The Los Angeles Lakers steadily fell down the Western Conference standings after LeBron James‘ ankle injury. He managed to return in time to keep the Lakers in the playoff picture. However, James couldn’t hide his utter disappointment around it all.
LeBron James suffers high ankle sprain
In his 18th season, James continued to show no decline in his performance.
Despite Anthony Davis remaining sidelined for an extended period, James kept the Lakers locked into the Western Conference’s second-best record. All that quickly shifted on March 20 after he suffered a right high ankle sprain.
The injury occurred after Atlanta Hawks forward Solomon Hill dove for the loose ball, landing on the four-time league MVP’s ankle. James attempted to stay in the game but exited after the next possession.
The 36-year-old missed nearly the next six weeks, where the Lakers held an 8-12 record over 20 games. In his second game back, he suffered a setback that led him to sit out the next six contests before playing the final two regular-season games.
With that situation in hindsight, James finally voiced his disappointment.
LeBron James reveals disappointing truth about his ankle injury
As the Lakers head into the play-in game against the Warriors, it’s given James a chance to reflect on the difficult 2020-21 regular season.
James discussed the injury after suffering a minor ankle tweak in the season-finale win over the New Orleans Pelicans. The star forward voiced that he felt like he was playing some of his best basketball before the high ankle sprain.
“I was playing some of the best basketball of my career before the injury and it was not – it wasn’t like a self-inflicted wound; it wasn’t something I could control,” LeBron said via Harrison Faigen of Sliver Screen and Roll. “It wasn’t like I was putting in the work and my body failed me. Literally had a grown man diving at my leg for a loose ball and here’s the injury. You know, and so I had to pay the price of that and take my time.
“It cost me several weeks of the season, which I still think back and still hate it. I’m still not comfortable with it and gave much thought to it as to what the season could have been for me personally. I hated every moment of that. It is what it is.”
James clearly isn’t happy about how the injury unfolded. The Hawks forward immediately tweeted out after that game that he had no ill intention of hurting the Lakers star.
Nonetheless, James was playing some of his best basketball as he was in the thick of the MVP conversation. He had the Lakers pushing toward possibly securing the top spot in the Western Conference playoff picture.
All that momentum was halted, leading Los Angeles to fall into the play-in game. James is no longer sulking over it but instead focused on the challenging task ahead.
Los Angeles eyeing unprecedented NBA title push
The injury aside, James and the Lakers finally know the pathway ahead to repeat as NBA champions.
Los Angeles will need to take an unprecedented journey toward competing for another title as no team below the sixth seed has accomplished that. If the Lakers win Wednesday’s game, it puts them in a first-round matchup against the second-seeded Phoenix Suns.
James remains hampered by his ankle injury, but it’s something that he’s ready to battle through. Meanwhile, Anthony Davis finally looks healthy as he’s back to being a significant factor on both ends of the floor.
Ultimately, the Lakers will need their two stars to guide them forward if there is any hope of contending for another NBA title.