With their loss on Friday to the Brooklyn Nets, the Los Angeles Lakers are officially out of playoff contention for the 2018-19 NBA season. This marks the first time since LeBron James’ second season in the league that he will be missing the postseason, while also breaking the four-time MVP’s streak of eight straight Finals appearances, per CBS Sports. While many of the struggles that led to the Lakers’ elimination have been blamed on the groin injury that forced James to sit out 17 straight games, a Los Angeles-area physical therapist recently suggested that LeBron might have returned to the court much sooner than he should have.
According to Complex, the above assertion was made by Dr. Karen Joubert, owner of Joubert Physical Therapy in Beverly Hills, who took to Instagram to commend James for the sacrifices he made so he could rejoin the Lakers without missing too much time. While Joubert’s post has since been deleted, Complex was able to quote most of her caption and share a screenshot of the post, which featured the doctor posing alongside James in what looks to be a Lakers training facility.
“I want you all to know how bad his injury was and is, the pain he endured,” Joubert wrote.
“Along with his amazing trainer, Mike Mancias, he was on the court in 6 weeks, it should have been 6 months. Unselfishly, he endured pain, pain, pain. He did not want to let the Lakers down, the fans down. But I know what he went through! I learned about determination, the will to win, how to get the job done. He is a force to be reckoned with. @kingjames @mikemancias1.”
LeBron James will not be in the #NBA play-offs for the first time since 2005…
What's gone wrong for him and the LA Lakers?
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) March 23, 2019
Despite how he has supposedly been playing through a lot of pain since he returned from his injury on January 31, LeBron James has continued to play at a high level for the Lakers, who now have a 31-41 record following the loss to the Nets. Over 52 games this season, James has posted averages of 27.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 8.1 assists, which, as shown on the Lakers’ page on Basketball-Reference, make him the Lakers’ team leader in all three categories.
While the Lakers have not made any statements confirming that James’ groin injury was serious enough for him to miss several months of action, the team has taken to resting LeBron and having him sit out entire games from time to time. However, Lakers head coach Luke Walton recently said that the idea of shutting James down for the rest of the season has not been discussed, given that the Lakers are “much better” when their superstar forward is playing, as noted by ESPN.