First, let’s lead with the good news: Anthony Davis did not make his strained groin seriously worse by playing on it in Game 6 of the first round of the NBA playoffs, despite re-aggravating it after a few minutes of limping around on one leg before leaving the floor. He is expected to be back on track health-wise in a couple of weeks.
From the sound of things, however, the Lakers and Davis are lucky things didn’t turn out much, much worse. Davis told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports that he was just as limited (or maybe even more) than he looked during the handful of minutes he did try to give it a go:
“I couldn’t move to my right,” Davis told Yahoo Sports after the Phoenix Suns eliminated them in six games. “That’s why I reacted that way [in the first quarter] when [Devin] Booker drove left and I had to slide to my right. That s*** hurt. There was nothing I could do, but I just wanted to be out there for my team so bad.”
Davis deserves credit for trying to play through, but based on what he’s saying, it’s more clear than ever that the Lakers really should have tried harder to stop him from doing so. Given Davis’ status as de-facto co-president of basketball operations with LeBron and considering the stakes, Davis likely was given the leeway to make his own decision, but even a few of his teammates reportedly tried to get him to re-consider, according to Haynes:
Davis chose to play even with some of his teammates against the idea, sources said.
“Me going out there didn’t have anything to do with me trying to be tough; I felt I owed it to my team to try to be out there with them,” Davis told Yahoo Sports. “I knew the only way I was going to be healthy enough to play was to get some rest, but time wasn’t on my side. So, I tried to give it a go. I don’t regret anything. I’ll be fine. Our team will be fine. I like our chances when healthy.”
Davis’ mindset is admirable, but again, both he and the team are just really lucky he didn’t do more long-term damage. LeBron James has said that he’s never felt quite the same after his groin tear, and this could have led to Davis sustaining the same type of injury. Thankfully it didn’t.
At least next season, instead of coming in behind the proverbial 8 ball from a health/wear and tear perspective, Davis and his teammates will have a full offseason this year to rest, recover and mount up for another championship chase. Hopefully that will allow them to avoid this type of scenario in the future, but if it doesn’t, maybe this close call will at least teach the Lakers a lesson, and potentially get them to exercise more caution next time.