LeBron James may be playing for a new team in the Los Angeles Lakers, but not much besides his uniform has changed on the court. “The King” still does it all for his team, and that means playing a lot of minutes. So far this season, he’s averaging nearly 35 minutes a night, and while
LeBron James may be playing for a new team in the Los Angeles Lakers, but not much besides his uniform has changed on the court. “The King” still does it all for his team, and that means playing a lot of minutes. So far this season, he’s averaging nearly 35 minutes a night, and while that would actually be a career-low, it still puts him among the league leaders.
Even though he’s about to turn 34 years old at the end of the month, LeBron isn’t worried about his heavy workload. Though he said he did understand why people — including Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant — would have their concerns. Via ESPN:
“I understand the logic behind it,” James said. “I understand what Magic and Kobe are saying because we want to continue to grow the young guys. We want to see how much our young guys can grow and be the best they can be. I mean, Magic and Kobe know who I am. I know who I am. They know what they’re going to get out of me.
“That is, you know what you’re going to get out of me every game. Am I going to play well every game? Am I going to shoot the ball well every game? No. But you know who I am, and when it’s time to — when it’s really, really, really money time, you know who is going to be there. So we got guys who just want to continue to develop and guys that continue to get better and better just from experience. They haven’t had a lot of experience. So I think people are trying to blow it out of proportion, like, ‘OK, why do you have LeBron if you don’t want to use him?’ They don’t understand the logic behind it.”
LeBron’s thoughts came in response to comments made by both Magic and Kobe in recent days. On a radio interview, the Lakers president said he doesn’t want the Lakers situation to become “Cleveland all over again,” while Kobe added that LeBron doing so much for the Lakers is “not the recipe for winning championship by no means.”
“It is a recipe to keep your head above water,” Bryant continued in an interview with Lakers All Access. “To give yourself a little breathing room, and now it’s going back to teaching how to play the way that we want to play,”
This is one of those situations where everyone is pretty much right. There are certainly reasons to be managing LeBron’s workload wisely. Even though he’s avoided injuries for most of his career, he’s nearly 34 and has been to the Finals eight seasons in a row, putting all sorts of extra miles on his legs. With the Lakers not ready to contend, there’s no reason to burn him out in his first regular season.
At the same time, the Lakers signed him in order to turn their franchise around and get back to the playoffs, and to do that they need him to play.
To this point it seems like the Lakers are doing a pretty good job in that regard, and the comments from Magic and Kobe are more heeding caution than addressing a serious problem.