The Los Angeles Lakers will not repeat as champions without Anthony Davis. As preached from day one, health is the overwhelming priority for the Lakers. On Valentine’s Day against the Nuggets, we were holding our collective breaths as we watched AD reach for his Achilles area. Luckily, we did not witness a rupture, only a calf strain, and re-aggravation of his tendonosis.
But let’s be honest – this situation could have been much worse. We didn’t want it to be, but the possibility was there. This isn’t something we can lay at the feet of the Lakers or Anthony Davis. I trust the professionals in basketball health. If they say that the player is ready, I have no choice but to believe that. Even more important, I accept the weight of the player’s words too.
I still couldn’t help but get Kevin Durant vibes. We don’t have to rehash all of what took place before his Achilles’ tear. We can still ask ourselves if athletes should be totally comfortable with expressing the pain they experience. There is a bit of code for players to play through the pain. It can range from minor nicks to surgery-requiring ailments. It’s a tale as old as time that in which Lakers fans are familiar.
Even further back and heavier, we remember the lead-up before the moment Kobe Bryant had his career changed. We watched him play a historic amount of minutes on 34-year-old legs. ESPN’s Baxter Holmes eloquently chronicled the unfortunate injury suffered in 2013. He shared a crucial moment before the game in question:
Bryant arrives at his Newport Beach home at 2 a.m., stretches for 30 minutes and takes an ice bath — his normal routine. He feels sore, he says, and he notices his left Achilles is tight, but no more than it had been in the past.
Based on the last sentence, we can’t necessarily factor that into the rupture. One must still consider the signs early. Anthony Davis has to recognize the flags, and know when to call it day. It’s no secret that Davis is trying to shake the stigma that he is injury-prone. LeBron James talked about Davis’ mindset last season, on the Road Trippin Podcast:
“I watched him a lot in New Orleans where he would get these little nagging injuries, and he would be out games. He would get the shoulder, or he would get the ankle, or he would get the bump, whatever, and he would sit out. This year, no matter what injury he had, his a– came back on the floor.”
Davis echoed the same sentiment in an article by ESPN’s Dave McMenamin:
“The more I can do on the floor to help this team win, that’s what I try to do. I know what our goal is, I know what we’re trying to build. So the more I can try to stay on the floor, the more steps we move toward our goal.”
It’s an uphill battle to fight. You have the pressures of your own ideas and then the surrounding expectations. I feel for AD. I want him to be great and silence the critics. However, I don’t want this at the risk of a short career. The Lakers must be just as committed to this stance. If not, winning beyond this season could also be in jeopardy.