LeBron stays fit for postseason
He swims laps and takes yoga and Pilates classes.
Apparently, this is the secret to James’ ability to stay strong during the grind of the NBA season. He ranked sixth in the regular season in total minutes and his 43.4 minutes per game in the playoffs is second only to the 43.5 averaged by Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng.
“I just tried to do stuff to stay above the curve,” James said after practice Saturday. “I took Pilates classes, yoga classes, swimming at auditoriums back home.
“I can’t tell you exactly where it was at. It’s a secret place. We hold a secret society over there. We don’t tell too many people.”
James played 3,063 minutes in the regular season through 79 games. Through the playoffs, he’s totaled 521 minutes. In the Heat’s Game 4 OT victory over the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals, he played 50 minutes.
The playoffs don’t have back-to-back games like in the regular season, so Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is comfortable giving him a heavier load. The Eastern Conference finals resume Sunday after a three-day break with the series tied 1-1. As much as anyone, James has appreciated the time off. During the regular season, he averaged 30 points with at least three days of rest.
“If you had to play back-to-backs in the postseason, there is no way I could play 45 minutes per game,” James, who is averaging 25.4 points, 9.2 rebounds and five assists in the playoffs. “It would never happen. But with the time you get off, it definitely helps the body recover. At the same time, it’s whatever it takes.
“I feel like, personally, if I’m not hurting the team playing big minutes than I should be on the floor. If I’m out there dogging it and not playing at a high level defensively with the team and I’m playing these big minutes than I should come out and sit on the bench.”
James, Dwyane Wade(notes) and Chris Bosh(notes) haven’t received a break from practice during the layoff. Spoelstra said the three All-Stars have shown leadership by setting the “proper habits and teamwork that are needed to participate in practice.”
Not getting a breather during practice isn’t an issue for James.
“I never ask him if he’s tired or if he can absorb that many minutes,” Spoelstra said. “He’s a well-conditioned athlete. In many ways he’s a freak of nature.”
Said James: “At night, you try to get off your legs as much as possible. It’s a fine line because you don’t want to get out of rhythm. You get in good work during the day and try to relax at night.”
At 26 years old, James has already logged 25,168 minutes in 626 regular-season games through eight NBA seasons. He has also played in 3,609 minutes in 83 playoff games and played a team-high 198 minutes through eight contests when Team USA won the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Will all these minutes eventually take a toll on James and cut his career short?
“I live in the moment,” James said. “I’m not sure I’m going to be playing tomorrow. I got to live for today. I can’t think about years and years from now. Through eight years I feel perfectly fine. But I take care of my body enough in the offseason and during the season where it doesn’t break down during the season.”