LeBron James has nobody to blame but himself for ankle injury

Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Lakers
Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Lakers / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Lakers have struggled to cement themselves as a true contender in the Western Conference despite getting mostly healthy seasons out of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. After the injuries these have suffered in recent years, it has been a pleasant surprise to see the duo be as durable as it has been.

That durability has been put to the test after Wednesday's loss to the Sacramento Kings. LeBron went back to the locker room late in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury and did not return. With this being the most important stretch of the season, the timing is not ideal for LeBron or the Lakers.

LeBron told reporters that he will be okay after the game and the injury has been described as wear and tear more than anything else. While the team has seemingly avoided the worst-case scenario, it does not change the fact that this scenario could have been avoided altogether.

LeBron James has nobody to blame but himself for ankle injury

Sometimes freak injuries happen in basketball and there is nothing you can do about it. If LeBron lands on his knee wrong, or rolls his ankle on another player's shoe then that is a freak injury. Those things happen and there is no way to fully prepare for them.

This is not a freak injury, this is a direct cause of the workload that LeBron has had this season. Many will be quick to blame Darvin Ham and the Lakers for this workload, but this has been LeBron's doing all season long.

LeBron played 29 minutes in the Lakers' season opener against the Denver Nuggets back in October. After the game, Ham told reporters that LeBron's workload would fall around that 29-minute mark all season. LeBron obviously disagreed, and because he is the most influential player in the world, he got his way.

LeBron has played 56 games and is averaging 35 minutes per game because that is what he wants to do. The Lakers have proven that they have no problem being extra cautious in the past, so there is nobody to point to other than LeBron for how much he has played this season.

As great and as important as LeBron is, the Lakers could have afforded to allow him to sit more, especially when Jarred Vanderbilt was healthy. LeBron has missed just eight games for the Lakers this season and the team is 4-4 in those games. Sure, the team is not as good when he isn't playing, but there have definitely been strategic moments where he could have sat.

We all love to applaud athletes for actually going out there and playing most of the games and not load managing. It is different with LeBron. He is 39 years old, and as much as he may want to suit up nearly every night, he and the team needs to be realistic about how much his body can reasonable handle.

Instead, LeBron has been pushing himself to his absolute limit in his age-39 season, and now it is starting to catch up to him. The Lakers better hope that this ankle injury doesn't snowball, as any injury in the playoffs will end all of the Lakers' title dreams.

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