Not only did the Los Angeles Lakers lose to their rivals in that of the Clippers on Christmas night, star forward LeBron James aggravated the groin injury that forced him to miss his first game of the season earlier in the week.
James is not terribly concerned after suffering the injury taking a charge from Clippers guard Patrick Beverley. However, there’s a history that suggests concern should be at a high level in the City of Angels.
Here’s why: The definition of pristine health throughout the vast majority of his career, the past calendar year has set James back some.
- LeBron suffered a torn left groin on Christmas Day last season, missing a career-high 27 games in the process.
- This derailed Los Angeles’ playoff aspirations and led to questions about whether the game’s greatest could be on the verge of breaking down.
- The latest injury is not as severe and is on the right side of James’ groin. That has led to optimism that this will be a short-term injury.
- However, the groin is fickle for athletes. That’s true even when we’re talking about an all-time great athlete who is still in peak physical condition.
Following up: As noted above, groin injuries have a way of lingering. Unless completely healed, aggravation and/or a more severe injury could take hold.
- The Lakers have to be happy that James’ latest injury has been described as nothing more than discomfort. That’s the good news.
- The issue here is that James has made it clear he’s not into the idea of “load management” or whatever they are calling it these days. Hence, him being active on Christmas despite a questionable status heading in.
- James is not one to take nights off. He’s going to go if he’s anywhere near 100%. That was made clear by the King following Wednesday night’s loss to the Clippers. He felt fine heading in, or so James thought.
“I felt healthy going into the game,” James said Wednesday evening, via ESPN. “I got kneed in the groin taking a charge from Pat Bev, and it kind of set me right back to where I was five days ago.”
In the midst of his 17th season, James barely missed any action during his time with the Cavaliers and Heat. That included the future Hall of Famer sitting out a grand total of 67 games in 15 seasons.
This is an important note: At nearly 35 years old (Dec. 30), James has played a whole lot of basketball in his career. More than any player in the league.
- Given his status as a perennial championship contender, James’ minutes are not anywhere near limited in comparison to other star players.
- Here’s a dude that’s now played in 239 career playoff games. That’s the equivalent of about three full regular seasons.
- Add in international competition, and this is magnified even further. Think Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry (both injured) in Northern California. Then, add about six more seasons of NBA experience. It’s been a workload unlike anything we’ve seen in the history of the Association.
James’ most-recent injury seems relatively minor in the grand scheme of things. He’s also playing absolutely tremendous basketball, cementing the King’s status as one of the greatest athletes in sports history.
Even then, Father Time catches up to everyone. We’re seeing it with another all-time great in that of Tom Brady in the NFL.
Sure we’re looking at this latest setback being ho-hum in a vacuum. But when we add in these other factors, one has to wonder if James is in the midst of breaking down.
How he recovers from said injury and whether more injury issues pop up as the season progresses will tell us a lot about both James’ long-term future in the NBA and the Lakers’ title aspirations this season.
Just don’t gloss over “groin discomfort” as being something trivial for James and his Lakers. That’s the biggest takeaway here.