An unfortunate common occurrence in recent seasons with LeBron James has been an uptick in injuries. More specifically, it’s less of an uptick in injuries and more of an uptick in recovery time, which isn’t surprising given his age.
After breaking the all-time scoring record last Tuesday, LeBron James has not played since and will miss Monday’s game against the Blazers, all with left foot soreness. It’s his third straight missed game.
James is officially OUT against the Blazers. He was icing his feet immediately after about a half-hour on the court. https://t.co/4lyfcKynM1— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) February 13, 2023
Once a seemingly indestructible being, perhaps the one sign of LeBron’s mortality is that he can’t quite shrug off or play through the injuries he once could. Some of it hasn’t been under his control, but since the start of the 2020-21 season, LeBron has had six instances of at least five consecutive games missed. Include the 2018-19 season and it’s eight times while in purple and gold.
For comparison, that occurred just three TOTAL times in the entirety of his career before coming to Los Angeles. Yes, really. And one of those was his mid-season sabbatical to Miami after returning to Cleveland in the 2014-15 season which wasn’t even entirely injury-based.
The latest injury from LeBron raised eyebrows if this was going to be another instance of an ill-timed injury. And while it’s not great that he went and had an MRI done on his left foot, the fact it came back clean is encouraging.
But James has missed three games since breaking the all-time scoring record and with the All-Star break coming up, it felt possible that he could sit out until that break and look to come back healthy for a second-half push.
It doesn’t appear, however, that this injury will keep LeBron out for long. While it is one that has bothered him, as Dave McMenamin of ESPN noted on Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective podcast, there’s a good chance he returns in the coming week.
“The things we see in the locker room are him getting it stretched out. It’s his left foot. The team’s terming it a left ankle injury but, for me, from what I’ve seen...it appears to be the foot more so than the ankle. Now, it was so serious that he went for an MRI this week which came back clean, which is good. Darvin Ham said there was one area of irritation, kind of vaguely. Don’t really know what that means.
I don’t think he’s going to miss the All-Star Game. I don’t think he’s going to miss these next two games prior to the All-Star break. He could miss the Portland game. Lisa Salters reported on the Saturday night broadcast that perhaps the Pelicans game at home is more likely. I reported that the Portland game was 50-50.”
Update: Prior to Monday’s game, Darvin Ham said similar.
Darvin Ham says “in all likelihood” LeBron James should play Wednesday in the Lakers final game before the All-Star break.— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) February 14, 2023
There are two noteworthy aspects about the upcoming games for the Lakers. Both the Blazers and Pelicans are directly above the Lakers in the standings. Portland is 1.5 games ahead of Los Angeles and New Orleans is in the seventh seed, but just three games ahead of the Lakers. These are very important games for the race for the play-in.
Simultaneously, it appears the Lakers might actually have a deep enough team now to absorb LeBron not playing for a short time. Going into Golden State, albeit against a team minus Steph Curry, and winning without LeBron was as impressive a victory as the team’s had this year.
As important as the games are, it may not be the worst idea to let him take advantage of the upcoming All-Star break, rest up and get ready for a push. But knowing it’s LeBron and he’s superhuman still, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s back on the court this week, which certainly isn’t a bad thing.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.