LeBron Leaves Team USA Practice with Mild Sprain
Posted Jul 22 2008 9:15PM
LAS VEGAS, July 22 (AP) -- As Team USA's practice ended, LeBron James reclined on a table with trainers tending to his sprained right ankle.
A horde of television cameramen surrounded James and the trainers before team officials shooed them away.
The Americans described the injury as minor. It occurred Tuesday when James landed on Kevin Durant's foot during a closed scrimmage between Team USA and a select squad of young NBA players at Valley High School.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski said he would know more on Wednesday, after James has had a chance to rest.
"He thinks it's a mild sprain," Krzyzewski said. "Our trainers think it's a mild sprain. So we'll find out tomorrow. But I don't think it's anything serious. Obviously, we'll look and see what happens tomorrow."
Until more is known, James' injury raises questions about whether the forward will be full-speed as the Olympics approach.
The U.S. has already dealt with an injury to another starter, center Dwight Howard, who is returning from a stress fracture to his sternum. And Dwyane Wade, one of the top reserves, is coming back from left knee surgery.
Team officials have been encouraged by Howard and Wade during training camp this week. They seemed equally optimistic about James.
"You never want to see anyone hurt, but he's had this sprain before," managing director Jerry Colangelo said. "We're being told it's a minor deal. Obviously, he's got to take care of it."
In January, James missed a game with the Cleveland Cavaliers because of an ankle sprain. He returned to score 28 points in a victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Feb. 2.
A few weeks later, James left a game against Boston late in the first half with an ankle injury. X-rays were negative and James returned for the start of the second.
On Tuesday, trainers wrapped the ankle in a black brace, and James hobbled off the court without speaking to reporters.
Several teammates spoke to James, but none seemed very concerned that he'll miss much time.
"I ain't concerned about that guy," Wade said. "That guy is a professional. I've seen that guy get hurt one time in the NBA and come back in the second half and score 30-something. I'm not worried about him. He's going to get healthy and it'll take care of itself."
The Americans have two more workouts before facing Canada in an exhibition on Friday. Then the squad leaves for Macau, where it opens a four-game exhibition tour. The Olympic opener is Aug. 10 against host China in Beijing.
The U.S. can replace injured players until a final roster is submitted Aug. 7. But no one was talking about James being left off the squad. "We got time," teammate Carmelo Anthony said. "I think it's just a little mild ankle sprain. We got time. We need him to rest. We don't need him right now. We need him on Aug. 10."