LeBron James’ Lakers tenure has been one increasingly filled with injuries, both the nagging kind and the ones that completely sideline him for stretches of games. It’s been the most apparent sign of Father Time starting to catch up on LeBron in recent seasons.
This season, LeBron has already missed a game — albeit on the second night of a back-to-back — with left foot soreness. It was an injury he was battling leading up to the game and served as both a legitimate chance to rest the injury and perhaps an opportunity to lessen the minutes he’ll play this season.
However, it’s not an injury that will be going away anytime soon. On Wednesday, LeBron spoke following shootaround and gave some details on the injury.
LeBron James says rest is the only way to get over his left foot pain, but says that he doesn’t have the luxury to take more time off. He says he will plays tonight against the Clippers.— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) November 9, 2022
The only built-in break in the NBA schedule is the All-Star break and that is long, long away. For now, the only way to handle this is to manage the injury throughout the coming weeks and months.
Last season when LeBron dealt with knee soreness that also sidelined him for many games, he said then that the only thing that could heal it completely would be rest which would not come before the season’s end.
Ironically, in trading for Russell Westbrook, the Lakers were supposed to be trading for a player that could shoulder the load if one of LeBron or Anthony Davis went down or, as is the case here, needed some time to manage an injury. Unfortunately, even for as well as Russ has played off the bench this year, that has not been a luxury the team has had in the two seasons with him on the roster.
For LeBron, this is simply how things are likely to be in the final years of his career. While he’s still performing at a high level when he plays, his body can’t handle the demands of an entire season at this point. Ideally, the Lakers would have the ability to absorb that injury built into their roster but they do not, leaving the team and LeBron playing a potentially dangerous game.