When will LBJ be back in the purple and gold?
On Sunday night, in a riveting comeback victory over the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers All-Star forward LeBron James at one point appeared to aggravate his right foot, and was stuck on the floor clutching it in agony for several minutes.
He did eventually finish the game, but sounded a bit pessimistic in postgame comments about the injury. Footage of him limping afterwards as he departed American Airlines Arena didn’t exactly inspire much confidence that this wouldn’t turn into an issue.
Yesterday, it was revealed that he was expected to miss several weeks with the ailment, still murkily called a “right foot injury,” as he gathered multiple opinions from doctors.
During an appearance on Fox Sports 1’s The Odd Couple Podcast (h/t to The Laker Files for the find), Mark Medina of USA Today reported that imaging on the foot revealed a total dearth of structural damage, which is at least a positive, and that James will not need to undergo surgery. However, he is dealing with major inflammation, and will need to wait for that to subside a bit. He might eventually opt to play through the pain while the foot is still somewhat inflamed.
Shams Charania of The Athletic spoke on FanDuel TV today with further clarification on a recovery timeline for James — and some intel on when exactly the injury may have actually started bugging the 19-time All-Star.
“LeBron James is expected to miss an indefinite amount of time,” Charania said. “I’m told likely at least two or three weeks. And guys the interesting part here [is] I’m told he initially hurt that right foot in January. He was faced with a decision at that point to shut it down for an amount of time or keep playing on it. He decided because of where the Lakers were in January — and [where] they’ve been most of the season — just scratching and clawing, trying to get into the playoffs and trying to get into the play-in picture, he decided to keep playing on it.”
“Then we saw on Sunday, he said on air he heard a ‘pop,’ he somehow played through it, got back into the game. And this injury comes at… an inopportune time,” Charania said. “There’s 21 games in the Lakers’ season left. They’ve won three in a row. They’re two-and-a-half games back of sixth place, and now LeBron James is out an extended period of time.”
Chris Haynes of Bleacher Reports adds that James is going to have his foot reassessed in a few weeks, after which LA will determine how much more time he will miss.
Here’s hoping James can return on the shorter side of his anticipated recovery timeline. If he can’t, it may doom the Lakers’ 2023 postseason chances. It’s never easy to win without your best player and leading scorer.