In a recent interview with reporters, Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James admitted that playing in the NBA's bubble setting in Orlando, Florida, has been the hardest thing he's had to do in a professional career that has lasted 17 years.
As quoted by ESPN, James made these comments on Tuesday as he and teammate Anthony Davis talked about the extraordinary circumstances that the NBA has dealt with this year. These included the four-and-a-half-month period in which the league's operations were on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the workarounds that allowed the 2019-20 season to continue in a safe, virus-free setting.
After Davis acknowledged that the Lakers' quest for a title might be the "toughest" in league history from a "mental standpoint," James agreed with these sentiments, describing the situation as the "most challenging thing" he's done in his pro basketball career.
"I knew when I was coming what we were coming here for. I would be lying if I sat up here and knew that everything inside the bubble, the toll that it would take on your mind and your body and everything else, because it's been extremely tough. But I'm here for one reason and one reason only, and that's to compete for a championship."
As pointed out by CBS Sports, James' admission was "really saying something," considering that during his second stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he helped the team come back from a 3-1 deficit to win their first NBA championship against the Golden State Warriors. The publication added that the four-time MVP's remarks also underscored how tough things have been for players and coaches in Orlando, considering how they have spent most of the last three months away from their families.
"Sure, they have nice amenities, but such an extended period of isolation and repetition is going to be taxing for anyone, including professional athletes," the outlet continued.
In addition, CBS Sports pointed out that James had emphasized from the get-go that he was not a "huge fan" of the bubble. Aside from the multiple comments he made about missing his family and thinking about leaving Orlando, the 16-time All-Star was reportedly among the driving forces when the Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers both voted to boycott the rest of the playoffs following the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.
As both James and Davis were open about the challenges players have faced since the NBA restarted operations toward the end of July, the outlet also mentioned that this "strain" might be among the key reasons why the 2020-21 season could be delayed until sometime next year, with live crowds hopefully back in attendance at each team's home arena. This, as explained, shows how the well-being of the league's players "[cannot] be understated."