If an NBA player can't fly, how can he play in the NBA? On SSRN, I have an updated legal analysis for a forthcoming article in the Pepperdine Law Review on this topic. Here's an excerpt:
The Rockets, however, have no ability to modify its 82-game regular season schedule. Like every other team’s schedule, the Rockets’ schedule is determined by the league in accordance with league policies and CBA protections for players. The league sets the date, time and location for the 1,230 games played each season by the 30 teams. In setting teams’ schedules, the league tries to treat every team as equally as possible. For instance, by rule, each team plays two home games and two away games against each other team in its division; each team plays three or four games against other teams in its conference; and each team plays one home game and one away game against each other team in the opposing conference. There are myriad other policies, including prohibition of games played on three consecutive nights, prohibition of games played on days when players have travelled across two time zones, and restrictions on games played on holidays. Availability of arenas, many of which are shared with NHL teams and host music concerts and other sporting events, is also considered. The Rockets, in other words, cannot unilaterally modify its schedule so that it accommodates White’s anxiety disorder and fear of flying.
Expecting the NBA to modify the schedule to accommodate one of the league’s 450 players also seems unreasonable. The complexity of scheduling would make such a request extremely difficult. Even assuming such a request is technically feasible, honoring it might undermine fairness and player protections. For instance, if the Rockets are able to play more home games than other teams, it would give them a significant advantage. The same would be true if the Rockets received an easier travel schedule. Plus, what would happen if the Rockets traded White to another team? Would the new team’s schedule be changed and the Rockets schedule reverted back to normal?To read the rest, click here.