LeBron James, who’s out with an ankle injury, didn’t attend the Lakers’ win over the Nuggets on Monday or loss to the Clippers last night. According to Lakers coach Frank Vogel, LeBron isn’t traveling with the team to Portland for a game against the Trail Blazers tonight, either.
Asked whether there were a medical reason for LeBron not to be on the bench, Vogel said, “No.” Asked to expand on the reason, Vogel said, “He’s just not here. He was with us at shootaround this morning.”
Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
LeBron James' absences from the Nuggets and Clippers games were considered excused by the Lakers to allow James time to "stay off the ankle," a source with knowledge of the situation tells ESPN. https://t.co/b23YxZGmWL
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) May 7, 2021
That sounds like a medical reason.
Which makes it weird Vogel said otherwise.
LeBron has caused chemistry issues by not being around while injured before. Though they’re older and probably more understanding, plenty of new faces are on the Lakers this season. Ideally, LeBron would be attending games, cheering on and advising his teammates and developing camaraderie.
But this has been a trying season for everyone. Coming of a grueling run through the 2020 playoffs then historically short offseason, LeBron has especially chafed at the burden. He’s still clearly putting in effort to be around his teammates by attending shootaround.
If he wants to spend time with his family or do anything else to unwind during Lakers games while injured, he should be supported in that.
And if that decision is at all designed to keep LeBron off his injured ankle, Vogel should just call it medically related.
That Vogel didn’t is curious and creates a little controversy around what should maybe be a non-issue.