After an offseason that started with thoughts of retirement and concern about a lingering injury, LeBron James declared he is healthy as the Los Angeles Lakers head toward the opening of the 2023-24 NBA season.
LeBron said he feels good physically after playing limited preseason minutes.
“Worked extremely hard to get (fully healthy). I was able to stick with the plan. I felt pretty good in that last (preseason game) and hopefully I can keep building that momentum heading into Tuesday.”
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) October 21, 2023
On a team surrounded by a great deal of optimism, the 38-year-old offering his current state of mind is the latest piece of good news for the title contenders. They open the campaign on Tuesday at the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets.
Back in May following a disappointing sweep by the Nuggets in the 2023 Western Conference Finals, James hinted at possibly retiring. It also was thought the superstar might need surgery to repair a foot injury that sidelined him during the later stages of the regular season.
However, he put talk of calling it quits aside and announced he would indeed return for a 21st NBA season. James earlier this month said the foot was back to its pre-injury levels.
He appeared in just 55 regular season games last season, and the Lakers reportedly have a plan to manage his minutes and workload this season more than in years past. James played in just three of the six games this preseason, averaging a little more than 18 minutes per outing.
In a fortunate circumstance, as a player who has reached certain age, minutes played and games played benchmarks, he will not be subject to the league’s new rules on resting players this season.
The NBA icon has played at least 67 games in a season just once since the 2018-19 campaign and is coming off his longest playoff run since winning the 2020 championship. But despite some detractors and the wear and tear of a lengthy career, James is still considered to be one of the best players in the NBA.
He has, however, taken steps to pass the torch to fellow star Anthony Davis, who he declared as the face of the Lakers franchise going forward.
The Lakers put forth updates about injured supporting players Gabe Vincent and Jarred Vanderbilt on Saturday. With a deep and talented roster that includes emerging star Austin Reaves, having James in good spirits means it’ll be full steam ahead for the season opener.