On Christmas day, LeBron James faced the reigning NBA champions, theGolden State Warriors, for the first time in the 2018-19 NBA season as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers started the game strong and ended up beating the mighty Warriors with a 26-point lead. Unfortunately, James left the game with an injury.
When he faced the media after the game, LeBron James didn’t look like a player who suffered an injury. However, the MRI result confirmed a strained left groin, and the Lakers superstar is listed day-to-day. James’ availability will undeniably be vital for the Lakers as they are only two games ahead of the Western Conference No. 9 seed San Antonio Spurs.
In his second stint in Cleveland, the Cavaliers posted an embarrassing 4-23 record when LeBron James was not on the floor. However, the Lakers and the Cavaliers are two different teams. In a post-game interview, Lakers Head Coach Luke Walton revealed that since acquiring James in free agency, they have already been planning for strategies to win games when he needs to rest or suffers an injury.
“This is what we try to plan for — not that [James] gets hurt, but being able to play and win and compete when he’s not on the floor,” Walton said, via ESPN.
“That’s a process, and our team is much better than at the start of the season. So, it’ll 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.”
LeBron James' injury history — he rarely misses games — is remarkable https://t.co/iejCCfyHGn— World News Now (@MomentaryReview) December 26, 2018
Like Coach Luke Walton, the Lakers’ young core doesn’t seem to be concerned about the possibility of losing the best basketball player on the planet for an extended time due to injury. Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball said that they have been dealing with injuries and suspensions since the start of the 2018-19 NBA season. Ball reminded everyone in the league that the Lakers aren’t all about James and that there are lots of good players on their roster.
Lakers power forward Kyle Kuzma shared the same sentiment as Lonzo Ball, saying that they could find ways to win games with or without LeBron James on the floor.
“We’re great players, on our way to trying to be great players. It’s all about that next-up mentality and having a will to win.”
LeBron James’ absence could end up as a blessing in disguise for the Lakers’ young core as it could help them boost their confidence and improve their overall game. Like Brandon Ingram, watching on the sideline could give James more insight on how he can maximize his effectiveness when playing alongside his young teammates.
The Lakers’ next game will be against the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night at Golden 1 Center.