LeBron James Says 'I Never Asked for Time Off' Amid Narrative He Needs More Rest

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 23, 2021

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James walks the court after the Lakers turned over the ball during overtime in an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, in Los Angeles. The Wizards won 127-124 in overtime. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James said Monday he's "never asked for time off" despite outside questions about his workload during the 2020-21 NBA season.

James told reporters after the Lakers' 127-124 overtime loss to the Washington Wizards it's important for him to remain available for his teammates:

"I think this whole narrative of 'LeBron needs more rest' or I should take more rest or I should take time here, it's become a lot bigger than what it actually is. I've never talked about it. I don't talk about it. I don't believe in it. We all need more rest, s--t. This is a fast turnaround from last season, and we all wish we could have more rest. But I'm here to work. I'm here to punch my clock in and be available to my teammates.

"And if I'm hurt or if I'm not feeling well, then we can look at it then. But I have nothing but honest people [advising me], but I'm also honest with myself, as well, and me having a love for the game and me being able to be available to my teammates is more important than anything."

Los Angeles captured the 2020 NBA title with a Game 6 Finals victory over the Miami Heat on Oct. 11. The team opened training camp Dec. 1 and started the new season Dec. 22.

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The quick turnaround raised questions about whether James would see occasional nights off to rest. That hasn't happened, as he's played all 32 of the team's games. His role has also steadily increased, especially since Anthony Davis suffered calf and Achilles injuries that are expected to keep him out until mid-March.

James averaged 31.4 minutes in December, 33.9 minutes in January, and now he's all the way up to 38.2 minutes in February.

That's a heavy workload for any player, but especially for a 36-year-old 17-time All-Star who's logged over 60,000 career minutes between the regular season and playoffs.

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel told reporters they've "considered" giving James an occasional night off, but if he's waiting for the four-time MVP to ask, it's likely not going to happen. James explained:

"I have never asked for time off or time throughout the season. And it's growing to a point where it's not even coming from me anymore. It's just like, 'OK, LeBron should take time off,' or 'Why is his workload at this?' I've been hearing it for five, six, seven years now, and I'm still going strong. So I don't need a handout. I'm not looking for a handout. My job is to go out when I'm available, when I'm healthy to go out and play, and that's what it's all about."

James has continued to play at a high level. He tallied 31 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds in 43 minutes against the Wizards, but it wasn't quite enough as Washington's backcourt tandem of Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal combined for 65 points.

The Lakers are right back in action Wednesday night when they visit the Utah Jazz, owners of the NBA's best record at 25-6, and L.A. plays five games over the final eight days of the season's first half.

James was also voted an All-Star starter, which will limit his rest time during the midseason break.