We’re in the heart of flu season here in America, so there’s certainly nothing wrong with dodging a night of work because of illness. That’s what Lakers star LeBron James did on Saturday when the Lakers played the Thunder in Oklahoma City—he sat out with what was termed a cold, along with Anthony Davis (sore backside) and Danny Green (hip).
The problem for James is that, as one of the world’s most recognizable athletes, he can’t skip out on work then spend the next night on stage at a sold-out annual Latin pop music festival without getting some notice for it.
In Los Angeles on Sunday night, James showed up on stage with Bad Bunny, the popular Puerto Rican trap and raggaeton singer who headlined the Calibash weekend festival at Staples Center. Video showed James dancing alongside Bad Bunny and embracing him in the middle of the stage.
A Quick Recovery for LeBron?
It is entirely possible, of course, that James was so ill he could not play in OKC on Saturday but had a quick recovery and rejuvenation once he returned, to the point that he felt well enough to bound around on stage at a major concert on Sunday.
Or, perhaps, James just wanted to sit out the second night of the Lakers’ Friday-Saturday back-to-back in Dallas and Oklahoma City and get some time to rest up, especially with a monster five-game road trip lurking, beginning Saturday in Houston and dragging on through January 25.
That would be plenty reasonable. The only problem, though, is that James has been outspoken against the idea of “load management” especially as it has applied to the Lakers’ intracity rivals, the Clippers, and star Kawhi Leonard.
LeBron on Load Management
Back in December, after a win over the Hawks, James told reporters, “If I’m healthy, I play. I mean, that should be the approach. I mean, unless we’re getting to like late in the season and we’ve clinched and we can’t get any better or any worse, it could benefit from that, but why wouldn’t I play if I’m healthy? It doesn’t make any sense to me, personally.
“I mean, I don’t know how many games I got left in my career. I don’t know how many kids that may show up to a game and they’re there to come see me play and if I sit out, then what? That’s my obligation.”
Thus the way James ducked out on the Thunder game has a feel of hypocrisy to it—he couldn’t play in Oklahoma City, in what is the team’s last regular-season appearance there this year, but he was OK for a stage appearance the next night.
That was pointed out by SiriusXM NBA Radio host Jusitn Termine:
Indeed, James likely has earned some rest. The game against the Thunder was only the second he’s missed this season. No active player has appeared in nearly as many playoffs as James, who has 239 postseason games to his credit, 92 more than no. 2 on the list, Udonis Haslem.
But if you’re going to have a night off, it probably would be best not to hint that others shouldn’t do the same.