LeBron James is one of the most well-trained professional sports athletes in the world. The King goes to great lengths to preserve his body and mind while on and off the NBA court. According to a report from Business Insider back in 2018, LeBron spends nearly 1.5 million a year on health and fitness regimens. LeBron is lucky to not have seen numerous major injuries during his career, but luck may have nothing to do with it. Due to his athletic ability and leadership, he’s seen as the leader of whatever team he’s on. All that would change on Saturday.
In the second quarter of the Lakers’ game against the Atlanta Hawks, Hawks player Solomon Hill fell into James’ right ankle. The pain was immediately felt as LeBron James went down straight to the floor. James would leave the court after staying in the game to hit a 3point shot. As James’ headed to the Lakers locker room, anger could be seen on the face of the 4x MVP. Without James returning, the Atlanta Hawks would go on to win the game, 99-94. After the game, LeBron James took to Twitter to address the issue of his injury.
“Nothing angers and saddens me more than not being available to and for my teammates!” James tweeted. “Back soon like I never left.”
Many Lakers fans and NBA players took issue with what some are calling “a dirty play.”
“That’s an unnecessary play to dive in the leg like that,” Dennis Schroder, Lakers point guard, said after the game to press.
“A guy dove for a loose ball, took his leg out from up under him,” Montrezl Harrell said. “I really don’t feel like it was one of those loose-ball plays. He had to go through his leg to get the ball, man. He was turned sideways. The ball was behind him. I mean, you’re jumping at an angle, going across this way, I mean, I don’t know how you feel that’s a loose ball.”
Fast forward to Sunday in the Lakers lost to the Phoenix Suns, 114-94. Without the star power of James, Anthony Davis, and Marc Gasol, it’s clear the Lakers are in a tough spot leading into the middle half of this season. The Los Angeles Lakers currently sit at third place in the NBA Western Conference and lack an offensive identity. Without their three best players, it’s hard to see them coming out of what may be a losing drought on the horizon.
The Lakers are trending downwards and proving to not be the capable NBA defending champs we all claimed them to be at the beginning of the season. Role players’ failures and chemistry issues are seeping into the threads of their iconic purple and gold uniforms. Frank Vogel, the Lakers head coach, has a tough road ahead of him. Vogel has often been able to coast on the backs of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but with both down, this may be one of Frank Vogel’s biggest challenges yet. It’s up to him now to will and rally his battle-ridden team to make a strong playoff push and not backslide.