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What’s popping on Air-Ball

I’m worried about LeBron James. Right now the Lakers star is at a point in his season where someone needs to talk to him behind closed doors.

It’s become abundantly clear he really wants his fifth MVP award. Not only would that tie him with Michael Jordan and Bill Russell for the second most but let’s be honest, it’s also about the fact he probably feels he’s been snubbed more than once and wants his due.

This is why after the NBA Finals are over he was talking about getting his respect. He knows that no matter how great he is now, this could end at any moment. One wrong step and like Kobe Bryant, it’s never the same. 

That Kobe injury in 2013 is the reason for my worry for LeBron. 

In 2013, Kobe did everything he could to will a terrible Lakers team to the playoffs. Despite the acquisitions of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, that team was an absolute trainwreck and the only reason they made the playoffs was Kobe.

How it ended though was far from the story book Kobe deserved. On a drive against Harrison Barnes and the Golden State Warriors in minute 45 of a tight game the Lakers needed to make the playoffs, Kobe tore his achilles.

He was never the same.

In that season, Kobe logged 38 minutes a night. A quick glance of LeBron’s stat sheet would make you wonder where the worry is coming from. Right now his 35 minutes a night is actually the second lowest of his career so where’s the concern?

Well, let’s dive a little deeper. Since Anthony Davis started experiencing injury issues on their eastern road trip, LeBron is averaging 38 minutes a game in the last 15. 

Although LeBron has given us every reason to not believe he’s a human being, he is. He’s a 36-year-old human that has played 49,671 regular season minutes and 10,811 playoff minutes. What’s scary is we never see the end coming with these great athletes until it just ends, almost out of nowhere.

Usually from a catastrophic injury no one has control from. It happened to Kobe at age 34. One night he was an MVP candidate, the next he was never close to being one again. 

I just worry that like Kobe, LeBron can’t see the forrest through the trees and is risking pushing things too far in 2021. Who cares if the Lakers get a six seed but he heads into the playoffs fully healthy?

Whether it’s the MVP award, the Lakers seeding or something else motivating him, someone needs to get him in a room and talk this out. One of LeBron’s greatest skills has been his ability to play the long game. To understand what’s most important and yet right now, it seems like he’s far too much in the moment. 

Hopefully once Dennis Schroeder is back the offensive load will be lessened and then ideally AD comes back after the All-Star break and this worry is just a distant memory.

But in a season where he had virtually no offseason, LeBron needs his rest more than ever. The second half schedule is truly bizarre because of COVID-19. Weird road trips, back-to-backs and basically everything you wouldn’t want for a 36-year-old on little rest.

Father time is undefeated, please LeBron, do not test him. If we thought the 2018 Warriors Finals wasn’t winnable, this one is a step above even that. Take some time, digest and come back ready for the playoffs. 

MVP or not, that’s when it really matters. The Lakers need to do everything they can to make sure their main engine is charged and ready to go and if that means cutting his minutes and taking a loss in March, who cares? Banner number 18 matters more than MVP number five or seeding and it’s time for someone to be honest with LeBron about it. 

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