The Los Angeles Lakers are off to their best start in franchise history and currently hold a solid lead over the rest of the Western Conference during the 2019-20 NBA season.
If they are able to continue this level of play, they could potentially clinch the Pacific Division and the No. 1 seed, which would allow some rest time for their two All-Star players, particularly LeBron James.
In his 17th NBA season and with so many miles on his body already, James would seem to be the perfect candidate for a rest game here and there. That would especially seem to be the case if the Lakers are able to lock things down later in the season. However, James has been soundly against that idea and that mindset hasn’t changed.
“Why wouldn’t I play if I’m healthy? That doesn’t make any sense to me personally. I don’t know how many games I got left in my career. I don’t know how many kids that may show up to a game that are there to come see me play and if I sit out, then what? That’s my obligation … If I’m healthy, then I’m going to play.”
This shows the connection that James has with his fans. Many kids surely come to see All-Star players like him, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Stephen Curry, and James Harden, so them not suiting up for non-injury reasons is a major letdown.
It’s something James has been open about this season, noting earlier to Dave McMenamin of ESPN this has always been his stance:
“If I’m hurt, I don’t play. If not, I’m playing,” James told ESPN as he knocked on the wooden façade of his locker after the Lakers’ 95-80 win over the Miami Heat on Friday night. “That’s what has always been my motto.”
One thing that is helping James this season is his minutes. For the first time in his career, he is averaging under 35 minutes per night which will help him stay fresh throughout the season.
Should the Lakers have things in hand late in the season, it wouldn’t be out of the question for those minutes to decrease even further, allowing fans to see their favorite player, but also preserving him for the 2020 NBA playoffs.