Last season, LeBron James missed 17 games with a left groin strain last season.
James, 35, first picked up the injury in a Christmas Day loss to the Warriors in 2018.
James would return to the Lakers after extensive rehab, but the Lakers still didn’t make it to the Playoffs. Perhaps it was a blessing in diguise.
The Lakers got Anthony Davis via trade with the New Orleans Pelicans and over the summer, James continued to rehab in the offseason and tape Space Jam 2.
“He had a lot of stuff going on in the summer with Space Jam,” Anthony Davis told me.
“So we didn’t get a lot of time to work out together. And then we had a short training camp, had to go to China and all of that stuff. So, I’m surprised that he had a little connection right now.”He [LeBron James] made a joke [and said]: ‘We’re not peanut butter and jelly right now, we’re like peanut butter and bananas.’ So we’re getting there. We’re constantly getting there game by game.”
This season, LeBron James is averaging 25.5 points, 7.7 rebounds and 10.6 assists per game for the first place Lakers.
What a difference a year makes.
James taping Space Jam 2 after a major injury all while prepping himself for the next chapter of his career could remind some of Michael Jordan preparing himself for his second three-peat with the Bulls while taping the original Space Jam.
For those keeping score at home: Jordan had returned to the NBA court after a year and a half retirement from basketball in which he played minor league baseball for the Birmingham Barons.
Warner Bros did something for Jordan that had never been done. “They gave him a gym,” Charles Barkley told me.
“They built him a stadium that held 5,000 people so he can workout overnights, scrimmage everyday,” NBA Hall of Famer, Charles Barkley told me.
MJ started filming Space Jam after the Bulls lost to the Shaquille O’Neal, Horace Grant, Penny Hardaway-led Orlando Magic in the 1995 NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Jordan’s Los Angeles-based Space Jam dome doubled as a studio and a training headquarters for MJ to prepare for the Bulls’ eventual next three-peat from 1996-98.
The building was air-conditioned,included locker rooms, a barbershop, showers, a living room and top-notch training equipment.
MJ never had to leave the studio!
Comparing MJ and James is not something everybody enjoys doing.
Just ask LBJ’s Lakers teammate Kyle Kuzma.
“Me, I don’t really compare people I just really enjoy really seeing each others greatness,” Kuzma told me.
Some folks do. Is this season and beyond LeBron James’ MJ moment?
Appearing on the Scoop B Radio Podcast, hoops historian Roland Lazenby discussed the similarities between MJ and LeBron James on the Scoop B Radio Podcast.
Check out our Q&A below:
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: Yeah. Notice in this interview I asked you no questions about LeBron. This is my last question [laughs]… Scoop B Radio listening on the line with Roland Lazenby talking all things basketball…you look at Michael Jordan when he came back from retirement in ’94-’95, playing baseball, lost in the semis playing the Orlando Magic, the Rockets won two championships if you recall I had a call on the Scoop B Radio podcast that if Michael had not retired, the Bulls would not have won those championships the Rockets still would’ve won them. That’s not my question. Here’s my question. Preparing for his second three-peat from ’96-’98, Michael Jordan filmed Space Jam. Comparatively LeBron James got hurt at Christmas and missed the playoffs. And in April through the beginning of the season, he’s sat out and is a monster. LeBron James also filmed Space Jam this past summer. From your perspective, from everything you know, covering Michael and more, do you see a parallel between Michael retirement and winning the three-peat and LeBron’s subsequent injury and getting Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers and preparing potentially making it to the Finals? Do you see parallels between those two gentlemen?
Roland Lazenby: Yes there’s some. That’s an interesting question. Michael was younger. He came back in ’95, he had just turned 32. I was there for every game I was traveling with them, it was quite an exciting time for me in my life. The whole world lost its mind when Jordan came back. They talked about the Dream Team and the global interest, but Jordan’s return, the second coming that was as much as the Dream Team in a lot of ways. The Dream Team was just out there kickin’ butt, these guys who didn’t come from strong basketball cultures in a lot of ways. But Jordan coming back was amazing. And he had his troubles – Jordan is a much more intense guy than LeBron. I went day drinking with LeBron’s uncle in Akron and I looked a lot at LeBron’s family, LeBron’s remarkable. He owns the league. His father’s name is Roland. We have the same name. He was murdered in a card game in Akron in ’94. He wasn’t even clear on who his father was. He came from some hardcore street background and I was very interested in the power and accomplishment of fatherless men, fatherless children. And I think LeBron is a fascinating study that. I don’t know if anybody – there are certain people who come to own the league, Jordan obviously comes to mind, people who were just the dean of the League…I’m not sure about Kobe because he had that sexual assault charges but Jordan had it, Magic had it to a degree; he vanquished Bird, Magic’s disadvantage was that he played in L.A. but Magic had the personality. Bird was funny in a sly way but he – Bird was very comfortable in who he was being the ‘Hick from French Lick’ but there are those guys that owned the League and LeBron has done it. And he has done it without the benefit of a college education, he has done it without – so many of the people that have come to be that guy and in pro basketball and in a lot of sports, they come from not always perfect families, but they are full families: A mother and a father. But LeBron has done it all on his own in some ways. Now he’s had some wonderful people that have come into his life, most of them youth coaches and different people wo have – when his mother was incapable or wasn’t locked in a way some people thought she should be, there were people that came in and helped out. But I also like to write about player’s relationships with their mothers. I really admire LeBron’s relationship with his mother. Everybody’s afraid of her back in Akron. She can be tough. He loves his mother and has deep respect for her and he’s just been THE MAN for the NBA in every way. He hasn’t been that cutthroat-rip-out-your-eyeballs guy, but he doesn’t have to be. He’s really more – Magic would rip your eyeballs out, but Magic was a guy that would share the ball. You would have force Jordan to share the ball – you know I read about an issue with Magic and less and less so with LeBron.