It hasn’t been an easy season for LeBron James, with the Los Angeles Lakers superstar missing the most games of his career due to an ankle injury he sustained against the Atlanta Hawks back on March 20.
After the regular season wrapped up on Sunday, James reflected on the high-ankle sprain and had some shade for Solomon Hill, the Hawks player who slid into the four-time MVP while diving for a ball, causing the injury.
“It’s been hard to tackle it. I was playing some of the best basketball of my career before the injury,” James said. “It was not a self-inflicted wound or something I could control. It wasn’t like I wasn’t putting in the work and then my body failed me. I literally had a grown man diving at my leg for a loose ball.
“I had to pay the price of that and take my time to get my ankle to where it is today where I’m able to be back on the floor. It cost me seven weeks of the season that I still think back on and hate it. I’m still not comfortable with it.”
James was sidelined for 26 of the Lakers’ final 30 regular-season games.
Lakers Called Out Solomon Hill Following Injury
James’ teammate had his back after the game, with Montrezl Harrell and Dennis Schroder both calling out Hill for the non-basketball play.
“I really don’t feel like it was a loose ball play, and he had to go through his leg to get the ball,” Harrell told reporters after the game, per Silver Screen & Roll. “I don’t know how you feel like that’s a loose ball and go after a loose ball, but like I said, that’s neither here nor there, man.”
Hill responded on Twitter saying he would never “disrespect the game” by purposely injuring a player.
“Would never disrespect the game and take a player out purposely,” Hill said. “He knows that. That’s all that matters to me. Praying for a speedy recovery. #riptothementionstho #moredmsthansaweetie.”
LeBron James ‘Fine’ After Late Ankle Tweak
There was a little anxiety late in the regular-season finale against the Pelicans, where James seemed to tweak his injured ankle.
“It was a tweak. I’ll be fine,” James said. “I’ll be in the lineup on Wednesday.”
James has looked solid since making his second comeback from injury. He scored a team-high 25 points in the 110-98 win against the Pelicans on Sunday, playing 27 minutes.
“For where I am right now after sitting out as long as I did, I’m pretty good,” James said. “I had a lot of explosion and defensively I was able to play the passing lane a few times and get out on the break and make some cuts.”
James missed 26 of the Lakers’ final 30 regular-season games, which wasn’t ideal for the defending champs as they slipped to the No. 7 seed. But James is looking forward to the challenge of trying to win 17 postseason games to get the Lakers title No. 18.
“I don’t look at our seeding. It doesn’t matter,” James said, noting that he and Davis both missed significant time with injures this season. “Obviously we know we wanted to play a lot better this season, but injuries took a toll on our team. We’re finally starting to get whole, starting to feel a little bit better about our situation.”
The Lakers opened as 7-point favorites against the Warriors for the one-game affair.