Spears: Lakers' LeBron James 'Playing on 1 Leg' in Playoffs because of Ankle Injury

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVMay 20, 2021

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 19: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the game against the Golden State Warriors during the 2021 NBA Play-In Tournament on May 19, 2021 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)
Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

LeBron James told reporters earlier this season that he would likely never be 100 percent again at this stage of his career as he recovered from a high ankle sprain, even if he later walked those comments back somewhat. 

But perhaps he was also providing some postseason foreshadowing. 

"We need to be concerned about LeBron James," The Undefeated's Marc J. Spears said on Thursday's edition of The Jump. "He was supposed to be the point guard. I'm hearing he's playing on one leg."

James, 36, played 35 minutes in the Lakers' 103-100 win over the Golden State Warriors in the play-in tournament Wednesday night, which guaranteed L.A. the No. 7 seed and a first-round matchup with the Phoenix Suns. 

He scored 22 points (7-of-17 FG) to go along with 11 rebounds, 10 assists, two steals and a block, hitting the game-winning three with just under a minute remaining. But he didn't look 100 percent during the contest after missing 27 games in the regular season. 

"I knew I wasn't going to get back to 100 percent. It's impossible," James said in April. "I don't think I will ever get back to 100 percent in my career."

Given his age and the incredible mileage he's accumulated in his career—nine trips to the NBA Finals in 10 years, including four titles, can really take their toll—those remarks made sense. 

But it's LeBron, so they took on a life of their own.

"Whatever I say gets blown out of context," he told reporters last weekend. "As soon as I step on an NBA floor for the first time, I went to 99.9 percent."

According to Spears, however, James may not be anywhere close to 99.9 percent. It will certainly be a storyline worth monitoring as the Lakers attempt to repeat as champions.