Los Angeles Lakers superstar small forward LeBron James has never been one to mince words. He always speaks his mind, and the King made sure to keep that trend going after Los Angeles Clippers swingman Kawhi Leonard suffered an ACL injury in his right knee in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals versus the Utah Jazz.
Several star players have suffered injuries this season, and LeBron believes the NBA’s decision to start the 2020-21 season so quickly after the 2020 Finals concluded is the main reason.
LeBron James criticizes NBA’s decision to start season early
The NBA initially appeared likely to start the 2020-21 season on Martin Luther King Day. However, pressure from their television partners led to the decision to move up the start of the season to Dec. 22, and LeBron was never happy about it.
Both the Lakers and Miami Heat had the shortest offseason in sports history since they faced each other in the 2020 Finals at the Walt Disney World bubble. Game 6 of the 2020 Finals was on October 11, 2020.
LeBron and Lakers star power forward Anthony Davis suffered injuries during the 2020-21 regular season. While both All-Stars played in the 2021 playoffs, LeBron never got back to 100%, and Davis hurt his hamstring in Game 4 of the Lakers’ first-round matchup against the Phoenix Suns. A case can be made that the lack of rest LBJ and the Brow received last summer played a role in their bodies breaking down.
Despite losing in the first round of the playoffs for the first time in his legendary career, LeBron is still watching the postseason since he’s a fan of the game. Once he saw the news that Leonard suffered an ACL injury in his right knee, the four-time champion tweeted that proper rest could have prevented Leonard — and all the other stars who have missed time in the postseason — from getting hurt.
Kawhi Leonard could miss the rest of the 2021 playoffs
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Clippers fear Leonard has suffered an ACL injury in his right knee. As a result, the two-time Finals MVP could miss the rest of the 2021 playoffs.
LeBron claims he knew injuries would be high this season since the offseason was so short. Several high-caliber players, including Leonard, Davis, Jamal Murray, Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell, and James Harden, suffered lower-body injuries on non-contact plays in 2020-21.
While injuries happen every season, there were a plethora of them this season. Money clearly played a role in the NBA’s decision to start the 2020-21 season so quickly after the conclusion of the 2020 Finals. LeBron understands that the NBA is a business, but he wanted to protect the well-being of the players, which he called the “product of the game.”
It certainly isn’t a good look when LeBron — the face of the league — bashes the NBA. The good news for the Lakers is that both LeBron and Davis will get plenty of rest this offseason. The NBA will begin the 2021-22 regular season on October 19, returning to their normal calendar.
LeBron James is hoping for the best for Kawhi Leonard
LeBron and Leonard may be fierce rivals on the court, but the former is hoping the latter makes a speedy recovery. Since the word “tear” wasn’t attached to Leonard’s injury, he may have sprained his ACL and not tore it. However, not many pundits believe the two-time Defensive Player of the Year will play again this postseason.
If Leonard’s 2021 playoff run is over, he will finish with averages of 30.4 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 4.4 assists while shooting 57.3% from the field in 11 games against the Dallas Mavericks and Jazz. Both he and LeBron have put up stellar numbers since coming to LA.
Moving forward, LeBron is certainly hopeful that no other injuries occur in the 2021 playoffs. After all, we have already witnessed several gut-wrenching ones.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.