Load management has been a hot-button issue across the NBA and one of the league’s most powerful voices said the need for the tactic at the professional level starts when athletes are younger.
“These kids are going into the league already banged up, and I think parents and coaches need to know … well, AAU coaches don’t give a f—k,” James told Yahoo Sports. “AAU coaches couldn’t give a damn about a kid and what his body is going through.”
AAU – known as the Amateur Athletic Union – is a U.S.-based sports organization which is dedicated to promoting the development of young athletes. AAU offers several different programs from Aerobics to Wrestling, but basketball is really the main driver of the organization.
“I think [AAU] has something to do with it, for sure,” James said about young athletes having more mileage on their bodies when they get into the NBA. “It was a few tournaments where my kids — Bronny and Bryce — had five games in one day and that’s just f-----g out of control. That’s just too much.”
He added: “And there was a case study where I read a report. I don’t know who wrote it not too long ago, and it was talking about the causes and [kid’s] bodies already being broken down and they [attributed] it to AAU basketball and how many games that these tournaments are having for the [financial benefit]. So, I’m very conscious for my own son because that’s all I can control, and if my son says he’s sore or he’s tired, he’s not playing.”
James believed that AAU tournaments don’t take the kids’ best interests at heart. He said his kids were “dead tired” playing tournament games back-to-back.
“You know that old saying. It’s like, ‘Boy, you ain’t tired. What you tired for? You're only 12 years old. You don’t even know what it means to be tired.’ Nah, that’s b---s—t. Those kids are tired,” he said. “And they don’t eat great too. The nutrition part. They don’t eat well at 14, 15, 16. They’re taking all that pounding and then they’re not putting the right s--t in their body. It’s tough.”
Kobe Bryant spoke out against the organization in 2015. He claimed that AAU didn’t teach kids the fundamentals of the game.
“Horrible, terrible AAU basketball. It's stupid,” he told ESPN about where the problems started. “It doesn't teach our kids how to play the game at all so you wind up having players that are big and they bring it up and they do all this fancy crap and they don't know how to post. They don't know the fundamentals of the game. It's stupid.”