Cedric Ceballos played in the NBA for 11 seasons. He was an All-Star, won the Dunk Contest and played with – and against – some of the greatest players to ever pick up a basketball.
And every so often, some of those players sat out games.
“We had players that rested,” Ceballos said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “I played with the great Kevin Johnson, and he had a lot of injuries. Cotton Fitzsimmons would play him not back-to-backs and stuff like that, but that was for injury reasons. If he was healthy, he was out there playing. Everybody in the league, when the playoffs were seeded, the superstars didn’t play, but that was the last five or six games of the season to get you ready for the playoffs. But other than that, I don’t really recall in my era where they were sitting out (because) ‘I’m healthy, I’m just tired or I need some rest.’ I don’t recall that.”
Ceballos, who played in the NBA from 1990-2001, has mixed feelings about the resting phenomenon.
“This is a different era,” he said. “It’s difficult for me to say that that’s okay because in my era, we had the commercial flights at 5, 6 in the morning. And that’s back-to-back, getting up and talking to a businessman or a housewife on the plane – and they’re going on charter flights and private jets and masseuses and all that other stuff. So it’s tough, but they do demand a lot more than they did. The NBA, they demand a lot more for the players, meaning that the partnership is a lot better now than they were before. They ask LeBron to do things that LeBron probably wouldn’t do if he was playing in our era and stuff like that. Even when Michael and Magic were the superstars, (the NBA) didn’t demand that much from them. I think that’s what (the players are) saying: ‘Hey, you want me to do this? Then allow me to take a break here.’”
Gregg Popovich, of course, started the rest-star-players trend, as he sought to preserve Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili for the postseason. It’s hard to second-guess the 68-year-old, who has guided the Spurs to five NBA titles and six Finals appearances.
Popovich started this whole thing, but he started it with a revenge factor against Miami, taking his Big Three and sitting them out and then Miami flip-flopped and did the same thing to them,” Ceballos said. “So he was kind of battling back and forth with Pat Riley with that and it kind of worked, so Popovich, he kept doing it. He kept doing it.”
Ultimately, Ceballos believes that the players and the league will find a compromise that is fair to both sides.
“It’s tough, man,” Ceballos said. “They’re super athletes, I love watching them play, and it’s so hard on the fans. Maybe when they do sit out, (maybe) they come out and do a little fanfare and they wave at the fans and give a couple autographs and a couple pictures, something like that when they’re not playing to make (up for) that guy who spent his whole monthly check to get his kid a ticket to come see LeBron and he sits out.”