Last Thursday, Los Angeles Lakers point guard, LeBron James sat out in LA’s road game agains the Golden State Warriors with what the team classified as groin soreness.
The Lakers were playing the Warriors, who do have one of the worst records in the NBA. But the term “load management” was not used in the description.
James is anti-load management. “If I’m healthy, I play,” James said back in December.
“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.”
James did play on Satuday in LA’s 105-88 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. James finished the game with 19 points, 8 rebounds and 10 assists. James and the Lakers rebounded the following day in their 122-114 win over the Zion Williamson-led New Orleans Pelicans. James posted a triple double with a 34 point, 12 rebound and 13 assist finish.
He’s healthy, alright! He genuinely needed a break and for good reason. In his 17th season in the league, James, 35 is averaging 25.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, 10.6 assists and 1.2 steals per contest.
Any rest he can get, it makes valid sense as the NBA Playoffs begin next month.
Self preservation is important in year 17. Just last season, James missed 17 games with a left groin strain.
The injury happened last Christmas Day in LA’s loss to the Warriors.
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.
“When it comes to basketball this guy’s a beast. Like the full game, he’s making sure his body is okay, making sure he’s lifting, doing aerobics work and you can see that, like for the little time I was there.”
The Los Angeles Lakers currently sit in first place in the NBA’s Western Conference with a 46-13 record.
LA has a potent schedule for the remainer of the week, perhaps that day off against the Warriors last week will do him so good. LA plays the Philadelphia 76ers at home on Tuesday evening.
The Sixers are without without Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Josh Richardson who are out due to injury. In their absence Philly will lean on Tobias Harris. “Our biggest competitors are ourselves,” Harris told me last month.
“Just figuring it out, getting healthy, being at full throttle.”
The Lakers will face the Milwaukee Bucks at home on Friday evening. The Bucks are led by MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Lakers will conclude their week with a matchup against Staples co-tenants, the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday evening. The Clippers are led by All-Stars Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. “We all know his strengths,” Laker guard, Danny Green told me.
“We all know what he can do. Try to limit him as much as possible to not let him get to his spots and get comfortable in his rhythm. Do that and offensively make him work, put him in some screen-and-rolls out on the floor, space and have some good movement.”
After the showdown with the Clippers on Sunday, LA will face the Nets, Rockets and Nuggets between next Tuesday and next Sunday before hitting the road to play the Utah Jazz.