LeBron James on load management: “Why wouldn’t I play if I’m healthy?”

LeBron James
ATLANTA, GEORGIA – DECEMBER 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts after hitting a basket in the second half against the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena on December 15, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Going into this Lakers season, many wondered if the Lakers would possibly use a similar “load management” approach used by the Toronto Raptors and Kawhi Leonard in regards to their two superstars, LeBron James and Anthony Davis. LeBron is obviously in the late years of his career at the age of 34, while Davis has had nagging injuries at times in his young career, especially with his shoulder.

The hot topic of load management is once again being brought up, as the Lakers are currently first in the Western Conference at 24-3, and could probably afford to lose some games as a result of resting one of either LeBron James or Anthony Davis.

LeBron was asked about this after Sunday’s win against the Atlanta Hawks, to which he had to say the following (via Yahoo Sports):

(Transcription by Bleacher Report)
“Why wouldn’t I play if I’m healthy? I don’t know how many games I got left in my career. I don’t know how many kids that may show up to a game that are there to come see me play, and if I sit out, then what?”

You have to admire LeBron’s no-nonsense approach to the idea of load management while he is healthy, although many have wondered if LeBron was missing games while healthy towards the end of the 2018-19 season. I’d argue that I don’t think he ever fully returned to 100% last year following his groin injury, as I think he came back a little early to try and help push the Lakers to a playoff berth.

Even though it’s LeBron’s non-stop desire to win that has currently helped the Lakers to a Western Conference-best record of 24-3, you have to wonder if this will come back to bite him at the end of the season following another 60-or-so more games. The Lakers’ neighbors across the hall have used load management to take care of Kawhi Leonard’s legs early in this season, which, most recently, caused the Clippers to lose on the road to the lowly Chicago Bulls.

However, the Lakers and Clippers aren’t focused on games in December. They’re worried about games in June. I personally want to see LeBron James in every game, and if that’s the case, maybe he will be able to rest in April with the Lakers clinching a top two or three seed in the West. But with the very apparent success of the approach seen in the Toronto Raptors’ season with Kawhi, it definitely makes you wonder if this is the right thing to do given LeBron’s age.

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