LeBron Staying Ready while Focusing on his Family
Last week, some of us reporters that cover the Lakers had a chance to speak with LeBron James on Zoom. Going into the chat, one thing I was curious about was how he thought the hiatus was impacting his body, and what he was able to do to try and stay in shape.
I started thinking back to August, when I wrote an article called “LeBron’s (Incomparable) 17th Season,” detailing how he’s the only player in NBA history to average at least 25 points and 10 assists after their age-30 season, and he’s 35.
There’s a graphic in the piece showing that LeBron entered the season ranked 4th on the all-time minutes list (combined regular season and postseason), and with 2,094 more in the bank (58,378 total), he’s up to third, trailing only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone.
That was on my mind when considering the impact of this now month-long, and counting, layoff. Is it possible it’s a good thing for him to be getting rest on his legs? Or does that just disrupt the physical rhythm he’d been building that would be harder to get back?
LeBron actually answered that question himself on the “Road Trippin’” podcast a few weeks back.
“When you’ve been building six months of conditioning … and preparation … and then, the narrative that I don’t like is, ‘Well, now guys get so much rest.’ Or, ‘LeBron, he’s 35, he has so many minutes on his body, now he gets so much rest.’ It’s actually the opposite for me because, my body, when we stopped playing, was asking me like, ‘What the hell are you doing? .. You’re (usually) getting ready for the playoffs? Why are you shutting down right now?’ And I was right there turning the corner, I felt like I was rounding third base getting ready for the postseason, so, the rest factor, I think is a little bit overly blown.”
In LeBron’s own words, it’s far from ideal for his body. With that said, he’s built up so much trust over the years in finding a way to maximize where he’s at physically, combined with his one-in-a-million physique.
Rob Pelinka answered a question about how the hiatus impacts LeBron as follows.
“Everybody knows that LeBron is a pro’s pro and I know that the way he dedicates himself to his profession is unparalleled,” he said. “I know he’s been committed to leadership, he’s been committed to continuing to inspire his teammates.”
During the chat, LeBron spoke about what he’s been able to physically.
“As far as my training, I've been able to just still be in my home gym, train as much as I can, pretty much four, five times a week, keeping my body in the best possible shape, and just keeping my body ready, keeping my mind ready for whenever our season resumes.” he said, before adding a thought about the bigger picture. “But obviously we know what's most important. That's the safety of all Americans here in the United States of America and also all over the world and trying to control this thing and trying to get to a place where we can resume.”
James added that he’s been cleared to work with his trainer, Mike Mancias, but had not done so when speaking with us last week.
“At some point I will get back with him, but I've kind of been the Mike Mancias of the household, running the training regimens with myself, my wife and my kids have been a part of it as well at times,” he continued. “That's been pretty cool.”
In addition to the court at his home, LeBron’s been able to access indoor facilities owned by a couple of his friends that are stripped down, wiped down and safe, where he and his son Bronny – a freshman in high school with some serious game of his own – have gone to train.
“It’s just us,” he said. “I have been able to get on the court in some of my friends’ homes that they isolated for me and also just shooting on my outdoor court at home with my kids as well.”
That right there has to be as much as any NBA player can be doing right now. The question is more about when, and if, the season resumes, and it’s simply too early to tell what’s going to happen in the coming weeks.
“Obviously the number one thing, like I said, is the safety and the well-being of all of us here in America first, and getting this pandemic under control,” said LeBron. “I believe once that's under control and they allow us to resume some type of activity, I would love to get the season back going. I feel like we're in a position where we can get back and start to compete for a championship, get back to doing what we love to do, making our Laker faithful proud of us, of being back on the floor.
“And if it's in one single isolated destination – if it's Las Vegas or somewhere else that can hold us and keep us in the best possible chance to be safe, not only on the floor but also off the floor as well – then those conversations will be had. Just figuring out a way.”
LeBron talked about how rewarding the season has been to this point, given how quickly the team came together to establish terrific chemistry, which was a major factor as the built a 5.5. game lead in the West. It’d be really difficult not to get a chance to finish things out.
“I don’t know if I will be able to have any closure,” said LeBron. “I honestly didn’t think that we would be able to come together as fast as we did, just having a whole new system, having so many new players, having so many new pieces … but I was wrong … we were able to figure out who would our team be – and it started with Coach Vogel. We were going to be a defensive-minded team, we’re going to hit guys, we’re going to be very physical. And then on the offensive end, we’re going to play fast, but we’re going to play smart and we’re going to play together. And everything started with myself and AD and it trickled down to everyone else. But I don’t think I’ll be able to have any closure."
In short, LeBron is using this time to stay in the best shape as he can, while maximizing the family time that is often difficult to come by during a typical season.
“I talk to you guys a lot about the most difficult thing for me playing the game is that you’re away from your family so much,” he said. “I’m away from my boys and not being able to see the games that my boys play. I’m away from my daughter and not being able to go to recitals and things of that nature. Being away from my wife and things of that nature. So, everything right now has been in house. I’m able to train with my boys. I’m able to have tea time and color with my daughter. I’m able to be with my wife on a day-to-day basis every single day, either watching the kids or watching a TV series; playing video games with my kids. Playing card games with my wife and my family. So it’s definitely been a bit of a blessing to be able to be here 24/7, be here with your family and being able to – I don’t want to say ‘recoup’ the time, because that’s one thing you cannot do. Time waits for no man and you can’t do that. But to be able to appreciate it and be in this moment, it’s been pretty cool. Even though I’ve missed the game of basketball like none other.
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