LeBron still shuns load management: I 'feel worse when I play low minutes'
LeBron James doesn't intend to curtail his workload to mitigate potential injuries despite entering his 19th NBA season with over 61,000 minutes - regular season and playoffs combined - to his credit.
"I don't play the game thinking about injuries," James said Monday, according to ESPN's Dave McMenamin. "And I also feel worse when I play low minutes."
James' career average of 38.2 minutes per game is the 15th highest in NBA history. He also ranks sixth on the all-time minutes played list, although none of the players ahead of him - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Kidd - boast a higher per-game workload.
James has averaged 34.5 minutes per game since joining the Los Angeles Lakers in 2018, including a career-low 33.4 per game in 2020-21. Still, his extraordinary ability to stay healthy has shown cracks. James missed 58 regular-season contests over the two most recent pandemic-shortened campaigns, accounting for over a quarter of his team's games.
The 17-time All-Star suffered an ankle injury in March that limited him during the Lakers' first-round loss to the Phoenix Suns. He continued his rehab for the ailment into the offseason, but he admitted Monday that initially his ankle "wasn't responding how I would like it to respond."
However, James is ready to go for Tuesday's season opener versus the Golden State Warriors.
"I got to a point where I didn't feel any sharp pains anymore, and my flexibility was back to where it was before," he said. "That's when I knew I could get back on the floor."