The Los Angeles Lakers received their championship rings on Opening Night, but the game following that ceremony did not go their way. They fell to the L.A. Clippers, and even worse than things getting out of hand down the stretch was that LeBron James rolling his left ankle in the fourth quarter.
While gathering himself to try and challenge an Ivica Zubac shot, James stepped on Zubac’s foot and turned his ankle. He didn’t leave the floor, instead tightening up his shoes and continuing playing, but injuries such as this are difficult to judge in the moment and a better idea of the severity will be figured out the next day.
For his part, James doesn’t seem to be too concerned with the ankle. “I turned it pretty good but I don’t think it’s going to stop me from playing on Friday,” he said after the loss. “Got a couple days, obviously you know how I am about treatment, so I’ll do that around the clock and I think I should be fine by Friday.”
Further symbolic of James’ optimism were the details he provided when asked what treatment would entail. “I’ll go home and have dinner right now, I’ll ice it and I’ll drink some wine that will flow right to the ankle. That’s probably the best recovery I can have,” James quipped.
“I’ll make sure I drink on the left side of my body so it just goes right down to my left leg, right down to my ankle. I’ll be around the clock. I’ll wake up [Wednesday] morning before I leave the house and get some more treatment and get some at the facility as well. We have a couple days, so I feel like I’ll be fine.”
By all accounts the injury doesn’t seem to be anything serious, but it wouldn’t be too surprising if the Lakers and head coach Frank Vogel choose to take no chances. Vogel has been very open about easing LeBron into the season and not playing him too many minutes especially early on.
“I do want to peel back his minutes as much as possible,” Vogel said. “The risk of peeling back his minutes too much is you want to just keep him in rhythm as much as possible. … We have a rotation built in for him where he plays more short bursts, gets shorter rests and stays within what his body is used to.”
Whether that leads to Vogel holding James out on Friday remains to be seen. But it also must be noted that the Lakers’ second game of the season takes place on Christmas Day, which is one of the biggest days of the season for the NBA.
LeBron embracing marathon mindset
James has also been open about taking the long-term view for this season. With the team not getting much of an offseason, he has fully embraced the idea of the 2021 season being a marathon.
“It’s not a sprint. We’re a veteran ballclub, we understand that,” James recently said. “I’ve been a part of some veteran ballclubs, you live in the moment and make the most of today.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!