James Worthy played 12 seasons in the NBA, won three championships with the Los Angeles Lakers and retired having scored more than 16,000 points in his career. But "Big Game James" thinks he could have done even more.
Worthy, now an analyst for Time Warner Cable SportsNet in Los Angeles, offered his thoughts on the Lakers' highly anticipated upcoming season in an interview with The Los Angeles Times. The Hall of Fame forward has been outspoken of late, offering mild criticism of the way Dwight Howard handled his exit from Orlando and insisting he feels the defending champion Miami Heat still have an advantage over the greatly improved Lakers.
When asked by the Times' Mark Medina about how the team can keep its aging stars like Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash healthy, Worthy said that will be up to how well head coach Mike Brown handles the players' minutes — and offered a somewhat playful detail about how coach Pat Riley may have cost him and his contemporaries a few more well-paid years in their careers.
"Pat Riley didn't really manage minutes," Worthy is quoted as saying while laughing. "That's why we had shorter careers, I'm assuming. He only did that once we got into the playoffs. If we wanted rest, we had to hurry up and declare the first seed. Then he started to minimize practices. Pat Riley was good with practices. He needed you during the games. But midseason and the latter part of the season, if he saw there was some fatigue, he would usually give us rest by canceling practice."
Although Worthy sounds like he is joking about Riley shortening his career, he certainly is not joking about logging heavy minutes. Worthy averaged more than 36 minutes per game four times and played in at least 75 games in all but one of his pro seasons. In 1990-91, he played 38.6 minutes per game, which was the eighth-most in the league that year but would have tied for the third-most in 2011-12.
Photo via Facebook/James Worthy