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Medical Analysis: LeBron James’ left ankle sprain vs. the Pelicans

LeBron James turned his left ankle on Sunday and was clearly limited. How significant might the injury be for the Lakers star?

Los Angeles Lakers v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

LeBron James has been playing through left knee soreness for the better part of two months, and in a loss to the New Orleans Pelicans — a rollercoaster of a collapse that LeBron himself admitted was basically a microcosm of the Lakers’ entire season — he turned his left ankle in the second quarter, another malady for that already injured left leg.

James, as he tends to do, simply laced up his shoe tighter and played through the ankle inversion, using resistance bands at stoppages to keep the ankle moving and keep the ankle muscle activating.

However, he was clearly limited — particularly in the second half — where he was missing any burst into the lane and couldn’t close out defensively with any effectiveness. The potential seriousness of the injury was highlighted by James walking into his postgame interview very gingerly with his ankle wrapped, and commenting that “it felt horrible.”

With James' status in doubt vs the Mavericks — he’s literally listed as doubtful to play — the questions become simple: Just how serious could this injury be, is it similar to last season’s high ankle sprain, and what are the risks of James playing through it?

I did my best to answer those questions in the following video:

James has always had a near-superhuman injury resilience, and him missing any games during a critical stretch of the season that will make or break the Lakers’ already dwindling play-in chances may speak to the relative significance of the injury.

That being said, ankle inversion sprains can evolve quickly, so keep your eyes and ears peeled every day for updates (or just check my timeline on Twitter).

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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