Athletes fly a lot. A very lot. So lot so that they probably "befriend" a couple of flight attendents throughout the season (if you recognize what i mean, and also I"m certain you do).

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Not all sporting activities are produced equal in this regard. NFL players frequently fly twice a week if the a road game: one there, one back. If Goodell succeeds, his players would have to fly once more a year (which isn"t a vast deal in terms of time, however the opportunity of extra injuries current real problems). In a few years, they might even have to fly to London, i beg your pardon is a bigger deal because jet lag will come to be an also larger aspect (a phenomenon I’ll cite a little later).

Baseball players travel extensively, sure; lock play 162 games, after all. However those games are divided into series, i m sorry keeps football player in a given city because that at the very least a few days if the collection progresses.

But NBA players fall into the “mix” classification of the 2 previous configuration of skilled team travel. They take trip every day and also sometimes beat on successive nights. But what do these consistent cross-country treks carry out to players? their teams? their play? their psychology?

From Home


Teams feeling comfortable here. They understand the quickest route to the arena; they know their pre-game routine probably won"t gain disrupted. They know (or hope, at least) die-hard opposing pan won"t prank speak to their hotel rooms in ~ 2am.

The home fans will cheer castle (probably). At least in their advent (...probably). Anyway, there’s a an excellent chance they’ll get a significant deal of support at their residence environment.

Getting on the Plane

Here starts the symptom of a hectic take trip schedule. Think about the countless possibilities for delays: bus to the airport come late, airplane arrives late, player arrives late (Ron Artist, whose name have to be “Attest” since that’s what people always say once talking around him: “Yeah, I have actually witnesses who can attest to the truth that Artest gained on the bus attract nothing but his boxers” (not a actual quote, or at least not one attributable come a credible source... Yet, but the story holds part truth. The went top top Jimmy Kimmel in his boxers). Probably the plane needs unscheduled maintenance, bring about even much more delays.

Even if the very first thing goes wrong—a bus showing up late—player are already planning exactly how to sue the bus agency after submitting a lackluster 4 PTS 6 to 1 RBD performance.

In the Plane

Now players have actually time to think, be introspective, and also analy­­ze their games—or watch videos or review People Magazine. They always have the opportunity of bonding through teammates, i beg your pardon of course, way those bonds deserve to tear apart just as easily. V so plenty of enormous egos confined within a small space (plus their germs), inevitably personality “issues” will arise.

Getting turn off the Plane

Now players have actually landed in a brand-new city. Let’s say the new York Knicks are flying cross-country because that a meeting v the Clippers (though with exactly how horrible these two teams are, ns not sure flying in bill Gates’ private jet would make lock play any kind of better). Well, the bus expected to shuttle brand-new York from your arena to the airplane is late, an interpretation they take off late, meaning they come late. In this hypothetical case: 3 a.m. PST. Come the Knicks, it in reality feels choose 6 a.m. Due to the fact that they’re accustomed to EST. 

They now need to spend an hour-or-so obtaining to the hotel, unpacking (maybe), and preparing because that the game later that day. Only then is rest an option. Considering many coaches at the very least like to conduct a tiny run-through, less-intense practice, that opportunity for an ext rest becomes less likely. I suspect players room lucky to accrue 5 hours—and the fact is probably far less.

New City

Say the team has actually the deluxe of one extra night to do as they please (within the “limits,” i.e. Nothing be a jackass). But that proposition deserve to be an overwhelming when the location cities (excluding probably OKC) sell so countless was to have fun. Those methods usually exist in ~ a night-time atmosphere, more reducing the amount of sleep they’ll get. Many of the attractions come in female and bottled type (sometimes the previous has the latter), i m sorry is generally not the greatest combination for a player trying to remain cautious and safe—especially when that player is young, good-looking, and also rich beyond belief.

Party cities room renowned for offering easy avenues to negative behavior. Remember the All-Star video game in Vegas? hopefully you don’t (Google it for all the details among the 403 arrests).

Players visit these urban frequently and repeatedly in ~ a season. Only half their games are in ~ home; they spend the rest of the time in those airports and airplanes and also hotel rooms and clubs and also streets exterior clubs. Also at home, it’s virtually like a hotel, due to the fact that they only stay a night prior to they depart again.

Especially for rookies, homesickness more than likely emerges relatively early in a season. They might have had actually some endure with travel in college, yet nowhere near the brutal schedule the the NBA.

Back in school, they weren"t enduring week-long follow me without see their families unless they were participating in a tournament. Many college road gamings are within conference, meaning the location will be relatively close. Pros continuously embark top top cross-country trips.


By mid-season, players have currently hit a typical notion of a “wall.” They’re sick of travel, ailing of not being physically and also mentally prepared, sick of lacking their homes and also families, sick of rowdy the opposite fans. Rather frankly, i bet a lot of them are simply sick that basketball.

The playoff picture starts solidifying, and players lose hope if their team doesn’t have actually a legitimate possibility at to win a championship, allow alone winning a playoff game. As soon as they realize their championship aspirations room unattainable, castle shut down.

That’s simply person nature. Players discover it even easier to shut down when so plenty of ancillary aspects of the job (flying, quick food, rarely often rare sleep patterns) wear them down prior to they even step foot top top the court wherein a team could wear them under further.

Teams shot desperately not to hit a wall, but unless they’re part of the Dynasty-Bulls and also have Jordan punching them in the face, they always do. Prefer I said: human nature. How frequently do girlfriend crave a rest while working lengthy hours? A quite vacation, perhaps? well players don’t get any type of respite until the season’s over (and in this era, training continues through the summer months).

That “wall” is made much bigger by every the complications led to by unreliable flights, irregular sleep patterns, various time zones, bad eating habits, “side attractions” available within all cities, among the tedium of play basketball 5 hours a day, every day.

Some football player break through it as the playoffs near, yet teams the end of contention permit that wall surface crumble on your heads, hopefully leading to some new building blocks acquirable in the draft.


These travel factors will proceed inhibiting great play and experiences. Football player must neglect their fatigue, malnourishment, and also taunts native opposing crowds in the arenas (and hotel rooms), and also adverse playing problems (e.g. Denver"s altitude). They need to leave their households for the majority of the year, and also in the rare chance they’re home, they just see their family members for a few days. 

Damn, 6 teams also have to give up Christmas v the family due to the fact that they need to play an ext basketball. As soon as they’re done v the Christmas game, it’s off to one more city. And another. And also another. The bicycle continues.

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I’m not trying to offer fans a reason to feeling sympathy because that multi-millionaire professional athletes, yet at least fans obtain to see their families most days and also go come sleep in ~ a reasonable hour ~ watching part Letterman. Most fans don"t constantly get disrupted by jet lag and changing altitudes. Plus, fans don’t have 35,000 civilization heckling them because that an ostensibly lackluster initiative given top top two hrs of sleep in ~ an unfamiliar time of work in one unfamiliar city after ~ eating part Pop-Tarts because that breakfast. 

Even after that disappointing experience, players only have more of the exact same to look forward to in the next city. And also the next…

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