LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers could not escape the injury bug during the 2020-21 season and it cost them a chance at repeating as NBA champions.
James missed the longest stretch of his career after suffering a high ankle sprain, and though he was able to return, the Lakers could not overcome injuries in their first-round series against the Phoenix Suns. Los Angeles was eliminated in six games,\ and it marked the first time James did not get out of the opening round of the playoffs in his 18-year career.
The 36-year-old saw his 14-0 first-round winning streak snapped but emphasized that is not something that’s important to him. “Listen, like I tell you guys all throughout the season, every season is different, every challenge is different and to be able to put myself where I can even have accomplishments to even be broken or be able to continue it, it’s all due to the greatness of the man above and me just putting a lot of hard work in, my teammates, having a great coaching staff, things of that nature,” James said.
“So if that’s a record or whatever it is, they’re always meant to be broken. And in that fashion, it doesn’t matter to me as far as not making it out of the first round, what matters to me is getting this team back healthy. Me not being able to be at my full strength throughout this series, that’s my main focus but time to readjust and think about what the offseason has in store.”
If the Lakers had been completely healthy against the Suns the series could have turned in their favor, so it is a shame fans never got to see James and the roster at their best. It will be interesting to see how the roster shakes out in the offseason, but having a healthy James will be the primary focus of the summer.
James shows respect to Devin Booker
After being eliminated by the Suns, a photo circulated of James and Devin Booker. The two shared some kind words after the series in what was a show of respect from James that included a signed jersey for the young Suns star.
“I’ve had numerous conversations with him in the past and he continues to make the jump,” James said. “When you want to be great in this league, and as he said, as Kobe told him to be legendary. When you want to be legendary in this game you got to continue to improve not only your game but you as a man and everything both on and off the floor.
“And the conversations I’ve had over the years, I can tell he’s soaked them up and is using them to his advantage and everyone sees what he’s able to do out on the floor right now but I think his maturity, him as a young man is what I’m most impressed about.
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