It is no secret that the Los Angeles Lakers’ chances to repeat as NBA champions hinge on their health as they were snakebitten by the injury bug during the 2020-21 season.
The Lakers saw LeBron James and Anthony Davis miss extended time due to ankle and calf/Achilles injuries, respectively, and the team predictably struggled with their two superstars out. Davis returned after over two months off and began to resemble himself in Los Angeles’ final five games or so, while James came back with two games remaining left in the season.
James looked great against the Indiana Pacers, but he and the Lakers suffered a major scare when he appeared to re-sprain his right ankle in their win against the New Orleans Pelicans. However, James calmed any fears afterward as he said it was just a tweak.
“Yeah, that’s exactly what it was, it was a tweak. I stepped on [Nickeil Alexander-Walker’s] foot on the way down after the last layup. But I’ll be fine.”
Head coach Frank Vogel echoed his star’s assessment and did not seem worried about the incident. “He hopped up and took a few steps on it gingerly but he said he’s good to go,” Vogel said. “No issues.”
The 36-year-old added that as far as his overall health goes, he is gradually working his way back to his regular self after now playing in two games since returning from injury.
“Pretty good. For where I am right now after sitting out for as long as I did, if you take away the two games that I played momentarily, but pretty good. Had a lot of explosion, defensively I was able to play the passing lane a few times tonight, get out on the break and make some cuts, get in transition. So I came out pretty well.”
Laker fans took a collective breath when James exited the game but was later shown smiling on the bench so it is clear he was not concerned with his ankle. As far as how he looked prior, James once again looked more like his old self with how he was sprinting up and down the floor throughout the night.
Getting James as close to 100% healthy is the obvious priority for the Lakers as they are clearly the best team in the NBA when everyone is available.
James ‘hated’ missing so much time due to injury
It’s no secret that this season has been difficult for James and the Lakers after he missed the most games of his career due to the ankle issue.
He discussed how challenging it was and how the injury not happening under his own power made it even more difficult.
“Yeah, it’s been hard to tackle it because I was playing some of the best basketball of my career before the injury and it wasn’t like a self-inflicted wound, it wasn’t something that I can control, it wasn’t like I wasn’t putting in the work and then my body failed me,” James said. “I literally had a grown man diving at my leg for a loose ball and here’s the injury. So I had to pay the price of that and take my time, get my ankle to where it is today where I’m able to be back on the floor.
“But it cost me seven weeks of the season which I still think back on, I still hate it, I’m not comfortable with it or even gave much thought to it as far as like what this season could’ve been for me personally. So I’ve hated every moment of that but it is what it is. This is the time, the time is now and I’m ready for it.”
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