With a 20-14 record following their Christmas Day win over the Golden State Warriors, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers were fourth in the Western Conference.
Considering all of the new players that were learning how to play together, the Lakers were making great progress through the first two months of the 2018-19 NBA season.
Unfortunately, James’ groin strain injury forced him to miss 18 consecutive games, which was the most in his 16-year career.
As the Lakers will miss the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season, James reflected on that particular point, according to Howard Beck of Bleacher Report:
“My injury was the worst thing that could have happened to our team at that point in time,” James told B/R. “Because I have a month-to-month leadership [plan] of how I lead. And I was right on point.”
For the 34-year-old, it was difficult leading from the sidelines and he perfectly summed up how his injury ultimately impacted the Lakers in Year 1:
“You can lead a little bit in a suit,” he said, “but if you ain’t the coach, you can’t really. It’s different. You can’t do it.
“So being out 18 games, the longest of my career, was devastating,” he said, “not only to me personally, but to our team.”
For these Lakers, they cannot help but think how far they could have gone in the playoffs if they stayed relatively healthy. Along with James, Rajon Rondo and three out of the four members of the young core missed significant time.
While there is uncertainty heading into the offseason, James’ health is the top priority. With six months to prepare for his 17th season, James has described it as a ‘critical summer for myself’ to get the Lakers back into contention.