LeBron James finally made his return to the floor for the LA Lakers after an extended absence due to an ankle injury. The Lakers fell short, but he played well in his first game back in over a month. However, the chatter around James concerns comments he made after the contest.
Lakers stumble in LeBron James’ return
LeBron James ended the longest injury absence of his illustrious career on Friday night facing the Sacramento Kings.
Early on in the contest, James showed some of the expected rust from not playing in 41 days. Despite that, he found his groove in the second quarter as he helped the Lakers erase a 15-point deficit to grab a one-point lead at the half.
James improved as the game progressed along as he played 32 minutes without much hindrance. The Lakers were in the position to snag the win, holding a 10-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
However, LA let that slip in the final frame behind a nearly four-minute scoring drought late in the game. The Lakers had an opportunity to tie or take the lead on their final possession, but James missed his 3-point attempt with under five seconds left.
It wasn’t the result LA hoped to garner, but there was the strong silver lining behind James’ performance. He put up an all-around outing with 16 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and a block.
Beyond that, it was what he said after the loss that has drawn the most attention.
LeBron James admits the honest truth about his health that shouldn’t concern Lakers fans
After James finished playing his first game in almost six weeks, he held a candid interview with the media.
The 36-year-old openly discussed the challenges that came with being sidelined for that length of time. James called that period the most difficult mental hurdle of his NBA career, but that wasn’t what grabbed the bulk of the attention.
He admitted that he didn’t recover fully from his ankle injury and didn’t believe he will ever be 100% healthy in his career.
“I knew I wasn’t going to get back to 100 percent. It’s impossible,” James said via CBS Sports. “I don’t think I will ever get back to 100 percent in my career.”
It’s a common misconception that a professional athlete can return to “100%” healthy after an injury or surgery. That is simply never the case as the physical demand from the sport has a lasting impact. Players are always performing with lingering injuries that are kept out of public knowledge.
James can return to top form, but his physical ability will never be fully healed. It’s a matter of him getting the most out of his treatment and rest that he can get at this point in his career.
The four-time league MVP will likely move past his ankle injury, but the notion that he or any other athlete is “100%” healthy is a complete facade.
Lakers aiming to avoid play-in playoff tournament
With James back in the fold, the Lakers’ focus shifts directly toward the playoff picture.
LA is currently sitting in the sixth overall spot in the Western Conference standings due to the Dallas Mavericks holding the tiebreaker. Meanwhile, they are only a game ahead of the Portland Trail Blazers.
James and the Lakers haven’t voiced any concern, but the clock is ticking on the regular season with nine games left. LA has some difficult challenges left with matchups against the Trail Blazers, Denver Nuggets, LA Clippers, Phoenix Suns, and New York Knicks.
The pathway ahead for the Lakers is daunting, which is fueling plenty of doubt concerning their NBA title chances. It’s an opportunity for them to get into a rhythm before the playoffs.