Lakers' LeBron James Downplays Load Management, Reveals Motto for Playing

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 9, 2019

Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James (23) runs back during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat Friday, Nov. 8, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James said he's not interested in using the load-management label to rest and will only miss games if he's dealing with an injury.

"If I'm hurt, I don't play. If not, I'm playing," James told ESPN's Dave McMenamin following Friday night's 95-80 win over the Miami Heat. "That's what has always been my motto."

Houston Rockets guard James Harden also said Friday he'll be on the court whenever possible:

Michael Shapiro @mshap2

James Harden won’t be taking the Kawhi route anytime soon “Have you ever seen me not play because of load management?” https://t.co/cCEaLOmY4h

Seemingly every key player around the league has been asked about "load management" in recent days after the Los Angeles Clippers caused a media firestorm by resting Kawhi Leonard for a nationally broadcast game Wednesday night against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks.

Although the NBA initially released a statement clearing the Clippers of any wrongdoing, citing a preexisting knee injury for Leonard, it later issued a fine to the organization: "The NBA has fined the Clippers $50,000 for statements, including by head coach Doc Rivers, that were inconsistent with Leonard's health status."

Rivers had told reporters the reigning Finals MVP "feels great" during his pregame meeting with the media Wednesday before facing the Bucks.

James wasn't willing to discuss Leonard's situation, instead shifting to the third person during his conversation with McMenamin about his own mindset.

"LeBron's healthy, LeBron'll play. That's all I'll talk about," he said. "I don't talk about nobody else but me."

The 34-year-old four-time MVP played a career-low 55 games during his first season with the Lakers last year but appeared in all 82 contests for the Cleveland Cavaliers the previous campaign.

"Talk to my coaches," James told ESPN. "You know how many times me and T-Lue [Tyronn Lue] got into it in Cleveland when he wanted to sit me and I wanted to play? I'm healthy, I play. I probably got a good 45 years to not play basketball."

Mike Trudell @LakersReporter

Eric Spoelstra praised LeBron’s 100% commitment to his body and his craft as a major key and differentiator when asked about his early-season defense. He said few players in the NBA are able to really make the full commitment. Cited Dwayne Wade as one he’s had, and Jimmy Butler.

The first overall pick in the 2003 draft is off to a terrific start, averaging 26.0 points, 10.5 assists and 7.8 rebounds through eight games for the 7-1 Lakers, who are living up to their title-contender billing.

James and Co. are back in action Sunday night to face the reigning champion Toronto Raptors.