of those games that we had in this 'condensed schedule.'"
Some veteran NBA figures are among those who do see a correlation between playing four games in five days or three games in three days and setbacks such as the back injury that has sidelined Orlando star center Dwight Howard.
"I think the wear and tear, there's no question it has taken its toll," said Philadelphia 76ers coach Doug Collins. "The wear and tear -- I don't think there's any question, the fatigue. What happens during the playoffs, it gets ratcheted up even more."
Asked about the number of injuries during the season before he went down on Saturday, Rose said, "When you think about it, (the schedule) is the only thing that changed."
Knicks guard Baron Davis blames the schedule.
"This has been a compressed season, a lot more games, a lot less practice time, a lot less recovery time," Davis said. "You can definitely look at the season and just look at the schedule and say that guys really never got the ample amount of time to rest and heal their bones because you're fighting for playoff position. It's game after game after game. So, you know, it's tough."
Stern called the notion that this year's schedule has contributed to the rise in injuries "worthy of our study at season's end to see how that just works out."
"We want to find out if we can learn something from this," Stern said. "But basically in most years we average about five (major knee injuries) and prior to this year's playoffs we had three from a schedule where we played two more games a month."
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