While load management works for some, and is both the growing and ever-controversial trend in the NBA, LeBron James isn’t having it.
The Los Angeles Lakers star, as long as he’s able to, is going to play.
“If I’m hurt, I don’t play. If not, I’m playing,” James said Friday night after the Lakers’ 95-80 win against the Miami Heat at the Staples Center, via ESPN. “That’s what has always been my motto.”
James, though, didn’t want to bring up Clippers star Kawhi Leonard — who has been at the center of the load management conversation this week — or anyone else.
“LeBron’s healthy, LeBron’ll play,” James said, via ESPN. “That’s all I’ll talk about. I don’t talk about nobody else but me.”
The load-management debate surfaced again this week after the Clippers announced that Leonard would sit out the front end of back-to-back games, which drew immense criticism almost instantly. The Clippers were even fined $50,000 by the NBA after coach Doc Rivers said Leonard “feels great,” something that contradicted both what the team and the league said previously about Leonard dealing with a minor knee injury.
Leonard miss their loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday, then returned to lead the Clippers past the Trail Blazers on Thursday, looking “well-rested” while he did so, according to Portland coach Terry Stotts.
Though load management seems to be working for Leonard, who has a long, tumultuous history with injuries, it apparently isn’t for James. He isn’t alone, either. Houston Rockets star James Harden shared similar thoughts on the issue on Friday, too.
“Even if I’m a little banged up, I try to push through it to a certain extent,” Harden said. “Have you ever seen me not play because of load management?”
James is off to a hot start with the Lakers so far this season, averaging 26 points, 10.5 rebounds and 7.8 assists in their 7-1 start. He looks like he hasn’t lost a step, either, and appears bound and determined to lead the Lakers to the postseason after missing it last spring.
The 34-year-old, now in his 17th season in the NBA, has had coaches try to get him on a load management-type schedule in the past, too. Yet as long as he’s still able to play, he said, he wants to be out there. He can rest later.
“You know how many times me and [coach Tyronn Lue] got into it in Cleveland when he wanted to sit me and I wanted to play?” James said, via ESPN. “I’m healthy, I play. I probably got a good 45 years to not play basketball.”
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