LeBron James was forced to enter the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Tuesday.
As a result, he ended up sitting out his team’s drama-filled victory over the Sacramento Kings that same evening and will likely miss multiple games.
After LA’s big win over Sacramento, both Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook spoke openly about the situation facing their squad’s star player.
“It was something that was unexpected, for sure,” Davis said. “Found out this morning. Did more testing and we didn’t really hear anything afterward. Woke up from a nap and any media outlet that covers anything had it on and said that he was in the health and safety protocols. It wasn’t like a shocker for us … we just can’t catch a break. We’re just getting guys back and he’s out … how many days we don’t know…
“Still gotta find ways to win. We can’t let that affect us. Obviously, he’s a huge part of our team, but I think we played a huge amount of games without him. So we kinda know how that is already, and we gotta continue to play how we did on the defensive end as we did until he comes back.”
That said, Davis made it a point to highlight that he cares about what James is going through far more on a personal level than professional one.
“I talked to him today,” he continued. “Me and LB is close and I checked on him. Just hearing what Joel Embiid said: obviously (Embiid) was scared. He said that he thought he wasn’t going to make it. COVID is a scary thing. Especially with all the new variants coming out and all that…it’s a scary situation. (LeBron) said he’s good. He said he’s asymptomatic, which is a good sign, but we want to make sure that he gets back. Health is what’s most important. It’s bigger than basketball.
“[James] has a family and we want to make sure that he’s good no matter what. Like this Basketball Thing don’t stop…He’s part of our family and we want to make sure he’s good…He seemed to be fine, but I know he’s watching basketball and he’s excited, so the win probably helped him fight this off as well.”
Westbrook struck a similar note. Unlike Davis, however, he hadn’t reached out to James yet at that point.
“My thing is more just him just mentally and physically, it can be difficult, playing or not playing,” Westbrook said. “And I know he wants to play and he wants to compete. That’s where my main thing is, so I’ll definitely call and check on him once I leave here. Check his mental, make sure he’s in a good space.”
How Zach Wilson’s girlfriend reacted to his tough day. https://t.co/w8QNqJh10t
— Game 7 (@game7__) November 30, 2021
In the 12 games that the Lakers have played without James this year the team has only been able to muster up five victories. An extended absence is the last thing they need right now.
Over the past week LA has been rumored to be a player in a blockbuster trade, and it’s hard not to wonder whether James’ seemingly inevitable lengthy time off will factor into that somehow.