Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James initially missed about 10 days with knee soreness and effusion (swelling), and recently commented that his knee is still sore after each day. Additionally, head coach Frank Vogel has inferred on multiple occasions that James will essentially be “day-to-day” for the rest of the season, and was most recently a game-time decision for Monday’s loss to the Raptors (he ultimately played).
Although LeBron’s level of play hasn’t suffered — offensively at least — as he’s now the leading scorer in the league, boosted by a pair of 50 point games that are the Lakers’ only two wins over the previous last 10 games.
Still, at some point the question becomes simple: With the Lakers’ season looking more and more like a trainwreck without much of a chance to contend, how risky is it for LeBron to keep playing through the knee soreness and should he be shut down? In my latest video, I took a closer look based on what we know:
If the Lakers’ massive slide continues — especially with the level of effort and focus they’ve shown over the past two games, with frankly embarrassing losses to the Phoenix Suns and Toronto Raptors where the game was over before the end of the 1st quarter — then the risk/reward calculation very well may change for James, even if it means foregoing the scoring title and not surpassing Karl Malone for second all-time in scoring until next season. But until then, it’s probably safe to assume he’s going to keep pushing through.
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.