With the Los Angeles Lakers officially eliminated from playoff contention, there have been questions about LeBron James’ availability to conclude the 2018-19 NBA season.
At 34-years-old and in his 16th season, James has missed 20 games due to a groin strain injury and load management, which marks the most in his future Hall of Fame career.
Considering all of the minutes James has played, shutting him down for the final nine games makes sense as the Lakers should improve their 2019 NBA Draft lottery odds.
However, after James recorded his eighth triple-double of the season, he discussed his mindset in unfamiliar territory after defeating the Sacramento Kings, 111-106.
“When I’m on the floor, I gotta play my game no matter what our circumstances [are]. No matter how many minutes I’m out on the floor,” James said.
“Through the basketball gods, I’ve always respected the basketball gods. If I’m on the floor, I gotta try to play as hard as I can or do something to affect the game and not cheat the game. So, if I’m out on the floor or if I’m in uniform, then I’ve got to make things happen.”
Considering the three championships in eight consecutive NBA Finals appearances, James completely missing the playoffs must be extremely difficult for him. However, the extra two months will allow James to refresh his mind and body for his 17th season.
While the Lakers had playoff aspirations, injuries completely derailed Year 1 with James and the young core. Although James returned from injury after just six weeks, his physical therapist suggested the recovery process should have ended his season.