Every top NBA player encounters injuries at one point or another. Sometimes that means soreness, sometimes it’s a broken bone, and sometimes it’s something much more serious. A select few, like Lebron James, avoid any long term ailments altogether.
The powerful forward is one of the most successful and well-respected players in NBA history. Part of his legacy comes from his skill and athleticism, but he owes a lot to his ability to stay healthy as well.
The Importance of Health
No matter how skilled an athlete is, they can’t do much if they can’t play. There have been countless top stars who, for one reason or another, had their career completely derailed by injury. That includes those who got hurt young, as well as ones who went down in their prime.
Staying healthy may seem like a crapshoot, but it’s an important factor in determining a player’s success. All of the greats had long careers where they were able to win rings or enter into deep playoff games time and time again.
Their bodies never gave up on them, and they took the right steps to stay healthy. That’s why there’s such an emphasis on rest games in the current NBA. The better players can take care of their body, the more they can play as the years go on.
A True Warrior
Lebron is a phenomenal player, but he wouldn’t be anywhere close to the person he is today if he was injury prone. Luckily for him (and his teammates) he’s not just resistant to injury, he’s one of the toughest and most consistent players to ever play the game.
In fact, since entering the league in 2003 he’s played more than 52,000 minutes. That puts him third all time and shows his workhorse-like mentality. He’s not just someone who’s played a long time, he’s someone who’s played a long time without missing very many games.
The small forward has been in the league for eighteen years, and he’s been on the court for just about all of it. Not only has he played in countless playoff and finals games, but he’s averaged more than 38 minutes a game for his entire career. Very few athletes can match that work load.
Night in, Night Out
No matter how you cut it, Lebron is not someone who misses a lot of time. He came into the league ready to take over as a franchise player. Part of that role includes being able to put up great stats, part of it is winning the playoffs, and part of it is being able to play a lot.
As mentioned, great players are only great as long as they can stay on the court. Lebron has many records, stats, and impressive seasons under his belt. Those successes would have been severely limited if he wasn’t able to go out and play night after night.
He never suffered a major injury, and never sat out for extended periods of time. In fact, the future hall of famer played in 50 or more games throughout each season of his career. The times he didn’t were often for rest or minor issues.
Even more impressive is that during his first years with the Cavaliers he only missed 26 of the 547 total games. A sprained index finger kept him on the bench for a few games in the 2007/2008 season, but that was the only real injury he had.
The Passage of Time
After missing no games during the 2017/2018 season, Lebron’s age finally started to catch up to him when he went to the Lakers. Though he still put up great numbers and saw a lot of success with the team, years of tough basketball finally began to take their toll.
Lebron’s first significant injury came during his first year in Los Angeles. He suffered a groin injury on Christmas Day that took him out for seventeen games. He would go on to miss ten more that season, bringing his total absence to twenty seven total games.
After a relatively healthy 2020 season, where the NBA shut down for roughly five months, Lebron hit another snag in 2021 when knee swelling kept him on the sidelines. He never got back to his old self and the Lakers ended up missing the playoffs.
Lebron is someone who is, quite literally, built different. Not only is he one of the most skilled players to ever step on the court, but his body has held up extremely well all throughout his long career. He’s never had any serious injuries, and he’s played in most games.
Even now, with his body finally betraying him, Lebron managed to put the team on his shoulders. If he still has one last Finals run in him is anyone’s guess. However, if any player can do it, it’s the King.