Shortly after LeBron James suffered an ankle injury in the Lakers’ loss to the Hawks on Saturday, the team announced that he would not be speaking to the media after the game, and it was for good reason: Dave McMenamin of ESPN reported that James was getting an MRI on his right ankle. While head coach Frank Vogel declined to give any specifics beyond that — “He’s got an ankle injury, and that’s all the information I have at this time,” Vogel said — Adrian Wojnarowski reported that James’ X-rays were negative, but that he had a high ankle sprain:
High-ankle sprain for LeBron James, out indefinitely, source tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 20, 2021
The Lakers confirmed Woj’s report in an announcement shortly afterwards, and James spoke out on social media:
Nothing angers and saddens me more than not being available to and for my teammates! I’m hurt inside and out right now. ♂️. The road back from recovery begins now. Back soon like I never left. #ThekidfromAKRON— LeBron James (@KingJames) March 21, 2021
Our own Dr. Brar touched on how long that road might be for this injury in his latest video:
And NBA injury analyst Jeff Stotts provided some additional context:
Re: LeBron: Over the last seven 82-game seasons, the average missed time for an isolated high ankle sprain is ~10 games. However the variability is high and a quicker return is possible.— Jeff Stotts (@InStreetClothes) March 21, 2021
After the game, Montrezl Harrell criticized Hawks veteran Solomon Hill for the play that injured James.
“I really don’t feel like it was a loose ball play, and he had to go through his leg to get the ball,” Harrell said. “I don’t know how you feel like that’s a loose ball and go after a loose ball, but like I said, that’s neither here nor there, man. I don’t think it’s one of those plays where he tried to do it, but at the end of the day I still feel like it’s one of those things that you’ve got to look at, because it was a crucial point in the game.
“Yes, he (LeBron) still hit a big-time three in the corner on the next play, but at the end of the day, those are the things you’ve got to look at,” Harrell continued. “I feel like we’re quick to look at it when a guy is shooting a three, so why can’t we look at it in that instance right there? So that’s all I’m saying about that.”
Bron appears to turn his ankle, stays in the game and hits a three, then heads to the locker room pic.twitter.com/OdTrDW77o1— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 20, 2021
Lakers point guard Dennis Schröder echoed Harrell’s comments
Dennis Schröder said it was an “unnecessary play” for Solomon Hill to dive into LeBron’s right leg the way he did.— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) March 20, 2021
For his part, Hill denied that the play was malicious.
Whatever the case may be, the crisis seemed to be averted when James re-tied his shoes and immediately checked back into the game and HIT A THREE, but after one defensive possession James quickly called a timeout and walked off the floor with athletic trainer Mike Mancias, knocking over a chair in frustration as he headed to the locker room. His co-star, Anthony Davis — out with his own Achilles and calf injuries — soon went back to check on his friend before returning to the bench without James, who was not in the locker room when players arrived there following the loss.
Soon after James left the game, the Lakers announced that he would miss the rest of the contest with what they are so far only calling a “right ankle injury.” James has been listed on the Lakers injury report with a sore or sprained left ankle for every single game but the team’s opener against the LA Clippers, but this was clearly a new injury of the right leg, with Hill appearing to (inadvertently) land on James’ ankle and twist it.
James has only missed one full game this season so far, and is averaging 25.8 points, 8 assists and 8.1 rebounds while leading the Lakers to the second seed in the Western Conference going into the game vs. the Hawks.
The Lakers next game will see them host the Phoenix Suns for the second part of their current back-to-back at Staples Center on Sunday night. Stay tuned for updates on James’ status for that one.