After missing the last 17 games dating back to Christmas Day, LeBron James made his highly anticipated return for the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday and it hardly looked like he skipped a beat.
In his first game back from a major groin injury. This man is actually the terminator.
Following the game, James admitted that he wasn’t 100 percent just yet, but he told reporters he was elated to be back on the floor after a grueling five-week recovery (via Lakers.com):
“I’m not there all the way as far as physically and then my timing, I told you postgame, is at like 80 percent right now, but it felt good to be 80 and just to be back on the floor and put on a Lakers uniform again. That’s what it’s all about, that’s why I’m here and I’m happy to be back.”
James said there were times during his rehab process where he thought he would be back sooner, but there were setbacks along the way that made it hard for him to stay positive at times. However, James said that he got through it with the help of his support system:
“How did I deal with it? Just trying to stay as positive as possible. I got a great support staff, from my family, from my friends, from my training staff. I just try to stay as positive as possible. I wasn’t positive every day throughout this whole process. I probably had more negative moments personally than positive, but when you’ve got a great support staff, it helps out a lot.
“There was times when I felt great, then a day or two later I didn’t feel so good. There were times I thought I could come back faster and be back quicker than I came back now, but it wasn’t reacting the right way so I just had to stay patient, which, you know, I’m not patient at all. I just put a lot of hard work into getting back out here.”
The most difficult part about all of this to him, though, was being sidelined for the longest period of his career since breaking his wrist in high school:
“I didn’t come here to sit on the bench. I love clothes, I love suits, but I didn’t come here to put on a suit every day. I came here to put on a jersey and some shorts, that’s what I came here to do. To lead a team the best way I know how, so that’s the frustration part, when you see your team struggle and you know how much you can help them, but you can’t do anything in a suit and tie.
“That’s where the negativity starts to creep into the mind.”
Hopefully that’s the last time James is sidelined for a long time, as the Lakers need him to make a late-season playoff push. With 30 games left in the season, the Lakers are a game back of the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
It won’t be easy to get one of the final postseason slots, but as long James is on the court, they have a chance.