LeBron James on injuries after short offseason: ‘I knew exactly what would happen’

Clippers star Kawhi Leonard and Lakers star LeBron James
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images
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LeBron James made very clear he didn’t want the season to start so soon.

After LeBron’s Lakers won the 2020 title Oct. 6, NBA owners and the players’ union agreed to start this season Dec. 22. That made for – by far – the shortest offseason in NBA history.

Now that Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard has become the latest star injured in the playoffs, LeBron is saying I told you so.

LeBron:

Coronavirus created many situations where people had to decide between unappealing choices.

The NBA was no exception.

While it depends how you twist the numbers, it seems injuries were up this season because of the compressed schedule. LeBron played through pain late in the season (and might be looking to redirect blame for Los Angeles losing in the first round). Those health issues are all unfortunate.

But players wanted the plan that maximized revenue and – therefore – salary.

Though National Basketball Players Association managing director Michele Roberts said players overwhelmingly opposed the Dec. 22 restart, that clearly wasn’t the case when it counted. The union approved the early start date to fit a 72-game regular-season, play-in tournament and full playoffs.

NBA players earn high salaries during short careers. A lost, or even shortened, season would have been devastating for many players.

Any player – including LeBron – could have opted out of the season. They would have been subject to losing their salaries, but they would have faced the same consequence if the union collectively decided against playing.

No player opted out – again, including LeBron, who could have more easily afforded to than other players.

He’s entitled to his opinion. This isn’t the only time LeBron has sparred with his own union. He objected to the union agreeing to play the All-Star game this year.

Before the season, LeBron looked at all the factors and decided to play. He might have feared the physical toll while also wanting to be there for his team. Perhaps, it was a difficult decision.

But – despite his concerns – he reached the same conclusion as everyone else: Play. At this point, there’s too much hindsight behind his complaints.