LeBron James has been clear about one thing this season: He doesn’t like load management. In early November, amid a hot start for the Los Angeles Lakers, James said after a game that as long as he wasn’t hurt, he’d be playing.
James hasn’t let up on that position. On Sunday, he actually doubled down, reiterating that he will play if he’s healthy because he feels it’s his obligation to the fans — especially the kids — who come to see him.
LeBron doesn’t believe in load management— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) December 16, 2019
“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” 👑 pic.twitter.com/ASDwC9vuFB
“Why wouldn’t I play if I’m healthy? It doesn’t make any sense to me, personally. I mean, I don’t know how many games I’ve left in my career. I don’t know how many kids that may show up to a game that are there to see me play.”
You might imagine that someone like James, a 17-year NBA veteran who is about to turn 35 and is coming off the first injury-plagued season of his career, might be in favor of load management. It could help him avoid injuries and stay in the NBA longer, which at his age is likely a goal.
James isn’t having it. He got into the NBA to play, and that’s what he’s going to do until he can’t (or doesn’t want to) anymore. He’s still LeBron, after all, and that name (and the guy attached to it) still means something to kids who love the game. James doesn’t want to let them down, or any fan who comes to see him play.
Basketball players in today’s NBA have to walk a fine line. They have to balance doing what’s best for their health and their team with possibly letting fans down when they come to a game. For now, James’ approach is heavy on the fan angle. Hopefully that doesn’t come back to bite him later this season.
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