TrueHoop reader David e-mailed a very interesting point:
It's often pointed out that the Miami Heat regularly measure body fat percentage on their players and that it's required they be below a certain threshold in order to play. Antoine Walker was famously withheld from games for not meeting this requirement, for instance.
I'm assuming any player "suspended" for this still gets paid, but is this really allowed by the CBA? It seems to me that playing time should be doled out according to performance and need, not what materials your body is made out of.
While athletics are often a whole different breed than most other jobs, this seems to tread into discriminatory territory that would never be allowed in any other workplace.
It's not a simple question.
I can hear already that the basic reaction will be that these players make all this money, being out-of-shape is the least teams can ask, and this is one of the only objective ways to measure it.
Not to mention, if the players aren't complaining about it, who cares?
But on the other hand, I think David is right that here in the U.S. "none of your business" is a good and healthy reaction when employers want to know about things that are not directly related to job performance.
I'm sure a lot of employers would love to have mind-reading software tell them if you'd accept a 15% pay cut, but they don't get to know that! I'm sure some bosses would like to know if you speed in your car, or cheat on your spouse. As gene tests evolve, some companies will no doubt try to find out, before hiring you, if you're likely to get an expensive disease like cancer that'll hurt your productivity and jack up their long-term health insurance costs.
Generally, the proper response is to say "butt out." If I can do my job day in and day out, the other stuff about me is my business. And in the NBA, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal, among others, would seem to prove that players can perform at elite levels without being the leanest people in the room.
And high salaries are not a good enough excuse to demand players be held to a different standard.
Would you let your employer test your body fat, and reward or punish you based on the results? Should things be any different for NBA players? Why?
I'd be fascinated to hear smart thoughts on this.