LeBron James says he had right elbow injury after 2017 playoffs

Statistically speaking, LeBron James wasn’t slowed by anything in The 2017 Finals as he became the first player to average a triple-double for an entire series. After the Cavs lost The Finals in five games to the rival Golden State Warriors, James apparently had a minor injury crop up.

In an interview with ESPN.com’s Dave McMenamin, James revealed that after The Finals, his right elbow swelled to the size of a tennis ball. Although no medical damage was found in the injury — he had both X-rays and an MRI on it, per McMenamin — it strangely led to some benefits to his game:

James was quick to point out two things about the elbow injury: one, it was not bothering him during the playoffs and had no impact on the Cavs’ 4-1 loss to the Golden State Warriors and two; it was nothing like the elbow injury that plagued him in the 2010 postseason, which ended in disappointment for Cleveland before James bolted for the Miami Heat.

“That was different. That was so different. I would get to here,” James said forming his arm in an L-shape, “and get right here and it would just lock.”

Still, it was something that James had to deal with as he tried to get over the sting of the loss to the Warriors and ready himself for revenge in the 2017-18 season.

“I don’t know where it came from,” James told ESPN following the Cavs’ 119-112 win over the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday. “I was working out in L.A. in late June and my wife was like, ‘What’s wrong with your elbow?’ I’m like, ‘What?’ … The weirdest s—.”

It bothered James to the point where he had to wear a compression sleeve on his right arm even when he wasn’t working out — making for an odd fashion accessory as he watched his son’s AAU tournament games over the summer. Rather than interrupt his offseason training regimen, James chose to work around the injury. He changed his shooting motion to end with a higher release point in order to minimize discomfort in his elbow when going through his daily shooting drills. While he has consulted shooting coaches in the past, James did this on his own.

“It was just me,” he said. “I’m at a point now in my career where I know if I need to make an adjustment here or there.”

The adjustment came with an unintended consequence: It didn’t just make James’ arm feel better, it made him shoot better, too.

“It just went away,” he said. “It just went away on its own. I never drained it. I talked about it, but no, never drained it.”

And he never reverted back to his old shooting form from prior to the elbow injury.

“I shoot it higher,” James said. “When the swelling went down I just continued to do the same motion, the same motion. My free throws, my 3s, my pullups, all that.”