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LeBron James says he ‘feels worse playing low minutes.’ Does that make any sense?

There’s actually some concrete basis to the idea that LeBron James may feel healthier when he plays more minutes.

Los Angeles Lakers v Detroit Pistons Photo by Brian Sevald/NBAE via Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James is playing in his 19th season — and in addition to the regular season load he’s always carried — has amassed an astronomical number of high-intensity playoff minutes as well, considering he’s been to the NBA Finals nine times more often than not, shouldering the team’s highest workload on the way there.

With that in mind, there’s this constant notion from fans and media that LeBron needs to take time off and rest his aging body.

However, LeBron disagrees, stating prior to the Lakers’ opening game vs the Golden State Warriors that “I feel worse when I play low minutes.”

Now that James has missed 10 games due to various injuries despite playing the second-lowest minutes per game (34.5) of his career, it’s worth looking back at that statement. Does it have any basis in fact, or make sense on any level when it comes to what we know about athletic performance and conditioning? I discussed in the following video:

The statement may seem odd on the surface but based on the reasons discussed in the video, it’s not out of the question for LeBron. But for those still on the fence about the validity of LeBron’s comments, consider this: LeBron James has been committed to his mental and physical fitness since he was in high school. There’s clips of him as a sophomore speaking on how he needs to prepare himself for the demands of the game, and that mentality is a key part of why he’s still doing what he’s doing in year 19. If any athlete knows their body and understands strength conditioning, and fitness principles to the nth degree, it’s LeBron James. If his workload does tick up as the season goes along, it’s worth trusting that he and the team know what they’re doing.

Dr. Rajpal Brar, DPT has a doctorate in physical therapy from Northern Arizona University, and runs his own in-person and online sports medicine and performance business, 3CB Performance, in West LA and Valencia, CA in which he further combines his movement expertise and fitness training. He also works at a hospital — giving him experience with patients in the immediate healthcare setting and neurological patients (post stroke, post brain injury) — and has been practicing for 4 years. Brar is additionally training at UCLA’s mindful awareness research center (MARC), has a background in youth basketball coaching and analyzes the Lakers from a medical and skills perspective for Silver Screen and Roll and on his own YouTube Channel. You can follow him on Twitter at @3cbPerformance.

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