Anthony Davis briefly was on the court during Game 6 against the Phoenix Suns but the Los Angeles Lakers All-Star forward was not able to shake a groin injury during the elimination game, exiting early.
While it’s tough to criticize Davis for trying to play in the crucial matchup — which lasted 5 minutes — Hall of Famer turned TNT analyst Charles Barkley thinks it’s part of a larger problem.
Barkley gave credit to Davis for testing his limits but thinks he has to change something going forward considering his injury history.
“I can’t believe the doctors put him out there,” Barkley said. “He should not have even have tried to play. You saw right from the jump ball. He’s a terrific kid and a hell of a player but there’s no way he should have been out there.
“I will say this, they will have to sit him down this summer and say, ‘there’s something going on with your training.’ From 22 to 32 you are Superman. Obviously, age and all the games take their toll. But for him to always be hurt, he’s doing something wrong. Anthony Davis has to be the best player on that team for them to be good again.”
Injuries Derail Lakers Repeat Run
Davis and LeBron James both missed significant time during the regular season and never looked 100% during the postseason.
Davis is 28 years old, significantly younger than James, who will turn 37 next season. James has more than 1,500 games under his belt and no one has played more basketball than him over the last decade. He showed some obvious signs of aging during the matchup with the Suns and a significant ankle injury that hobbled him did not help his cause.
“We knew the type of team we could be when we were healthy,” Davis said. “We just never could take advantage of our full team, the team we knew we could be.”
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel agreed, echoing Davis’ sentiment.
“It basically derailed our run,” coach Frank Vogel said of the team’s injuries. “We did everything we could to fight through that, but ultimately it wasn’t enough.”
Davis said despite the injuries he had to try to get out there with the Lakers’ season on the line.
“It never really felt good. but the competitive nature in me wanted to go out there and help the team as best as I could,” Davis said. “My body didn’t agree.
LeBron James Drained After Loss to Suns
The Lakers made no excuses after the loss to the Suns on Thursday, which secured a 4-2 first-round exit. But LeBron James and Co. had the shortest offseason in NBA history after their bubble run and were quite frankly running on fumes due to injuries.
“I always think from the moment we entered the bubble to now, it’s been draining,” James told reporters, per ESPN. “Mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally draining.
“Every team has to deal with it, obviously. But with us and Miami going the long haul in the bubble and then coming right back on short notice to this season, it’s been draining.”
Davis missed 36 games with his calf and Achilles issues, while James sat out a career-high 26 games. The first-round loss to the Suns was the first of James’ career.