Los Angeles Lakers superstar forward LeBron James said he'll be "ready to go" for Friday's Christmas Day game against the Dallas Mavericks despite an ankle injury suffered in Tuesday's loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
"I never missed a Christmas Day game, and I don't plan on missing one tomorrow," he told reporters Thursday.
James, the NBA's longtime gold standard, continues to play at an MVP level nearly two decades after the Cleveland Cavaliers selected him with the first overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft. His season season in L.A. was far more successful than his first, as Anthony Davis' arrival helped him win his fourth title.
The 35-year-old Ohio native was limited to 55 appearances in his first year with the Lakers because of injuries. He remained more durable last season but did miss a game in the NBA's Orlando bubble because of a groin injury. He stayed healthy throughout the playoffs.
No single player can be asked to fill James' multifaceted role when he's out. Talen Horton-Tucker, Wesley Matthews and Alex Caruso are among the reserves who could see their minutes increase to help fill the void if he eventually misses time because of the ankle.
The Lakers still feature Davis and have ample depth in the rotation, factors that should help keep the team afloat if James is forced to the sideline at times this season. Any type of long-term absence could be a crushing blow to L.A. repeat bid, though.