During the 2020-21 regular season, injuries battered the Los Angeles Lakers after a 22-6 start. First, Anthony Davis went down for over two months with a series of Achilles and calf injuries. Then, shortly after, LeBron James suffered a high ankle sprain that kept him out for six weeks.
The prevailing thought throughout the entire season was just to get everyone healthy for the playoffs. However, once the playoffs came around and the Lakers had no one sitting out games due to injury, it was still very obvious that the team was hobbled.
Davis couldn’t even make it through four games without suffering what would be a season-ending groin strain. Meanwhile, James, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Alex Caruso all struggled with health during the team’s first-round exit.
After the Lakers faced their early elimination, Davis confirmed that James was playing at less than 100% for the entirety of the series. “He wasn’t 100% healthy and I think you guys know that. He left it all on the floor, especially tonight trying to make plays after plays to try to help us get to a Game 7. I think he also is gonna need that time to let the ankle fully heal.
“But it was more, and especially when he first came back, a lot of jump shots. I don’t think he trusted the ankle a lot because with everything you do, he’s moving the ankle so he plays downhill and jumps and attacks and come off pick-and-rolls, do a lot of movement so his ankle has to be good. But like I said, he was still very effective for us when he came back. I think he left that Toronto game when it was bothering him, I could be wrong. But when he came back the second time he was good and he went out there and did everything he could to put us in a positing to do something special. It just wasn’t enough for our team, me, him and everyone else.”
By the time the season came to an end in Game 6 against the Phoenix Suns, it came with almost a sigh of relief. Yes, the Lakers wouldn’t be in contention for a second consecutive championship. But the season coming to an end meant that the injuries would also stop and L.A. would have a full offseason to rest, something they didn’t get last year.
James can now focus on letting his ankle get to 100% before returning to basketball activities in the hopes of raising the Lakers’ 18th championship banner in 2022.
James changing jersey number for 2021-22 season
Whether it’s in conjunction with “Space Jam: A New Legacy” set to premiere over the summer or if it’s for another reason, James will be sporting a new number with the Lakers next season.
Shortly after the end of the Lakers season, it was announced that James — who had worn 23 for his first three seasons in L.A. — would be switching to No. 6, the number he wore for four years with the Miami Heat.
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