Karl Malone has harsh words for NBA players who rest: 'Get your ass playing'

It’s time for your weekly “get off my lawn” speech from a retired player, and this time it comes courtesy of former Utah Jazz great Karl Malone.

Never one to hold his tongue, Malone unleashed a diatribe about current NBA players who take games off for rest purposes. This has been a hot topic all season, but the fervor increased recently when the Warriors and Cavaliers both chose to rest three star players during nationally televised games in consecutive weeks.

Malone isn’t having any of it, saying to ESPN’s Sage Steele: “If you don’t have at least 10 years experience, get your ass playing. It’s not work, it’s called playing. Besides, tell our underpaid service members and police and first responders to rest. Dammit, they can’t.”

Alright, slow your roll there, Mailman. Does it suck that marquee games are ruined for the fans when star players sit out? Of course. Is it any excuse to compare people who try to put a ball into a basket for a living to soldiers, police officers and first responders? Absolutely not.

Malone’s take is what you’d expect from one of the most durable athletes the NBA has seen. In his 19 seasons, Malone played under 80 games just twice, and one instance came in his final season in the league with the Lakers. The fact that he was able to play as many minutes as he did year in and year out without missing significant time is truly remarkable.

But the game has changed. NBA teams have realized and measured the toll that playing a full NBA season ... plus playoffs ... plus international competition over the summer, takes on these guys’ bodies. They’re paying tens (sometimes hundreds) of millions of dollars for their players, so it makes sense to take care of their investments as carefully as possible.

Malone’s also missing the fact that these decisions aren’t up to the players. Management and coaches decide when and where players will rest, and there’s really nothing the players can do about it. So despite Malone’s vehement protestations, players will continue to sit out for the foreseeable future.

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