OAKLAND, Calif. – LeBron James’ MRI exam confirmed a slight left groin strain and the Los Angeles Lakers’ superstar will be listed as day-to-day, the team announced Wednesday.
The injury, a rare occurrence for the four-time MVP, occurred in the third quarter of the Lakers’ 127-101 victory against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday.
“Obviously, we want him back soon as possible,” coach Luke Walton said after the game, “but we also will be very cautious when we bring him back.”
James has not missed a game this season, but will not make the trip for the Lakers’ next game Thursday in Sacramento.
In his first game against the Warriors as a member of the Lakers, the 33-year-old lost control of the ball on a drive attempt in the third quarter and appeared to slip on the floor as he plummeted to the hardwood while overextending his left leg. He managed to tip the ball out to teammate Lonzo Ball, but he immediately reached for his groin area.
And as he got back up on defense, he experienced another issue.
“Then, I felt it coming down the court and actually overextended it again back on defense,” James said. “So, just an unfortunate play.”
After securing the defensive stop, Walton promptly called a timeout to get James off the floor. The Lakers’ marquee player tried to stretch out the injured area standing on the court, where he was seen saying, “I felt something pop.”
He continued stretching as he took a seat on the bench, but eventually decided to undergo an evaluation and he retreated to the locker room.
Opposing players typically head for the tunnel exit behind the basket near the Warriors’ bench because that’s where the visiting locker room is located. However, James took the tunnel behind the Lakers’ bench and had to walk all the way around the corridors of the arena to get to the locker room.
“Yeah, [an arena worker] told me to go that way. They made me take the long route” James told Yahoo Sports while laughing. “I know what they were doing.”
Throughout his 16-year NBA career, James has been impressively durable. Of the 1,264 games his teams have played, James competed in 1,177 of them, a 93 percent clip.
“It’s pretty rare for me to have an injury, period,” James said. “ … We have a great medical staff here, I have a great trainer, we’ll get to it. Obviously, I did a couple exercises to see if I could continue to go, but I didn’t feel like it would benefit my team or me, so I just came back and got a jumpstart on the rehab.”
A groin strain earlier this season kept Warriors guard Stephen Curry out of action for three weeks.
“No, me with injuries, I’m never too concerned about them,” James said. “I was able to walk off on my own power. I felt a pop. [I wanted to] see if I could stretch it a few times to see if it would relieve, but it didn’t.”
If the Lakers end up without James for a couple of games, Walton says he feels good about the Lakers’ chances.
“Our team is much better now than we were to start the season,” he said. “So, it will get a lot more challenging for us if he misses some real time, but I’m also very confident in our group that they’ll continue to step up and battle.”
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