Over the course of his career, LeBron James has had more than 25 ankle sprains, Jeff Stotts of In Street Clothes said recently on the Dunc’d on Podcast. Most of the time, LeBron doesn’t even miss a game. His ability to play through ankle sprains is the thing of legend.
This current high ankle sprain is different.
He has already missed two games (three after Thursday night), and recent reports had LeBron missing several weeks. Now Shams Charania of The Athletic has a more specific timeline — 4-to-6 weeks.
Take this with a grain of salt, LeBron has defied injury timelines before.
But if this does drag out a month, LeBron will miss 16 games. Anthony Davis may return at some point in that window to help, but the current four-seed Lakers are just four games ahead of the seven seed and have to participate in the play-in games. Los Angeles wants to avoid that.
In the end, however, all that matters is the Lakers and LeBron entering the playoffs healthy. They can win on the road, the bubble showed what a mentally tough team the Lakers are. If LeBron and Davis are right, the Lakers will set the bar for the rest of the contenders. Other teams may clear that bar (a healthy Brooklyn team would be a threat in the Finals), but the Lakers will set the standard. It won’t matter where they play the games.
Missing 16 games would doom LeBron’s chances of a fifth MVP award. He has lobbied to win it since the bubble last year, but he also would give it up for another ring.